Greek, Roman and Other


I have been inspired by many of the writers in the last three millennia, going back to Homer among the Greeks and the wisdom literature of the Old Testament: the Greek and Hebraic traditions as they are often called. There have been so many writers and authors, poets and publishers, prophets and predictors, along the line in these two traditions. These two traditions continue up to and including the period of my own life, as a war-baby and in the post-WW2 era which has been my lifespan: 1943 to the present. This sub-section of my website deals with the classical period, a period which I will somewhat arbitrarily, and arguably, refer to as the years: 3000 BC-500 AD.


Bryn Mawr Classical Review(BMCR) publishes timely open-access, peer-reviewed studies of current scholarly work in the field of classical studies including archaeology. The following site/link is the authoritative archive of BMCR's publication, from 1990 to the present.  I first came across this journal while teaching ancient history in the early 1990s. Reviews from August 2008 on are also posted on the site's blog.  Once a month a list of books received and available is published on this website and by e-mail.  To access many dozens of articles and essays, reviews & surveys go to:  Journals devoted to Classical Studies began to appear during the late eighteenth century, and flourished during the nineteenth. Serving an audience of scholars and enthusiastic amateurs, they facilitated the exchange of information on a wide range of topics.

The Cambridge Library Collection has reissued a selection of such journals, from the short-lived Musei Oxoniensis Litterarii Conspectus (1792) to the Journal of Philology, published between 1868 and 1920. Their main content covers the fields of classical literary criticism, ancient history and archaeology, & biblical studies. They also include material of related interest or topical appeal, such as research on the Rosetta Stone, a description of the Cornish language or a note on Mungo Park's death in Africa. Book reviews document how many now famous works were received by their contemporaries, and the series as a whole provides fascinating insights into the development of the discipline of 'the Classics'.


A study of the Classics in academic journals is sometimes called Classical Studies or the study of Classical Civilization. Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising: the languages and literature, philosophy and history, art and archaeology, as well as other aspects of the culture of the ancient Mediterranean world.  It encompasses the Bronze Age, circa BCE 3000 to Late Antiquity ca. CE 300–600. It has a special focus on Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity (ca. BCE 600 –  CE 600). Initially, the study of the Classics, that is the period's literature, was the principal study in the humanities.

The history of literature begins with the invention of writing, in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Writing developed out of proto-literate sign systems in the 30th century BC, although the oldest known literary texts date from the 27th or 26th century BC. Literature from the Iron Age includes the earliest texts that have been preserved in a manuscript tradition (as opposed to texts that have been recovered by archaeologists), including the Avestan Gathas (seedate of Zoroaster), the Indian Vedas(see Vedic period), parts of theHebrew Bible (the Old Testament; the Bible), and the earliest literature from Ancient Greece.

Classical Antiquity is generally considered to begin with Homer in the 8th century BC, and it continues until the decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. Although the earliest Classics were in Ancient Greek, from the 3rd century BC, Greek literature was joined by Latin literature. As well as the Western canon, there is also a period of classical Sanskrit literature and Sangam literature in India, Chinese classics in China, & in Late Antiquity the beginning of classical Syriac and Middle Persian literature. The following is a chronological list of literary works up until the 5th century AD. Literature of the 6th to 9th centuries is covered in Early medieval literature. For a list of the earliest testimony in each language, see the list of languages by first written accounts. Go to this link for more:  For the details on the following topics and for the context of classical literature go to this link:

    1 History of the Western Classics
    2 Legacy of the Classical World
    3 Sub-disciplines within the classics
        3.1 Philology
        3.2 Archaeology
        3.3 Art history
        3.4 Civilization and history
        3.5 Philosophy
    4 Classical Greece
        4.1 Language in ancient Greece
        4.2 Ancient Greek literature
        4.3 Greek mythology and religion
        4.4 Ancient Greek philosophy
        4.5 Technology of ancient Greece
    5 Classical Rome
    6 Famous classicists
    7 Modern quotations about the classics


