I began the writing of my ‘Lives’ for the sake of others, but I find that I am continuing the work and delighting in it now for my own sake also, using history as a mirror and endeavouring in a manner to fashion and adorn my life in conformity with the virtues therein depicted. For the result is like nothing else than daily living and associating together, when I receive and welcome each subject of my history in turn as my guest, so to speak, and observe carefully ‘how large he was and of what mien,’ 1 and select from his career what is most important and most beautiful to know.

1 As Priam admired Achilles, Iliad, xxiv. 630.

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