Just as geographers, O Socius Senecio,1 crowd on to the outer edges of their maps the parts of the earth which elude their knowledge, with explanatory notes that ‘What lies beyond is sandy desert without water and full of wild beasts,’ or ‘blind marsh,’ or ‘Scythian cold,’ or ‘frozen sea,’ so in the writing of my Parallel Lives, now that I have traversed those periods of time which are accessible to probable reasoning and which afford basis for a history dealing with facts, I might well say of the earlier periods ‘What lies beyond is full of marvels and unreality, a land of poets and fabulists, of doubt and obscurity.’

1 One of the many friends whom Plutarch made during his residence at Rome. He was four times consul between the years 98 and 107 A.D. Plutarch addresses him also at the opening of the Demosthenes and the Dion, thus dedicating to him these ‘books.’

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