Literature of any culture or era serves many valuable purposes. Literature may be a source of valuable information from the experiences of the past generations. It may also be a source of a deep insight onto the mistakes committed that had huge repercussions for a whole generation in an era. Some literature may also be just a source of enjoyment in form of love stories or poems. When discussing literature, Greek era can’t be overseen. It holds one of the most classical literature and serves multiple purposes. Greek classics literature use comedy to teach valuable lessons. On the other hand, some Greek classics debate on serious topics concerning politics or law and can be a guide for many professionals of this era! From the piles of Greek literature, we have used credible sources to list of Greek classics that everyone should read:
Most of these Greek classics online version are also available. We have mentioned the appropriate links where possible.
- Author: Sophocles
- Published: 429 BC
Oedipus the King, known as Oedipus Rex in Latin, is a play written by Sophocles. Written in Latin language the story revolves around a tragedy. This story starts with the Thebes being struck with plague. The cause of this plague is believed to be the unlawful freedom of the ex-king’s murderer named Oedipus which people believe was their son. The queen of Thebes doesn’t believe this story at first. Her disbelief is because she and her husband, the king, abandoned their child at a very early stage. Later, her husband was killed by robbers. On the other hand, Oedipus himself starts to doubt himself as the king’s (his father’s) murderer as he recalls himself killing a man on a roadside. He also recalls marrying the widowed queen to become the king. When this story is confirmed, the queen hangs herself while Oedipus punctures his eyes to become blind.
Click here to read “Oedipus Rex” online.
9-Discourses of Epictetus
- Author: Arrian
- Published: 108 A.D
Among Greek and roman classics “Discourses of Epictetus” is most famous one. Discourses of Epictetus is a teachings-based extract written by Arrian in 108 A.D. It is an extract of the scholastic teachings of the famous philosopher Epictetus. This piece of work is based on Stoicism. Stoicism is the ignorance of one’s surroundings. Written in ancient Greek language, this piece of work educates people about the consequences a nation can encounter when concentration of the people shift to luxuries instead of surroundings. It teaches this with the help of the example of the downfall of Greece, where people started ignoring prominent signs which led to the subsequent rise of the Romans.
Click here to read “Discourses of Epictetus” online
- Author: Aristophanes
- Published: 405 BC
The Frogs revolves around a comedy yet serves a great message of the writer’s opinions about democracy and politics in Athens. It is written by a classical comedy writer Aristophanes. It is based on a God Dionysus who goes in the underworld to rescue Euripides. Among the ancient Greek classics, this comedy was written around in 405 BC where it received the first prize for its great quality. It is a must read for anyone who wishes to take an insight on ancient Greek comedy.
Click here to read “The Frogs” online
- Author: Sophocles
- Published: 440 B.C.E
Ajax is a play written by Sophocles. It was written in the 5th century BC. This play was held in Athens, Greece. It revolves around a tragedy. The core story revolves around the play’s hero Ajax. It shows how an uncompromising, rude and violent behavior makes Ajax a stubborn in realizing his own flaws. The play shows how a stubborn Ajax rejected the kind help offered by the play’s goddess “Athena” which became the root cause of a severe tragedy. One of the best Greek classics and It is a must read for everyone. It teaches important life lessons to be flexible in listening to others and to avoid extreme anger or severe reaction. It also discusses a common debate on fate vs a human’s choice of actions.
Click here to read “Ajax” online
- Author: Aristotle
- Published: 4th century BC
This is a remarkable piece of work written by the well-known philosopher and writer Aristotle. It is a book that covers a lot of aspects such as: detailed analysis on politics, discussing different types and features of democracies and much more! It also discusses what are the major offices required to run a successful government and what should be their respective tasks. To make the book easy to read, Aristotle divided this series into 8 set of books. Each book covers a well-classified set of topics to make it a step by step information guide for every reader. It is as useful as a handbook guide for the people related with politics or law nowadays. Aristotle also gives his verdict with supporting arguments about martial laws or dictatorships being the worst form of government for any state.