In the Bryn Mawr Classical Review of January 2013 a review of The Classical Tradition by Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, Salvatore Settis(2010, Cambridge, MA; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), a book of more than 1000 pages, is found.  Access to reviews of that same 1000 page book come from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. This review by Christina S. Kraus of Yale University provides a useful overview of the book. Kraus begins as follows: "How do we get from the polis to the police, or from Odysseus' sirens to ambulances? The legacy of ancient Greece & Rome has been imitated, resisted, misunderstood, and reworked by every culture that followed.  In this volume, some five hundred articles by a wide range of scholars investigate the afterlife of this rich heritage in the fields of literature, philosophy, art, architecture, history, politics, religion, and science" 

Arranged alphabetically from Academy to Zoology, the essays are "designed and written to serve scholars, students, and the general reader alike." They also show how the Classical tradition has shaped human endeavors from art to government, mathematics to medicine, drama to urban planning, legal theory to popular culture. At once authoritative and accessible, learned & entertaining, comprehensive & surprising, & accompanied by an extensive selection of illustrations, this guide illuminates the vitality of the Classical tradition that still surrounds us today. For more of this review go to:


Greek literature refers to writings composed in areas of Greek influence throughout the whole period in which the Greek-speaking people have existed. The following sections are found in medieval and modern literature and are not dealt with in classical literature: (i) modern Greek, post 1453, and contemporary Greek literature. Go to this link for the following aspects of Greek literature:

    1 Ancient Greek literature (before AD 350)
        1.1 Preclassical
        1.2 Classical
        1.3 Hellenistic
            1.3.1 Roman Age
    2 Byzantine (AD 290-1453)

The above sections and sub-sections are themselves now extensive fields of study which I make no attempt to survey in detail at this part of my website. Occasionally, though, I will make some comments or add items using these content-division markers. For example, the following belongs to the above sub-section 1.3 and 1.3.1. This is a review of G.W. Bowersock's Hellenism in Late Antiquity(Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990, 100 pages). Glen Warren Bowersock(1936-) is a contemporary American scholar of the ancient world and the history of ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East. For more on this scholar go to:  His book under review here describes aspects of Greek-influenced culture over a fairly broad chronological period. The period under review is mainly post-337 CE, post Constantine, though there are some flashes from earlier years, but mainly the fifth and sixth centuries.  For more of this review in the journal Bryn Mawr Classical Review by James J. O'Donnell go to:

These paragraphs below belong in the above sub-section 1.2.  Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Asia Minor.  It reached its most significant form in Athens in the 5th century BCE.  Greek tragedy is an extension of the ancient rites done in honor of Dionysus.  It heavily influenced the theatre of Ancient Rome & the Renaissance. The basis of tragic plots were most often myths treated in the oral traditions of archaic epics. In tragic theatre, however, these narratives were presented by actors. The most important authors of Greek tragedies are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. For more of this general introduction go to:


Part 1:

Peter Green’s dismissal of The Complete Plays of Sophocles in The New York Review of Books, 10 May 2012 some found surprising.  This 880 page edition of Sophocles’ seven masterpieces included a multi-themed essay about theater in fifth-century-BCE Athens and the translators’ theory and methods. In addition Green provided introductions and notes for each drama.  All of the plays of Sophocles have been widely staged, praised, and anthologized.  They have all been included in the current third edition of The Norton Anthology of World Literature.  Go to this link for more details:

I am far from being an authority or even that familiar with Sophocles' plays. Sophocles came onto my radar screen back in the early 1990s when I taught a course on Greek history(478-404 BCE).  I read a book back then, as I taught matriculation students, by Bernard MacGregor Walker Knox (1914-2010), an English classicist, author, and critic who became an American citizen. He was the first director of the Center for Hellenic Studies.  In 1992 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Knox for the Jefferson Lecture. This is the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Knox informed his readers that Sophocles wrote 123 plays, but only 7 survived. Loyalty to the city took precedence over any private loyalty. The central message of Sophocles' play Oedipus the King is submission to divine will and acceptance of destiny. This play is a statement of the reassertion of the religious view of man in 5th century BCE Athens.

