10 September

Classics of the Western World, published in three editions, 1927, 1934, and 1943, is based upon the reading lists from Columbia University's "great books" courses: the General Honors course, which turned into the Colloquium on Important Books; and the courses, Contemporary Civilization and Humanities. However, being a successful project published by the American Library Association, it warrants status as an separate list. An earlier version, Outline of Readings in Important Books, also based on Columbia classes, was published in 1924. For the most part, the Classics and Outline lists overlap, but the differences between them are significant enough that Outline conceivably could count as a separate list. It has a similar set-up, with both "required" and "recommended" entries, and is presented more clearly and includes fewer excerpts of works. Overall, it is a shorter, simpler list--alas, it was apparently supplanted by the Classics book, so I'm not including it, at least for now. The following link takes you to a full-text scan of Outline: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/1370682.html.

According to the book's Introduction, the faculty members who contributed are those "who taught Colloquium from 1940 to 1942, most of whom have been involved in the course since it succeeded General Honors in 1932: Professor Jacques Barzun, of the Department of History; Dr. Mason Gross and Professor James Gutmann, of the Department of Philosophy; Professor Moses Hadas of the Department of Classics; and Professor Lionel Trilling, Professor Raymond Weaver, Dr. Andrew Chiappe, and myself [Alan Willard Brown], of the Department of English." Of these eight, four of them (Barzun, Gross, Hadas, and Trilling) were major intellectual figures of the second half of the Twentieth Century; you can read about them in many encyclopedias or biographical directories.

Each section, usually defined by author ("Homer" and so on), is split into two sets of readings; the list used for this project only features the first, the "primary documents," not the second, which consists of literary criticism, biographies, and so on. The first sub-section also includes several recommended translations and versions; these are rarely noted, unlike with some other lists in the project, such as Harold Bloom's, wherein the list creators wanted to give especial attention to certain translations. 

The primary readings in these sub-sections are further split in two: the first set being the most significant, in alphabetical order; the second set, not as important, is arranged in order of "readability or importance, depending on the author," but the reader is given no indication throughout the text which authors have their secondary readings listed by which of those two factors. 

If an author's works are split into genres, each entry has two sets of sub-sections (the works themselves, and the works as split into genres), without us knowing which is higher in the organizational hierarchy. The reader also does not know if the order in which the different genres are listed has any meaning. In most cases, the readings under a genre tag seem to have been placed within the second set of readings, or the primary readings come from one genre while the secondary readings are of multiple genres. Or the editors could have intended the genre tag to indicate a new sub-section, instead of it being entirely subsumed into the sub-section of secondary readings. In other cases, a page break comes where we can assume a split between two sets of readings, but that assumption isn't safe. Overall, given the complexity of the arrangement of the works under each author, and the ineffective way in which the editors arranged them, we sometimes don't know if certain works are considered to be primary or secondary. These distinctions of course are not relevant to this project, but might be to those making use of this particular list.

We begin with the selections of the ancient era, leading to Saint Augustine.

1) Iliad
2) Odyssey

The Bible--Old Testament
Genesis, Amos, Isaiah 41-56, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Psalms: 1, 8, 19, 23, 29, 51, 90, 91, 104, 121, 128, 137, 139, 148, 150.

Aeschylus [525-456 B C]
3) [Oresteia] Agamemnon, Cho√ęphoroe (Libation-Bearers), Eumenides, 4) Prometheus
5) The Persians, 6) Seven Against Thebes, 7) The Suppliants

Sophocles [496-406 B C]
8) Antigone, 9) Electra, 10) Oedipus Rex, 11) Philoctetes
12) Ajax, 13) Trachiniae, 14) Oedipus at Colonus

Euripides [480-406 B C]
15) Medea, 16) Electra, 17) Hippolytus, 18) Trojan Woman, 19) Bacchae
20) Alcestis, 21) Ion, 22) Iphigenia in Tauris, 23) Cyclops

Herodotus [c. 480-c. 425 B C]
24) Books I, II, VI, and VII of the History
The remaining books of the History

Thucydides [c. 460-c. 400 B C]
25) Books I, II, VI, and VII of The History of the Peloponnesian War
The remaining books of the History

Aristophanes [c. 448-c. 380 B C]
26) Frogs, 27) Clouds, 28) Birds, 29) Lysistrata
30) Thesmophoriazusae, 31) Acharnians, 32) Peace

Plato [c. 427-347 B C]
33) Apology, 34) Crito, 35) Euthyphro, 36) Protagoras
37) Symposium, 38) Phaedo, 39) Republic, 40) Phaedrus
41) Theaetetus, 42) Sophist, 43) Timaeus
(These readings in Plato are arranged in three groups of equal importance, but increasing difficulty.)