Click here to read “Politics” online
- Author: Plato
- Published: 360 BC
“The Republic” was written by Plato in 360 BC. It was initially written in Greek but was later translated in other languages. The Republic is a fact finding draft. It formalizes the definition of justice. It is considered as one of the best hand written work topping the list of most influential books. Its main theme is philosophy and political theory. Several famous personalities of that time used to discuss their views and opinions regarding justice. They tried to determine the fate of a just and an unjust man. All these common ideas were analyzed by Plato and made into a series of books which illustrate political philosophy.
In total, there are 10 books of this series. It deals with the various subjects related with politics like timocracy, diarchy, and tyranny. It even defines democracy which is currently being followed around the globe. This practice of writing on overly governed systems, qualities of a just and good leader etc. These principles ere later followed by Aristotle as well. It is recommended to be read by the present day politicians and lawyers to gain valuable information from this illustrative book for their own good.
Click here to read “The Republic” online
- Author: Herodotus
- Published: 440 BCE
“Histories” also known as the “The History” is part of the western literature by Herodotus in Ancient Greek. It was first time published in 440 BCE. This book mostly covers Greek and roman civilization. It basically deals with the records of ancient customs, geography, and politics and clashes that brewed within several cultures. So, it is considered as a record book. In the western part of the world it holds a fundamental position when referring to records of past regarding the above mentioned topics. It gives full information about the rise and declines of empires.
A particular one described by Herodotus in detail in his draft “Histories” is Persian Empire’s progress. The whole set of this piece of work is divided into 9 parts. Each of them mentions about different wars etc. This factual account is really good and informative for geologists, historians and politicians. This can be read by any individual; not necessarily a politician or historian as it broadens one’s mind and increases knowledge.
Click here to read “Histories” online
See Also: 10 Most Evil Popes in History
- Author: Xenophon
- Published: 370 BC
Cyropaedia, also pronounced as cyropedia is an imaginary biography of Cyrus the Great. This was written in 370 BC by a solider and student of Socrates, Xenophon. The title “Cyropaedia” means education of Cyrus. This is a Greek draft. It precisely describes the character, education and life of one of the rulers called Cyrus. This draft mentions the good governance of Cyrus as well as he being an ideal ruler. Tribute to Cyrus is paid by Xenophon in his Cyropaedia. There are 8 books giving an account of Cyrus’ life. The beginning of this series comprising of 8 books tells that why people obey rules willingly and why others don’t. As this series reaches the middle of the account, it lists Cyrus’ conquests and tactics used by him to establish his empire. The last book is based on a summary of his whole reign and his views of monarchy.
Click here to read “Cyropaedia” online
- Author: Homer
- Published: 1180 BC
“Iliad” also known as “song of lion” is basically an ancient poem written by Homer. This story covers details about the Greek states. It covers the events occurring at that time in Greece and the battles fought mainly between King Agamemnon and the Warrior Achilles. “lliad” also gives details about the preparations of wars like gathering warriors, preparing them and etc. It mentions the cause of war and it’s after effects as well.
The main themes of this poem are Nostos, Kleos, time, wrath and fate. Nostos is mentioned seven times in the whole poem. Kleos or ‘glory’ indicates the heroic battles fought at that time. Time links with the subjects like respect and honor, praising the honorable men of that time who were culturally, politically and martially famous and successful. Wrath is one of the starting words of this poem, meaning rage or anger. This actually describes the wrath of Achilles. The last theme is fate which mainly discusses the end of one’s life that is death. This poem is good for historians as it is a good explanatory verse about wars in past.
Click here to read “lliad” online
- Author: Apollonius Rhodius
- Published: 3rd century BC
Apollonius was born in Alexandria. He was an epic poet, a librarian and a scholar as well. He being a poet wrote Argonautica, an epic Greek poem written in 3rd century BC. The poem is based on the adventures of Jason and Argonauts to Golden Fleece from Colchis. It also includes the relationship between Jason and Medea. This is considered as one of the top initial poems written with the theme of love and romance. “Argonautica” considered as the base for the upcoming romantic stories and novels. This is an excellent verse for those who are fond of book reading and have interests in subjects like romantic literature and ancient Greek poetry.
Click here to read “Argonautica” online
What is your Greek classics reading list? Tell us in comments below.