Part 2:

An accurate view of Greek Tragedy is currently very much a desideratum, that is, something considered highly desirable for students of this field of study. In the poetical world of Greek Tragedy, a human individuality is formed through the imitation of the gods by participation in the life of Family and State. Contemporary views obscure this divine-human dialectic. Falling within the logic developed by the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche (1844-1900) in his Birth of Tragedy, they assume a human individuality complete in itself and make it the subject of the tragic action.  At stake in the recovery of a comprehensive view of Greek Tragedy is not mere archaeological exactness, but a right understanding of our spiritual history, ancient & modern. Tragedy has played an essential role in the development of that Hellenic spirit which, together with the Judaic, has animated our Western and Christian civilization. Moreover, a profound enthusiasm for Greek Tragedy has captured the European imagination since the end of the 18th century, & a deeper interpretation than that of Nietzsche is necessary to make that enthusiasm comprehensible.

The article which follows proposes first to locate Tragedy in its general spiritual context, by presenting it as a further development of the spiritual world that the war between the Titans and Olympians has established. Second, it will argue that the Nietzschean view of tragedy does not respect the primacy of the Olympian gods in the formation of human individuality. Third, in a consideration of Antigone it proposes to suggest an interpretation of one tragedy in accord with the principles expressed more generally in the first two parts of the article. Lastly, it will seek to show that in its discovery of a rational humanity imitative of the gods lies the true interest of tragedy both as part of our history and our contemporary life. For more on this theme go to:

Part 3:

“Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . . Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody.” (Outline of Aristotle's Theory of Tragedy in his Poetics translation by S. H. Butcher)

The treatise we call the Poetics was composed at least 50 years after the death of Sophocles. Aristotle was a great admirer of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, considering it the perfect tragedy, and not surprisingly, his analysis fits that play most perfectly. I shall therefore use this play to illustrate the following major parts of Aristotle's analysis of tragedy as a literary genre. Tragedy is the “imitation of an action” (mimesis) according to “the law of probability or necessity.” Aristotle indicates that the medium of tragedy is drama, not narrative; tragedy “shows” rather than “tells.” According to Aristotle tragedy is higher, and more philosophical, than history because history simply relates what has happened while tragedy dramatizes what may happen, “what is possibile according to the law of probability or necessity.” History thus deals with the particular, & tragedy with the universal.

Events that have happened may be due to accident or coincidence; they may be particular to a specific situation and not be part of a clear cause-&- effect chain. Therefore they have little relevance for others. Tragedy, however, is rooted in the fundamental order of the universe; it creates a cause-&-effect chain that clearly reveals what may happen at any time or place because that is the way the world operates. Tragedy therefore arouses not only pity but also fear, because the audience can envision themselves within this cause-and-effect chain. For more go to these two links: and


Gregory Nagy is the Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He is also the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC.  Nagy has just written The Ancient Greek Hero(Belknap Press/ Harvard University Press, 750 pages), and you can read a review of this work at:  For a second review in the 22/5/'14 issue of the New York Review of Books by Gregory Hays "The Homeric MOOC: Will It Revolutionize Education?" go to:

Nagy discusses what is it to be human & how ancient concepts of the heroic & anti-heroic can inform our understanding of the human condition? That question is at the core of The Ancient Greek Hero, which introduces, or reintroduces, students to the great texts of classical Greek culture by focusing on concepts of the Hero in an engaging, highly comparative way.

The classical Greeks' concepts of heroes and the "heroic" were very different from the way we understand these terms today. In a course Nagy runs at Harvard, students analyze Greek heroes and anti-heroes in their own historical contexts. In this way, students can gain an understanding of these concepts as they were originally understood while also learning how they can inform our understanding of the human condition in general.


Part 1:

With the possible exception of Homer, no cultural phenomenon from the ancient world has had a more widespread or persistent impact on subsequent generations, from Aristotle’s day to our own, than Greek tragedy. It developed primarily in Athens, in the late sixth century BCE, and, as is generally agreed, reached its peak in that city state during the Periclean Age, with the works of Aeschylus, Euripides, and, above all, Sophocles. The plays these three tragedians wrote are still performed today.  Many of the problems they confronted are those of our common humanity—love, hatred, jealousy, the stresses of war, conflicting social codes. They remain as urgent now as they were when first staged. Just how urgent, and relevant, is strikingly demonstrated by the wide-ranging essays in a recent special double issue of Comparative Drama (Winter–Spring 2010). These essays show how the passions and politics of ancient Athens are renewed in the work of modern Greek dramatists.

