Reading the Parallel Lives of Plutarch used to be required reading for educated elites. For many, many centuries they were "a Bible for heroes," Emerson wrote, and evidently he enjoyed the agreement of Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Hamilton, and Jay among others. Yet today, save a few classicists, Plutarch is largely ignored inside the academy and outside in popular culture. Why is that?
Well, the 46 lives of Greeks and Romans were considered in the 19th century as either propaganda for the Great Man theory of history, or moralism for schoolboys. "Saturate your soul with Plutarch," Nietzsche said, "and when you believe in his heroes dare at the same time to believe in yourself."