This book compares selected Romans of the late Republic with American Founders in the style of Plutarch, encouraging readers to rethink how we view heroes and villains and their conceptions of republicanism.
Through entertaining yet informative short comparisons, this volume demonstrates the humanity of heroes and villains from different times and places through their often idiosyncratic similarities and differences. Readers gain not only a fuller understanding of the late Roman and early American Republics and their leaders but also an appreciation for comparative biography in its ability to make connections across the human experience. The book provides a way to connect two different areas of study, focusing on how republicanism shaped both Romans and American Founders and providing a previously unexplored contribution to a growing trend of broadening historical exposure. In doing so, Baughman and Poston demonstrate the continued need for connecting different fields of history while also helping students understand their connection to the ancient past.
This book is suitable for students and scholars interested in the late Roman and the early American Republics and also appeals to readers of varied interests across historical times and places, particularly those studying the connections between the classical past and modern world.
Acknowledgments, Introduction, 1. Parallel Kings: Julius Caesar and George Washington, 2. Parallel Philosophies: Cato the Younger and Benjamin Franklin, 3. Parallel Lawyers: Cicero and John Adams, 4. Parallel Conspirators: Catiline and Alexander Hamilton, 5. Parallel Traitors: Mark Antony and Aaron Burr, 6. Parallel Constitutions: Sulla and James Madison, 7. Parallel Revolutionaries: Augustus and Thomas Jefferson, Conclusion, Further Reading, Index.
Alexander Hamilton’s favorite book was Plutarch’s Lives because he and the other Founders knew that creating a good Republic depended on lessons learned from the past. Baughman and Poston have now brought Plutarch forward by drawing comparisons between seven ancient Romans and seven American Founders. No comparison is ever exact – Julius Caesar, for example, ended the Roman Republic while George Washington helped create a new one – but comparisons are helpful because they enable us as interpreters to enter into the conversation between them. Parallel Lives: Romans and the American Founders is exquisitely researched and elegantly written, bringing new insights to both our past and present.
Susan Ford Wiltshire
Author, Greece, Rome, and the Bill of Rights