But the problems facing these ancient tragedians can also be difficult and deceptive. Our Western world, permeated by three millennia of Judeo-Christian religious and moral assumptions, makes it a perilous academic and literary business to try to understand where Greeks stood and why back then on many crucial issues. Their heavily anthropomorphized gods had no more moral standards, in our sense, than those primeval tribal elders and aristocratic young studs on whom they were so clearly modeled. They were powerful, immortal and followed their own pleasures and whims, though apparently subject, in some sense, to Fate and Necessity. They tended to be actively malign when crossed. Humans learned to petition them for benefits, flatter them hopefully, and otherwise keep well out of their way.

Part 2:

Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, 2012, has an excellent essay entitled THE RADICAL TRAGIC IMAGINARY: CASTORIADIS ON AESCHYLUS & SOPHOCLES by Nana Biluš Abaffy. I will give readers here a taste of that article and leave it to those with the interest to go to this link for the entire essay:  "Tragedy’s 
profound connection to the rise of the democratic polis," writes Abaffy, "has indeed been firmly established by classicists and anthropologists alike. Most sources indicate that Aeschylus, the ‘father of tragedy’, was born around 525 BCE.  Athens became a democracy in 508 BC & Aeschylus’ first tragedy was performed in 499 BC. The noteworthy fact that the births of tragedy & democracy directly coincided with one another is immensely significant in deciphering either of these two remarkable creations. In Aeschylus, on the other hand, ‘meaning’ has an entirely different status. It is never treated as though it were simply a construct erected by man as protection against impending Chaos."

Aeschylus’ meanings, and not just the definition of his words, but his meanings of life, of the world, of nature, fate, man, the gods—are always aware of the Chaos. They are open to it and can accommodate it. His meanings do not defend against the Chaos but carry it within themselves. Sophocles’ heroes desperately search for clarity and cohesion, while they urgently need to discover, uncover, and know the hidden and mysterious ‘truth’. The ‘true’ and ‘real’ meaning of their gods, fate, and identity---which is determined by external facts and evidence and revealed like a detective story---Aeschylus presents to us in his plays. He does so with a fluid reality that is shaped by an indeterminate multiplicity of forces and meanings.

Part 3:

The following paragraphs belong to the pre-classical period, sub-section 1.1 above. Homer—often described, ironically, as “the Bible of the Greeks”—offered a guidebook to what had been regarded as desirable Bronze Age human upper-class behavior: on the battlefield, in society, and when dealing with a pantheon of deities who, all too often, meddled spitefully in the affairs of mortals.
I thank Peter Green's "Obsessed with Scapegoats and Outcasts," in The New York Review of Books, 10 May 2012.  Green is a British classical scholar. He is now an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa and also has a visiting professorship at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Go to this link for more on Greek tragedy and Peter Green's article:

Part 3.1


Greek tragedy is found expressed in our modern society. When The Wire, a police drama series ended its five season run in 2008, it had left viewers with a distinctly un-American message: the political, economic and social constructs at the heart of the American dream are now inseparable from its current state of decay.  The Wire does not reflect, nor does it reaffirm, the mindset shared by many viewers---even those accustomed to its edgy and offbeat programming--- because it does not follow after the footsteps of contemporary dramatists. Instead, its main source of inspiration stems from an earlier generation of dramatists known collectively for the art form they gave rise to: Greek tragedy. Being the West's first great tragedians, it was left to them to remind the city's citizens of their limits and, indeed, of the limits of humankind.

