Although Charlotte Mason personally educated and advocated the education of generations of students using Plutarch's Lives, which contains a smattering of parallel biographies of both a Grecian and a Roman followed by a brief comparison of the two, she did not execute the study for Ancient History's sake alone. No, according the Ambleside Online website, Charlotte Mason used Plutarch's Lives "because his biographies are more concerned with character and leadership qualities than they are with pure historical details." Indeed, although a lot will be gleaned about Ancient History through the use of this book with students above fourth grade in your home school--the bulk of Ancient History covered through Ambleside Online being contained within its pages--Plutarch's Lives is more a course on Citizenship. Again, AO says it best: "It's a look at what motivated some of the famous figures of the ancient world, what they did right, and where they went wrong." Plus, if it's good enough for William Shakespeare, who was an apt student of these biographies, using them for the foundations of many of his literary masterpieces, it's good enough for my humble children and li'l ol' me.
So, now that you are convinced (right?) that studying Plutarch's Lives is quite profitable, you may wonder if it is quite possible. It is. Although the rich language, not to even mention the pronunciation of the Greek names, can be intimidating at first, the study is accomplished through the gentle "small bite" Charlotte Mason philosophy. So, no worries!
Other fabulous helps: Anne White, a longtime member of the AO curriculum advisory board, faithfully compiled *FREE* study guides, chock-full of historical notes, vocabulary helps, and discussion points, for nearly every life covered in the AO Plutarch rotation (not ALL lives are studied: some of those old guys were rather nasty and, therefore, not necessary for study; so, use caution when giving children free access to the text). This is such a blessing to me, a mom rather new to home school by comparison and a mom quite green when it comes to Plutarch's Lives.
Oh! and guess what? Only one life is studied over the entire twelve-week term, taking minutes--mere minutes--of your time. See? Small bites for better literary digestion.
And, if I could get a drumroll, please...
The entire text of Plutarch's Lives, translated by lovely John Dryden, is also *FREE* to read online, or download, print, and bind, if you wish!
I'm all about a no- or low-cost home school. If you are, too, and you, realizing that I just posted information about an entirely *FREE* and fruitful Citizenship course via Ancient History, start to feel light-headed and giddy, it's absolutely normal--just fan and smile, fan and smile.
Whose lives we'll study next year? Poplicola, Brutus and Dion.