Aristotle [384-322 B C]
44) Nicomachean Ethics, especially books 1-3, 6, and 10
45) Poetics

De Anima, books I and II

Demosthenes [383-322 B C]
46) Philippic I; 47) Olynthiacs 1, 2, 3; 48) On the Crown
Aeschines - 49) On the Crown [Against Ctesiphon]

Plautus [c. 254-184 B C]
50) Amphitryo, 51) Menaechmi
52) Miles Gloriosus, 53) Mostellaria, 54) Rudens

Terence [185-159 B C]
55) Phormio, 56) Andria
57) Hecyra (The Mother-in-Law), 58) Heautontimorumenos (The Self-Punisher), 59) Eunuchus, and 60) Adelphi

Hellenistic Poetry
61) Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica
Theocritus, Bion, Moschus
62) The Greek Anthology

Cicero [100-43 B C]
Orations: 63) In Catilinam, 64) Pro Archia, 65) Pro Cluentio, 66) Pro Milone, Second Philippic
67) De Amicitia (On Friendship)
68) De Senectute (On Old Age)

De Officiis (The Offices), book I
Tusculan Disputations, book I
De Finibus (On the Ends of Good and Evil), book V
Selected Letters

Caesar [100-44 B C]
69) The Gallic War
70) The Civil War

Lucretius [c. 99-c. 55 B C]
71) The complete De Rerum Natura (Of the Nature of Things)

Catullus [87-c. 54 B C]
72) The collected Poems

Vergil [70-19 B C]
73) Aeneid
The fourth Eclogue

74) The Georgics
75) The Eclogues

Horace [65-8 B C]
76) Odes and 77) Epodes

78) Satires, 79) Epistles
80) Ars Poetica

Livy [59 B C-17 A D]
Ab Urbe Condita (The Roman History or The History of Rome) Books 1, 2, 5, 21, 22

Ovid [43 B C-17 A D]
81) The Metamorphoses

82) Ars Amatoria

Seneca [4 B C-65 A D]
Tragedies: 83) Hippolytus, 84) Thyestes
Dialogues: 85) On Constancy, 86) On the Shortness of Life, 87) Consolation to Marcia
Letters: 1-28, 47, 77, 107, 108

The Bible--New Testament
Although a reading of the whole is recommended, certain books are more important than others and may be read profitably in the following order:
the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke
the gospel of John
I Corinthians

The Acts of the Apostles
The remaining books

Petronius [?-66 A D]
88) Satyricon, especially that part of it which is devoted to the account of Trimalchio's dinner

Quintilian [c. 35-95 A D]
Institutio Oratoria, Book 10

Plutarch [50-125 A D]
Pericles, Alcibiades, Alexander, Agis and Cleomences, Cato the Elder, The Gracchi,
Coriolanus, Caesar, and (from the Moralia) On the Delay of Divine Providence (De Sera Numinis Vindicta)

Tacitus [55?-117? A D]
90) The Annals and 91) Germany
92) Dialogue on Oratory

Lucian [c. 120-190 A D]
93) The Vision
94) Dialogues of the Gods
95) Dialogues of the Dead
96) Sale of Creeds
97) The Way to Write History
98) The True History

99) Alexander the Oracle Monger
100) The Cock
101) Icaromenippus
102) The Liar
103) The Death of Peregrine
104) A Literary Prometheus

Marcus Aurelius [121-180 A D] -- Epictetus [c. 60-c. 120 A D]
105) Marcus Aurelius, To Himself (Meditations)

Epictetus, 106) Discourses and 107) Enchiridion

Plotinus [c. 204-c. 270]
Fifth Ennead, Books 1
Fourth Ennead, Book 8
Sixth Ennead, Book 4
Third Ennead, Book 8
Third Ennead, Book 5
First Ennead, Book 6
Fifth Ennead, Book 8
Porphyry's Life of Plotinus
(There is no "first" reading recommended here.)


continued at 12 September and 13 September