Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings. The surviving Parallel Lives (in Greek: Bioi parallèloi), as they are more properly and commonly known, contain twenty-three pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman, as well as four unpaired, single lives. It is a work of considerable importance, not only as a source of information about the individuals biographized, but also about the times in which they lived.
As he explains in the first paragraph of his Life of Alexander, Plutarch was not concerned with writing histories, as such, but in exploring the influence of character—good or bad—on the lives and destinies of famous men. The first pair of Lives—the Epaminondas-Scipio Africanus—no longer exists, and many of the remaining lives are truncated, contain obvious lacunae and/or have been tampered with by later writers.
His Life of Alexander is one of the five surviving secondary or tertiary sources about Alexander the Great and it includes anecdotes and descriptions of incidents that appear in no other source. Likewise, his portrait of Numa Pompilius, an early Roman king, also contains unique information about the early Roman calendar.
The table below links to several on-line English translations of Plutarch's Lives; see also "Other links" section below. The LacusCurtius site has the complete set; the others are incomplete to varying extents.D Dryden is famous for having lent his name as editor-in-chief to the first complete English translation of Plutarch's Lives. This 17th century translation is available at The MIT Internet Classics Archive
These translations are linked with D in the table below; those marked (D) in parentheses are incomplete in the HTML version.G Project Gutenberg contains several versions of 19th century translations of these Lives, see: http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/authrec?fk_authors=342 and http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/14114
The full text version (TXT) of such a translation is available at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/674
These translations are linked with G in the table below.L LacusCurtius has the Loeb translation by Bernadotte Perrin (published 1914‑1926) of part of the Moralia and all the Lives; see http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/home.html
These translations are linked with L in the table below.P Also the Perseus Project has several of the Lives, see: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cache/perscoll_Greco-Roman.html
The Lives available on the Perseus website are in Greek and English according to the Loeb edition by Bernadotte Perrin; and/or in English according to an abbreviated version of the Thomas North translations. This last edition concentrates on those of the Lives Shakespeare based his plays upon: Thomas North's translation of most of the Lives, based on a French version published in the 16th century, preceded Dryden's translation mentioned above.
These translations are linked with P in the table below.
There are also four paperbacks published by Penguin Books, two with Greek lives, two Roman, rearranged in chronological order, and containing a total of 36 of the lives.
All dates are BC except Galba and Otho.