Coming In 2019: A New Translation Of Cornelius Nepos’s “Lives Of The Great Commanders”

Fortress of the Mind Publications is pleased to announce that 2019 will see the release of the first  illustrated, annotated translation of Cornelius Nepos’s Lives of the Great Commanders to appear in modern English.

The Roman writer Cornelius Nepos (c. 110 B.C.—25 B.C.) was one of the first biographers in the Western tradition.  His Lives of the Great Commanders presents unforgettable and entertaining sketches of some of the most famous statesmen of antiquity.  Written with a strong moral purpose, his book was taught and studied in schools for many centuries.  Through him we learn what character traits made his subjects great, and what shortcomings led to their downfalls.



Original massurrealist cover art by James Seehafer


Dedication page of the translation, composed in Latin.


Title page of the translation, composed in Latin.


Nepos’s instructional biographies have never been more needed or relevant than today.  Lives of the Great Commanders was once a mainstay of the Western educational curriculum.  With the tragic abandonment of the traditional curriculum, Nepos’s work has fallen into obscurity since the early 20th century, and it is now almost unknown outside of specialist circles.

This lavishly illustrated translation is the first edition of Cornelius Nepos to appear in many decades, and is specifically designed for the modern student and general reader.  It contains compelling original artwork by artist Caleb Jordan Schulz, who was commissioned to provide the portrait sketches for the translation.  His talents add a wonderfully personal dimension to the translation.  Some examples are shown below:


Hannibal.  Graphite on paper by Caleb Jordan Schulz.


Themistocles.  Graphite on paper by Caleb Jordan Schulz.  


Other illustrations include maps and engravings.  Lives of the Great Commanders will be ideal for home schooling, recreational reading, or for anyone wishing to obtain a basic picture of some of the major military figures of antiquity.  As stated earlier, one of Nepos’s major goals was something entirely lacking in today’s educational system:  training in morals, virtue, and character.


Frontispiece from a 1675 English edition of Nepos


Quintus Curtius’s previous translation work includes Cicero’s On Moral Ends, On Duties, and Sallust’s Conspiracy of Catiline and War of Jugurtha.  This translation of Cornelius Nepos features his characteristic attention to detail, accuracy, and lucid English prose, and is intended to revive interest in this forgotten classic.

With extensive annotations, foreword, detailed introduction, maps, portrait art, other illustrations, and a complete index.  This translation will be offered in paperback, hardcover, audio, and Kindle versions.

Cover art by James Seehafer.



Read other translation work by Quintus Curtius in On Duties:

16 thoughts on “Coming In 2019: A New Translation Of Cornelius Nepos’s “Lives Of The Great Commanders”

  1. Any arrangement for preorder? I’d be interested in Kickstarter or other crowdfunding site. Looking forward to getting a copy and the audiobook. For some reason I listen more to the book but like having a paper copy, hardbound if possible, for reference. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lee: Thanks for asking. Once the book is ready for publication, it will be offered on preorder. Publication is expected to be around the middle or end of the summer. Of course, I will be giving periodic announcements to keep everyone informed. I do plan to offer the book in every format: paperback, Kindle, hardcover, and audio.


  2. This is great news.

    Will the hardback be out at the same time as the paperback version? I missed your last few in hardcover as I ordered the paperbacks before the hardcovers came out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good point. My plan is for the hardcover to come out right after the paperback and Kindle versions. Maybe only a few weeks. The audio version takes a bit longer, because it needs to be read, and the production has to go through additional processing. But all versions will be available soon after initial publication.


  4. QC,

    Looking forward to your latest as well.

    This made me wonder. In your view, what would a general classical education for the 21st Century look like? Is there anywhere that you know of in the West that still keeps this tradition alive? I know it really is a much larger undertaking than would fit into a combox, but I would be interested in reading your thoughts on this sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Outside of specialized schools, you are pretty much on your own. Sad, but true. The public schools today are a disgrace to the humanities, in my view. If you don’t read and study on your own, no one is going to do it for you. Maybe I should try to design an ideal reading list or topic subject list. I think the focus of the classical curriculum needs to be on history, philosophy, biography, public speaking (rhetoric), and languages. The other subjects, like mathematics, sciences, and music, are well taken care of by the schools. It’s the humanities that are terribly neglected, and that will require personal home study.


      • Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. A study guide / reading list would be of enormous help. There is so much work to do for our posterity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Perhaps looking at Harvey Mansfield’s or Victor Davis Hanson’s reading list suggestions might help. Mansfield is more in the political science or Great Books area but Hanson should certainly include many ancients,


  5. “Maybe I should try to design an ideal reading list or topic subject list.”

    That is a great idea Quintus. A reading list of some specific texts would be very helpful to many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I give my cover artist James Seehafer wide latitude in his ideas. I told him I wanted something suitably heroic and compelling, to match the grandeur of the subject matter. And he delivered, as always. One cannot interfere with the artist’s vision. That’s how I see things, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup. I think those that interfere to a great extent are megalomaniacs, living out a repressed fantasy of a life of divine creativity via the artist, and thoroughly ruining the work.

        And if a lightning bolt going through the sun and into the hand of Caesar isn’t heroically compelling, and full of grandeur, then I don’t know what is.

        -Justin N.


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