Blackie’s Editions of Plutarch

Blackie’s Editions of Plutarch

By Art Middlekauff

In Nancy Kelly’s April 2018 article “A Programme for Plutarch,” she explains that “when it comes to editions used, [Charlotte Mason] overwhelmingly chose Blackie’s editions,” edited by W.H.D. Rouse. She also points out that the introduction to Blackie’s Julius Caesar states:

The present edition is reprinted from the first edition of the original, published in 1579, which in correctness is superior to those which followed it. A few omissions have been made, and one or two mistakes have been corrected.

This raises the question as to what omissions were made and why. A clue is indicated by the pattern Nancy observed in the PNEU programmes:

Every time the Blackie editions are used there is an asterisk. The asterisk means that the student was to have their own copy which would mean that they are reading along with the teacher!

Furthermore, the programmes only advise the teacher to make “suitable omissions … when non-Blackie editions are used.” This suggests that Mason approved Rouse’s choice of omissions.

As of the writing of the article, Nancy acknowledged, “I am not aware of any comparison between North’s and the edited Blackie editions as of yet.” However, Charlotte Mason Poetry recently received two scanned versions of Blackie’s editions which are now available for download. I was able to compare the Blackie Edition of Julius Caesar with my unabridged 1941 version published by The Heritage Press, New York. With my relatively hasty comparison, I was only able to find one omission in the first half of the book: a sentence about “Cæsar’s damnable dream.” The sentence is included on page 1398 of the unabridged version, and I certainly understand why Rouse chose to omit it.

A parent or teacher reading this volume would certainly want to skip this sentence. That is why Mason advised that for Plutarch, “the teacher should always read the lesson which is to be narrated” (Home Education, p. 233). However, another solution is to use Blackie’s editions, and let the student have a copy. We hope these PDF versions answer questions that were asked in response to Nancy’s article, and that they help the community further develop resources to make Plutarch accessible to contemporary homeschool parents.

Blackie’s Edition of Julius Caesar

Blackie’s Edition of Alcibiades and Demosthenes

Blackie’s Edition of Alexander

Blackie’s Edition of Themistocles and Pericles