Why biographers benefit

It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies; but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life. Indeed, it can be compared to nothing but daily living and associating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry, and entertain each successive guest, view—

Their stature and their qualities,

And select from their actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.

(Plutarch’s Life of Timoleon, Dryden’s translation)