One of their main preoccupations was the key role that fate played in determining human existence. According to this view, the subject is stripped of agency and reduced to -- in a manner of speaking -- a pawn on a chessboard. The fact that our best efforts can come to naught, even despite all indications to the contrary, suggests that our aspirations need to be reappraised and the very worst of our solipsistic inclinations jettisoned. The Wire roused its viewers to the realization that these attributes of Greek tragedy, foreign though they may appear at first, are not merely peculiarities of a different world or antique past, but that they are very much a part of the world in which we live. For more on The Wire and Greek tragedy go to:


Part 1:

Winifred Mary Beard(1955- ) is an English Classical scholar. She is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts professor of ancient literature. She is also the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog, "A Don's Life", which appears in The Times as a regular column. Her frequent media appearances and sometimes-controversial public statements have led to her being described as "Britain's best-known classicist". For more on this famous British writer go to: In the London Review of Books(Vol. 36 No. 6, 20 March 2014), Mary Beard writes as follows:

"I want to start very near the beginning of the tradition of Western literature, & its first recorded example of a man telling a woman to ‘shut up’; telling her that her voice was not to be heard in public. I’m thinking of a moment immortalised at the start of the Odyssey. We tend now to think of the Odyssey as the story of Odysseus and the adventures and scrapes he had returning home after the Trojan War. For decades Penelope loyally waited for him, fending off the suitors who were pressing for her hand.‚Äč But the Odyssey is just as much the story of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus and Penelope; the story of his growing up; how over the course of the poem he matures from boy to man."

Part 2:

"The process starts in the first book with Penelope coming down from her private quarters into the great hall, to find a bard performing to throngs of her suitors; he’s singing about the difficulties the Greek heroes are having in reaching home. She isn’t amused, and in front of everyone she asks him to choose another, happier number. At which point young Telemachus intervenes: ‘Mother,’ he says, ‘go back up into your quarters, and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff … speech will be the business of men, all men, and of me most of all; for mine is the power in this household.’ And off she goes, back upstairs." Beard continues:

"There is more to all this than meets the eye, however. This ‘muteness’ of Penelope is not just a reflection of women’s general disempowerment throughout the classical world: no voting rights, limited legal and economic independence and so on. Ancient women were obviously not likely to raise their voices in a political sphere in which they had no formal stake. But we’re dealing with a much more active and loaded exclusion of women from public speech than that – &, importantly, it’s one with a much greater impact than we usually acknowledge on our own traditions, conventions and assumptions about the voice of women. What I mean is that public speaking and oratory were not merely things that ancient women didn’t do: they were exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender."  For more of Beard's commentary and its contemporary relevance go to:


Part 1:

In the London Review of Books(Vol. 24 No. 12, June 2002), Colin Burrow reviews (i) Chapman’s Homer: The ‘Iliad’ edited by Allardyce Nicoll (Princeton, 600 pages, 1998), and (ii) Chapman’s Homer: The ‘Odyssey’ edited by Allardyce Nicoll(Princeton, 600 pages, 2001). Burrows informs us that: In 1598 George Chapman printed the first instalment of his translation of Homer. This was to become Chapman’s most extended labour – for more or less the next twenty years he worked obsessively at it – and his best and best-known work. Chapman’s Homer appeared sporadically in sections, as he found time and inspiration to work on it, and patrons to support it. Seven books of the Iliad appeared in 1598. These were rendered in the long, sometimes lumbering fourteeners that Chapman claimed was the right form for so massive a poem. In 1608 he augmented the seven books to 12, and by 1611 he had completed the whole Iliad. At this point he set about adding notes to the translation. He also rewrote his original versions of the two first books and made revisions to the other sections.

In the following years he laboured over the Odyssey, which he translated into wildly asymmetrical & violently enjambed heroic couplets. In poetry, enjambment is incomplete syntax at the end of a line; the meaning runs-over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation. Lines without enjambment are end-stopped.  Chapman worked at enormous speed: 12 books were probably ready by 1613, & the Odyssey was completed between 1614 and 1615.  If Homer had walked the English soil in 1597 he would have felt that he had lived in vain. At that date no English poet had a substantial knowledge of either the Iliad or the Odyssey. Although the statutes of grammar schools made proud boasts that Greek was studied in the higher forms, it’s likely that by the end of the 16th century only a handful of schoolchildren could read more than a few lines of Homer in the original.  Our modern world has now had Homer for four centuries. For more of that review of Chapman and his work go to:

Part 2:

I want to draw here on Brendan Purcell's article "Philosophical and Theological Historiography in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Red Wheel." The article appeared in Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture(Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2014).  Purcell makes some comments about Homer and the Greek tragedians which I quote below.  Purcell is an adjunct professor in the School of Philosophy at Notre Dame University in Australia. He is an author, teacher and commentator in the field of philosophy. I have cherry-picked some of his article as follows:

Since both Achaeans and Trojans spoke the same language and invoked the same gods, political philosopher Eric Voegelin reads Homer's Iliad & Odyssey as an etiology of a civilizational disaster of a common Greek-speaking world at war with itself.  The mid-to-late-13th century BC, is the most often cited candidate for the Troy of Homer. It appears to have been destroyed by war, and the evidence of fire and slaughter around 1184 BC, which brought Troy VIIa to a close, led to this phase being identified with the city besieged by the Greeks during the Trojan War. This was immortalized in the Iliad written by Homer.  Voegelin shows how Homer diagnosed the source of the disaster as the vices of its aristocratic anti-heroes. In terms of later Platonic categories, argues Voeglin, we can see these heroes as radically disordered through, for example, Achilles’ anger, Paris’ lust, and the stupidity of the Achaean King Agamemnon and the Trojan King Priam. The point of the diagnosis, at least for Voeglin, is that these failings are not merely occasional but express deep-rooted refusals to engage with reality.  This is a real problem in our own time.

It is this suicide of an entire society due to the stupidity of its rulers that Homer wants to highlight in his depiction of Kings Agamemnon & Priam. Voegelin writes of Homer, and I paraphrase: "in the fall of Achaean society the poet found not only a political catastrophe, but a touch of divinely ordained fate in the action and passion of the heroes.  Homer also saw the element of tragedy which led to the events ascending into the realm of Mnemosyne; she was the personification of memory in Greek mythology.  From the disaster Homer wrested his insight into the order of gods & men; from this suffering grew wisdom, and the wisdom took the form of an epic song about the fall of the civilization."  Homer transformed the tragedy of a society tearing itself apart by creating a new symbolic form, the epic poem.

Part 2.1:

“We can speak of this Greek tragedy in the style and manner of self-transcendence, corresponding to the Israelite style of exodus from civilization and ultimately from itself.  For with its past the new society had acquired its future.” (Voegelin, The World of the Polis, p. 76) Voegelin writes that “the disintegration of Athenian democracy in the late 5th century BC was faithfully reflected in the work of the great tragedians.” Our principal task, and as Aristotle put it says Voeglin, is “to immortalize as much as possible,” to live our earthly existence simultaneously in and toward eternity.  History, for Voeglin, is the flow of this mortal/immortal existence, what he calls the flow of our existence in the eternal presence of the divine. He quote's T. S. Eliot’s phrase from his Four Quartets, “the intersection of the timeless with time,” where history is “a pattern of timeless moments." 

Voegelin draws on Hesiod’s & Aristotle’s categorization of three types of persons: (i) those who are wise, (ii) those who are not wise themselves, but have the sense to follow the advice of the wise, and (iii) those who are neither wise themselves nor are prepared to follow the wise.  When this third group achieves a critical mass in a society, that society is ruined.  Aristotle referred to the third type as “slaves by nature.” Voegelin points out that in Germany, this third type “existed at all levels of society up to its highest ranks, including pastors, prelates, generals, industrialists, and so on.”  Instead of Aristotle’s class-bound name for this third category, Voegelin uses the word “rabble,” “in the sense that they neither have the authority of spirit or of reason, nor are they able to respond to reason or spirit, if it emerges advising them or reminding them.” Without this rabble of timeless moments of educated Germans, by no means the majority, the phenomenon of Hitler would have been impossible.


Sappho, the earliest and most famous Greek woman poet, sang her songs around 600 BCE on the island of Lesbos. Of the little that survives from the approximately nine papyrus scrolls collected in antiquity, all is translated here: substantial poems, fragments, single words - and, notably, five stanzas of a poem that came to light in 2014. Also included are new additions to five fragments from the latest discovery, and a nearly complete poem published in 2004.  Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works was translated from the ancient Greek by Diane J. Rayor, with an introduction and notes by André Lardinois(Cambridge University Press, 2014, 200 pages). 

Sappho has probably had more words written about her in proportion to her own surviving output than any other writer. A couple of complete poems and about two hundred fragments are all that remain of the nine substantial books, in diverse genres and meters, that she produced on her home island of Lesbos in the northeastern Aegean around 600 BC. Her poems could be consulted, complete, in the ancient libraries, including the famous one at Egyptian Alexandria. But they did not survive the millennium between the triumph of Christianity and the frantic export to the West of Greek manuscripts from Constantinople before it fell in 1453. Some Renaissance scholars believed that in the eleventh century Pope Gregory VII had all the manuscripts of Sappho burned as dangerously salacious. For more on Sappho go to: and


100 Classic Book Collection, known in North America as 100 Classic Books, is a computer program published by Nintendo & developed by Genius Sonority, which was released exclusively for the Nintendo DS. First released in Europe on December 26, 2008, it was later released in Australia on January 22, 2009 and in North America on June 14, 2010. The program includes one hundred public domain works of literature. Genius Sonority had previously released a similar collection of books in Japan under the title DS Bungaku Zenshuu on October 17, 2007. A smaller version of the collection consisting of 20 books under the title Chotto DS Bungaku Zenshu: Sekai no Bungaku 20 was released in Japan as a downloadable DSiWare application on February 25, 2009. FOR MORE GO TO:


Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, & other writings written in the Latin language. In many ways, Latin literature seems to be a continuation of Greek literature, using many of the same forms. But Latin literature also mirrored the life and history of ancient Rome.  Latin was the language of the ancient Romans, but it was also the lingua franca of Europe throughout the middle ages. Latin literature includes Roman authors like: Cicero, Vergil, Ovid & Lucretius. It also includes European writers after the fall of the Empire in the West in 476 C.E. Authors from religious writers like St. Augustine (354–430 CE), to secular writers like Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Spinoza (1632–1677) are included. Go to this link for details on the following aspects of Roman literature:

    1 Characteristics of Latin literature
    2 Language and form
    3 Latin in translation
    4 Early Latin literature
    5 The Golden Age
        5.1 The age of Cicero
        5.2 The Augustan Age
    6 Later Latin literature
        6.1 The Imperial Period
        6.2 Later periods


Section 1:

From 1989 to 1994 I taught ancient history, Greece one year(478 to 404 BC), and Rome(133 BC to 14 AD) the next. It was a matriculation subject producing graduates qualified to enter university in Western Australia if they passed the other requirements at matriculation level.  Another result of teaching ancient history was that it produced for my use several volumes of notes for my own personal study of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.  In the last two decades, from 1994 to 2014, I have continued this study, especially after I took an early retirement at the age of 55 in 1999. Those 6 years of teaching ancient history were my first serious and extended exposure to classical civilization although, as I point out in other places, I did study and teach ancient history and philosophy on other occasions in my lifespan. 

This particular study and teaching of ancient history occurred at the time when the international Baha’i community was engaged in what was called the Mt. Carmel Project. This project involved the embellishment of the spiritual and administrative centre of this new world Faith, a Faith that claims to be the newest of the Abrahamic religions.  The project was in full swing while I was teaching ancient history. The  juxtaposition of these two events in my life brought a special, a particular, new meaning into my life.   This study of classical civilization in the 1990s became a useful precursor to my future studies in this field.  As I was about to leave the world of being a student and/or in paid employment which had kept my nose to some kind of grindstone in various ways from 1949 to 1999, I had a foundation for this study during my retirement. They were studies which began to take place during the years of my retirement from FT, PT and volunteer work, a process which was completed by 2005. Now, in 2014, these studies during my retirement across a wide-range of disciplines happily occupy my time as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, online blogger and journalist, scholar and reader.

Section 2:

In the 20 years(1995-2015) since completing my teaching of these courses in ancient history, I have drawn on these notes and added to them from time to time. I now have 14 large files of notes: two on Roman authors, poets and historians.  The subject of classical civilization is of great interest to me particularly since there are so many obvious parallels and ideas that provide, at least for me, helpful perspectives for understanding my own society and the Baha’i Faith, humanity's history and future.  I studied and taught many subjects in the fifty years I was a student and a teacher, a lecturer and adult educator, among many other jobs in and out of the academic-education world.  Classical history, literature & philosophy did not occupy a central place in my studies back then. They contributed their part of my education as a generalist.  I am no specialist in any one subject.

After my retirement in 1999 classical studies came to occupy an important, if not central, place in the many subjects that occupied my attention. There is a core of information now in my files to build on, and that is what I have been doing in the two decades since completing my formal history teaching in December 1994.  Except for the notes on Cicero and Sallust, virtually all the material in these two volumes of notes on Roman authors has been added in the years 1995 to 2015.  

Section 3:

This category, ancient Roman writers, contains people who lived during the period of the Roman republic and/or the Roman empire. Aulus Gellius is said to be the first to have distinguished the "classic" writer from the "proletarius", the great writer from the scribbling rabble. Perhaps the first was Quintilian or Cicero. For many more writers go to:   Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin language. Beginning around the 3rd century BC, it took two centuries to become a dominant literature of Ancient Rome, with many educated Romans still reading and writing in Ancient Greek, as late as Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD). Latin literature was in many ways a continuation of Greek literature, using many of the same forms.

Latin was the language of the ancient Romans, but it was also the lingua franca of Europe throughout themiddle ages, so Latin literature includes not only Roman authors like Cicero, Vergil, Ovid and Horace, but also includes European writers after the fall of the Empire from religious writers like St. Augustine (354–430 AD) and Aquinas (1225–1274), to secular writers like Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and Baruch Spinoza(1632–1677). For more go to: Latin literature includes the essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings written in the Latin language. For more go to:

Ron Price
25/5/’12 to 10/8/'15.


Martha Craven Nussbaum(1947-) is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy, feminism, & ethics, including animal rights.  She is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law & Ethics at the University of Chicago, a chair that includes appointments in the philosophy department & the law school. She also holds associate appointments in classics, divinity, and political science. She is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a board member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown. Nussbaum has authored and edited a number of books, including: The Fragility of Goodness (1986), Sex and Social Justice (1998, with Juha Sihvola), The Sleep of Reason (2002), Hiding From Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (2004), Animal Rights (2004, co-editor with Cass Sunstein), and Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership (2006).

The Fragility of Goodness confronts the ethical dilemma that individuals strongly committed to justice face.  Such individuals are vulnerable to external factors that may deeply compromise or even negate their human flourishing.  Nussbaum discusses literary as well as philosophical texts, and seeks to determine the extent to which reason may enable self-sufficiency.  She eventually rejects the Platonic notion that human goodness can fully protect against peril, siding with the tragic playwrights and Aristotle in treating the acknowledgment of vulnerability as a key to realizing the human good. For more on Nussbaum go to: http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Martha_Nussbaum#The_Fragility_of_Goodness


The history of literature begins with the invention of writing, in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Writing developed out of proto-literate sign systems in the 30th century BCE, although the oldest known literary texts date from the 27th or 26th century BCE.  Literature from the Iron Age includes the earliest texts which have been preserved in a manuscript tradition.   There are also texts recovered by archeological searches. There are several literary traditions: the Avestan Gathas in the Zoroastrian tradition, the Indian Vedas from the Vedic period, parts of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament, and the earliest literature from Ancient Greece.

Classical Antiquity is generally considered to begin with Homer in the 8th century BCE, and it continues until the decline of the Roman Empire in the West in the 5th century CE. Although the earliest Classics were in Ancient Greek, from the 3rd century BCE Greek literature was joined by Latin literature. As well as the Western canon, there is also a period of classical Sanskrit literature and Sangam literature in India, Chinese classics in China, and in Late Antiquity the beginning of classical Syriac and Middle Persian literature.  A chronological list of literary works up until the 5th century CE can be found at the following link.  Literature of the 6th to 9th centuries is covered in Early medieval literature. For a list of the earliest testimony in each language, see the list of languages by first written accounts
at this link: