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Read Me What to read, through 301 B.C.

300 B.C.-A.D. 300 /\

Annotations: One star: to Five stars: (rating)     Etext: (etexts)     Study: (study guides)     Reference: (references)     Criticism: (criticism)     Note: (note)     Comment: (comment)

Comment: Don’t send books everywhere to advertise your wisdom to every man and woman... --Plutarch {Rhetorically addressing Epicurus}, Is 'Live Unknown' a Wise Precept? 3, p. 1129A

\/ 4th Century B.C.

CALLIMACHUS (310/305–240 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: A Hellenistic Bibliography
Note: a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria --Wikipedia

XUNZI (c. 312–230 B.C.) [Hsun Tzu] Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought. Xunzi believed man's inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, counter to Mencius's view that man is innately good. --Wikipedia
Xunzi (collected essays)
Comment: Writings of the third great formulator of Confucian teaching ... who gave special attention to the basis of learning and rites. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

THEOCRITUS (315-260 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Ancient History Sourcebook
Note: creator of ancient Greek bucolic poetry --Wikipedia
Note: His poems were termed eidyllia ("idylls"), a diminutive of eidos, which may mean "little poems." --Encyclopaedia Britannica

CHANAKYA (fl. 322-299 B.C.) [Kautilya, or Vishnugupta] Etext: The Online Books Page | SD State South Asian Studies Reference: Warring States Philology
Note: an Indian teacher, philosopher, and royal advisor. --Wikipedia
Arthashastra (Economics, c. late 4th Century A.D.)
Comment: Rediscovered as recently as 1909, the book reversed earlier views on the strict moral code of early Indian rulers, in fact recognizing no good other than the ruthless seeking and keeping of power by the king. --Philip Ward

One star: Upanishads (c. 6th Century B.C. to the Maurya period, 322 B.C.-185 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a collection of philosophical texts which form the theoretical basis for the Hindu religion. They are also known as Vedanta ("the end of the Veda"). --Wikipedia
Comment: The philosophers deal with the responsibilities of the self in the cosmos, with individual salvation, with the vexed problem of the relations of a personal soul or atman to the world soul, or the real, or 'God' (brahman), or alternatively the identity of atman and brahman. --Philip Ward

EUCLID (c. 330-275 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: [see Proclus] | post
Note: a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". --Wikipedia
Two stars: Elements
Comment: It it the classic textbook of Greek geometry, which has served as the basis for study for over twenty centuries. --Peter Wolff
Comment: ...founded his geometry on a few simple declarations of self-evident truths, postulates and axioms, none of which was seriously questioned until the mid-nineteenth century. --Robert B. Downs

EPICURUS (341-270 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Criticism: Richard Weikart review
Note: an ancient Greek philosopher as well as the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Only a few fragments and letters of Epicurus's 300 written works remain. --Wikipedia
Comment: his teachings were malinged as immoral and hedonistic, whereas in fact Epicurus taught the renunciation of worldly ambition and desires, freedom from fear of death and gods. --Philip Ward
One star: Letter to Herodotus
One star: Letter to Menoeceus

MENANDER (342/41-292 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Theatre History
Note: a Greek dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. --Wikipedia
The Grouch (Dyskolos, 317-316 B.C.)
One star: The Girl from Samos (Samia, 315 or 309 B.C.)
The Shearing of Glycera (Perikeiromene, c. 314/13 B.C.)
The Arbitration (Epitrepontes)

Jataka tales (4th Century B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Wikipedia entry
Comment: a collection of 547 stories aboutevents in the life of Buddha in his many incarnations before birth as Prince Siddhartha in 563 B.C.E. --Grant L. Voth

Note: Herostratus (the man who in 356 B.C. burned down the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, so his name would be immortal). --Joseph Bottum

ZHUANGZI (c.369-286 B.C.) [Chuang Tzu] Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Encyclopaedia Britannica entry
Note: an influential Chinese philosopher who lived ... during the Warring States period, a period corresponding to the summit of Chinese philosophy, the Hundred Schools of Thought. --Wikipedia
Comment: A philosophical work of the Taoist school ... characterized by speculative ramblings, at once delightful and utterly serious, philosophical parodies, and amusing parables. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

THEOPHRASTUS (c. 371-c. 287 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Theophrastus Project
Note: the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. ... He is often considered the "father of botany" for his works on plants. --Wikipedia
Enquiry into Plants (Historia Plantarum, c. 320 B.C.)
Comment: chiefly concerned with descriptions, discussions of structural parts of plants, and differences between plants. --Robert B. Downs
On the Causes of Plants (c. 320 B.C.)
Comment: delves more deeply into the physiological features and philosophical implications of plants. --Robert B. Downs
Characters (319 B.C.)
Comment: The series of 'good' characters has been lost, but we have the thirty 'bad' characters, such as 'Ostentation', 'Brutality', and 'Stupidity'. Concise, droll and probably aimed at individuals known to the author's audience... --Philip Ward

MENCIUS (372-289 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Comparative Religion
Note: a Chinese philosopher who is the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself. --Wikipedia
One star: Mencius
Comment: Relatively little needs to be done, for the structure of society itself is sound, according to Mencius. All that is required is a change of heart on the part of the rulers, and the citizens would instantly respond with the generosity of their own labour and imitation of virtuous conduct. --Philip Ward

Three stars: Analects (Lun-yu, post-Confucius, d. 479 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Sacred Texts [see Confucius Reference: Wikipedia entry]
Note: the collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been written by Confucius' followers. --Wikipedia
Comment: one should strive to achieve ren (true humanity, goodness) in a social framework of li (order and correct behaviour) governed by the te (virtue, power) of the ruler. --Philip Ward
Comment: Confucius' most important departure from the old aristocratic point of view was his rejection of the idea that nobility was inborn. Nobility (or perhaps gentility) was for him a mark of education and conduct. --William H. McNeill

DEMOSTHENES (384-322 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive
Note: His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece --Wikipedia
Comment: the greatest orator of Greece, with a forceful personality imbued with sincerity and moral strength. He was an able analyst of current politics, and skilled in argument and all the rhetorical devices named by the Syracusan Corax and his pupil Teisias in their treatises. --Philip Ward
Olynthiacs (351-349 B.C.)
One star: Philippics (351-349, 344-341 B. C.)
Comment: he held aloft the image of a barbarous, devious, aggressive Philip, a warlord who was inexorably encroaching on Athenian interests with a fantastically powerful army. --James Romm
On the Crown (330 B. C.)
Minor Public Orations Reference: Works at Wikipedia

ARISTOTLE (384-322 B. C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Study: Robert C. Koons lecture Reference: Paul Bullen fan site | John C. Cahalan fan site Criticism: post
Note: a Greek philosopher ... Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing ethics, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics. ... With the request of Philip of Macedonia he became a tutor for Alexander in 356-323 BCE. --Wikipedia
One star: Logic (Organon)
Comment: Logic, the art and method of correct thinking, was created by Aristotle virtually single-handed in a series of trail-blazing treatises known collectively as the Organon or Instrument--the science of science. --Robert B. Downs
One star: Categories (Categoriae, in Logic)
Comment: deals with ten predicates--i.e., qualities, attributes, or properties. These are substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, condition, action, and passion. --Robert B. Downs
One star: On Interpretation (De Interpretatione, in Logic)
Comment: deals with propositions and judgments and the distinction between true and false. --Robert B. Downs
Prior Analytics (Analytica Priora, in Logic)
Comment: on deductive and inductive reasoning, presents the famous concept of the syllogism... --Robert B. Downs
Posterior Analytics (Analytica Posteriora, in Logic)
Comment: treats in detail the characteristics which reasoning must possess in order to be truly scientific. --Robert B. Downs
One star: Topics (Topica, in Logic)
Comment: The subject matter...is the modes of reasoning at lower levels, falling short of the conditions of scientific accuracy. Here are dealt with the commonplaces of argument. --Robert B. Downs
One star: On Sophistical Refutation (De Sophisticis Elenchis, in Logic)
Comment: study of fallacies or sophisms as they may appear in dialectical discussions. --Robert B. Downs
One star: Physics (Physica)
Comment: Four causes...are at work in nature... . As defined, the first cause is material, i.e., the constituent of an object...; the second is the form or pattern; the third is the 'efficient' cause, i.e., 'that from which comes the immediate origin of the movement or rest'; and the fourth is the 'final' cause, that is, the end or aim... --Robert B. Downs
On the Heavens (De Caelo)
On Generation and Corruption (De Generatione et Corruptione)
Meteorology (Meteorologica)
Comment: contains not only meteorology in the modern sense, but much of physics, astronomy, geology and chemistry. --Robert B. Downs
On the Soul (De Anima)
Comment: As the essence of the body, the soul is the inner meaning of the body's movement, not something extraneous to it. --V. J. McGill
Comment: [T]o have a soul, as plants, animals, and humans all do, is to have a body organized for performing the life functions proper to a given species. Soul, as such, is nothing more (but also nothing less) than the combination of functional capacities for which the material body is organized. --M. F. Burnyeat
Memory and Reminiscence (De Memoria et Reminiscentia, in The Parva Naturalia, "Little Physical Treatises")
On Divination in Sleep (De Divinatione per Somnum, in The Parva Naturalia, "Little Physical Treatises")
On Youth, Old Age, Life and Death, and Respiration (De Juventute et Senectute, De Vita et Morte, De Respiratione, in The Parva Naturalia, "Little Physical Treatises")
History of Animals (Historia Animalium)
Comment: He recorded the main facts of biological life--as he saw them...and continued with a series of specialized treatises... --Robert B. Downs
Parts of Animals (De Partibus Animalium)
Comment: Linneaus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in different ways, but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle. --Charles Darwin
Motion of Animals (De Motu Animalium)
Generation of Animals (De Generatione Animalium)
Comment: treating the organs of reproduction and the reproductive functions. This work made important contributions to the science of embryology. --Robert B. Downs
Mechanics (Mechanica)
Metaphysics (Metaphysica)
Comment: The very title of this work has provided the name for one of the main branches of philosophical inquiry--the study of the underlying principles of things. --Seymour Cain
Four stars: Nicomachean Ethics (Ethica Nicomachea) Reference: Mortimer J. Adler lecture Criticism: Susan D. Collins review
Comment: the only sound and pragmatic moral philosophy that has made its appearance in the last twenty-five centuries. --Mortimer J. Adler
Three stars: Politics (Politica)
Comment: If each of us has the obligation to vote for a system of government through its known candidates, then much of this obligation is owed to a mental and moral world-attitude crystallised by Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. --Philip Ward
One star: Rhetoric (Ars Rhetorica)
Comment: The object of advocacy is persuasion. But how does one persuade? That question has challenged great minds since at least the days when Aristotle lectured about the persuasive power of ethos, pathos, and logos at the Lyceum during the reign of his pupil, Alexander the Great. --R. Daniel Lindahl
Four stars: Poetics (Ars Poetica)
Comment: Hollywood takes its cue in narrative principles from Aristotle. Europe, in rebelling against Hollywood-style filmmaking, has had to rebel against Aristotle's Poetics. This is bad for their movies. --Barbara Nicolosi
Comment: often considered a mere reply to Plato's disparagement of poets on the grounds that they compose their works under the influence not of wisdom but of mere inspiration, but this charge is baseless, since Aristotle puts forward many original ideas of his own. --Philip Ward
Comment: All thinking about mimesis (imitation) and catharsis (the purging effect of tragedy) starts here; yet essentially a modest and undogmatic set of notes. --Raphael and McLeish
Constitution of the Athenians (Athenaion Politeia, 350 B.C.)
Comment: in Aristotle's time the legislative, executive, and judicial power were all in the hands of the people. --Peter Wolff

PATANJALI Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: Although the Yoga Sutras have become the most important text of Yoga, the opinion of many scholars is that Patanjali was not the creator of Yoga, which existed well before him, but merely a great expounder. --Wikipedia
One star: Yoga Sutras
Note: approximately 400 BCE --Wikipedia
Comment: The classical Hindu philosophical treatise on the discipline of yoga, which, though one of the oldest concepts of Indian civilization, continues to attract the serious attention of the Western world. --A Guide to Oriental Classics
Comment: The aphorisms are not in any sense a philosophical or religious system: they are practical notes towards the attainment of certain psychological states. --Philip Ward

/\ 4th Century B.C.
\/ 5th Century B.C.

PLATO (428/427-348/347 B. C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Study: Robert C. Koons lecture Reference: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Criticism: post
Note: a philosopher in Classical Greece. He was also a mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. --Wikipedia
Comment: It was Plato's contribution to formulate a mode of philosophical discourse that emphasized reason, the meaning of words, and the crucial relationship between the knower and the known. In a sense, Plato thereby 'invented' the task of systematic philosophy itself, which his influence is felt even today among philosophers who come to conclusions that are the opposite of his. --Robert L. Heilbroner
One star: Euthyphro (before 387 B.C.) Criticism: Phillip N. Goggans essay
Comment: If piety is right action or duty to the gods, it must be an aspect or part of right action generally. --Seymour Cain
Comment: His [Socrates'] death sentence is not the work of the Laws themselves, but of his fellow men; nevertheless to leave as a fugitive... would be to repay wrong with wrong, and to break his agreements and contracts with the Laws. --Anthony O'Hear
Four stars: Apology (before 387 B.C.) Etext: Terrence Berres Criticism: Priscilla Sakezles essay
Comment: The candour, dignity and nobility of the language and matter must be authentic, for Athenians would scarcely have tolerated misrepresentation of the facts in such a weighty case. --Philip Ward
Three stars: Crito (before 387 B.C.)
Comment: He [Socrates] will never stop discussing goodness and all the other topics he is interested in, for that would be to disobey God: the unexamined life is not worth living. --Anthony O'Hear
Charmides (before 387 B.C.)
Laches (before 387 B.C.)
Comment: We all know what it means to experience fear and to face, or fail to face, the things we fear.
This common human experience is the basic starting point for anything we may say or think about courage. --Seymour Cain
Lysis (before 387 B.C.)
Ion (before 387 B.C.)
One star: Protagoras (before 387 B.C.)
Euthydemus (before 387 B.C.)
One star: Gorgias (before 387 B.C.)
Comment: Against all skills, pleasures, and powers, the impassioned and relentless philosopher holds up the single ideal of 'justice' or 'the good'. And he insists that doing injustice--harming others--is always wrong and always worse for the person who does it than suffering injustice is for the person who suffers it. --Seymour Cain
Comment: ...Plato's most modern of Dialogues... --Richard Lewontin
One star: Meno (c. 387-380 B.C.) Study: Leo Strauss lectures
Cratylus (c. 387-380 B.C.)
Three stars: Phaedo (c. 380-360 B.C.)
Comment: a dialogue within a dialogue, in which the eye-witness Phaedo of Elis discusses the last day that Socrates spent in prison with a company of fellow-philosophers. --Philip Ward
Three stars: Symposium (c. 380-360 B.C.)
Comment: ...Socrates and several of his convivial friends are gathered around a banquet table. ... Each guest in turn discourse on love from his individual viewpoint... --Robert B. Downs
Five stars: Republic (Politeia, c. 380-360 B.C.)
Comment: The cave is our politics, and the prisoners' chains represent enthrallment to the delusions by which we live. We can, some of us, some of the time, escape from them, but we always have to come back to them. --Harvey C. Mansfield
Comment: Though it is best known for its description of an ideal state, the fundamental question addressed in Plato's Republic is whether or not virtue is the key to happinesss. --David Mulroy
Seventh Letter (c. 360 B.C.)
Comment: It concerns Plato's three visits to Syracuse, far away on the island of Sicily, where, at great hazard to his life, he sought to persuade the young tyrant Dionysius to institute a reign of law and justice. --V. J. McGill
Comment: instead of succeeding in making a philosopher-king out of Dionysius, Plato very quickly became involved in the intrigues of the Syracusan court. Dionysius was apparently more interested in using Plato as a pawn in his political machinations than in learning from him... --Peter Wolff
Comment: The philosopher-king is an 'ideal,' not in the modern sense of a legitimate object of thought demanding realization, but what Socrates calls a 'dream' that serves to remind us how unlikely it is that the philosophical life and the demands of politics can ever be made to coincide. --Mark Lilla
One star: Theaetetus (c. 360-355 B.C.)
Parmenides (c. 360-355 B.C.)
One star: Phaedrus (c. 360-355 B.C.)
Comment: In the famous metaphor of Plato's Phaedrus, reason is a charioteer who drives two horses, one noble and obedient, representing the will, the other passionate, headlong, and uncontrolled, representing desire. When the latter has his way the chariot is wrecked and the soul destroyed. --V. J. McGill
One star: Sophist (c. 355-347 B.C.)
One star: Statesman (Politikos, c. 355-347 B.C.) Criticism: Mary Ann Glendon essay
Comment: Originally, it is theorized, God ruled over men and cared for them. For unknown reasons, the perfect state came to an end, to be succeeded by the various types of government now to be found in the world. --Robert B. Downs
Philebus (c. 355-347 B.C.)
One star: Timaeus (c. 355-347 B.C.) Criticism: James Davidson review
Comment: according to Timaeus, hypotheses must be used in cosmology, because the creation and constitution of the world is too difficult to permit precise knowledge. --Peter Wolff
Comment: Predominant throughout is the thought that the universe is a product and revelation of intelligent design and beneficent purpose. --Robert B. Downs
One star: Laws (c. 355-347 B.C.)
Comment: A significant indication of change in Plato's political theories is abandonment in the 'Laws' of the more unrealistic doctrines of communism contained in the 'Republic'. --Robert B. Downs

XENOPHON (c. 430-354 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Ancient History Sourcebook Reference: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Sanderson Beck fan site Criticism: Robin Waterfield essay
Note: a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates. ... He is known for writing about the history of his own times, the late 5th and early 4th centuries BC, especially for his account of the final years of the Peloponnesian War. --Wikipedia
One star: Anabasis
Comment: Fascinating memoir of the extrication of 10,000 Greek mercenaries from Persia by the general who lead them. --Raphael and McLeish
Cyropaedia (Kurou Paideia)
Comment: a political fiction, in which the ideal ruler (Cyrus, known personally to Xenophon) undergoes the education of a Spartan youth. --Philip Ward
Memorabilia (Apomnemoneumata)
Comment: make Socrates sound like Boswell's Dr. Johnson. --Edward T. Oakes

ARISTOPHANES (c. 445-c. 380 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Adelaide | Internet Classics Archive Reference: Theatre History
Note: a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his thirty plays survive virtually complete. --Wikipedia
Comment: The chief characteristics of the [Old Comedy] genre (unlike any modern comic form) were unrestrained license in attacking public personalities, through burlesque, caricature, and invective; broad political, social, and literary satire; and a licentiousness of expression beyond any since tolerated on the stage of any nation. --Robert B. Downs
One star: The Acharnians (Akharneis, 425 B.C.) Criticism: Thomas Jones column
Comment: 'The Acharnians', the 'Peace', and the 'Lysistrata' are all anti-war plays. --Philip Ward
One star: The Knights (Hippeis, 424 B.C.)
Comment: attacked the demagogue Kleon. --Philip Ward
Three stars: The Clouds (Nephela, 423 B.C.)
Comment: attacks the popular sophists of the day through the person of Socrates, a most unjust caricature, since Socrates detested the superficial sophists who taught rich young men for money as much as did Aristophanes himself. --Philip Ward
One star: The Wasps (Sphekes, 422 B.C.)
Comment: satirizes the Athenian system of trial by mass paid juries. --Philip Ward
One star: The Peace (Eirene, 421 B.C.)
Three stars: The Birds (Ornithes, 414 B.C.)
Comment: ...Peisthetaerus (Plausible) and Euelpides (Hopeful), disgusted with the state of affairs in Athens, journey to Birdland, 'a city free from all care and strife', to consult King Epops, the Hoopoe. Suddenly the two Athenians are struck by an inspiration--to turn over supreme power in the universe to the birds. --Robert B. Downs
Three stars: The Lysistrata (Lysistrate, 411 B.C.) Criticism: Peter Jones column
Comment: The principal character, Lysistrata, a woman of Athens, conceives the idea of stopping the war by persuading all the women of Athens and Sparta to refrain from intercourse with their husbands until the latter cease their stupidities and arrange a truce. --Robert B. Downs
Two stars: Thesmophoriazusae or The Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria (Thesmophoriazousai, c. 411 B.C.)
Comment: 'The Frogs' and 'The Thesmophorians' are attacks on Euripedes, whom the conservative Aristophanes hated for his radical views of the Greek gods. --Philip Ward
Three stars: The Frogs (Batrakhoi, 405 B.C.)
Comment: Aristophanes' attack on the dead Euripides in 'The Frogs' is a direct reflection of a bitter antagonism. --Robert B. Downs
One star: The Assemblywomen or Ecclesiasuzae (Ekklesiazousai, c. 392 B. C.)
Comment: This play ... is a satire on communism, women's rights and sex... . --Raphael and McLeish
One star: Wealth (Ploutos, 388 B.C.)

THUCYDIDES (455-399 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Criticism: post
Note: a Greek historian and Athenian general. ... Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" because of his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods --Wikipedia
Five stars: History of the Peloponnesian War (c. 410 B.C.)
Comment: Nothing written in this century can touch Thucydides (or the people he quotes) for subtlety of political and diplomatic discourse and strategy. --Thomas C. Schnelling

HIPPOCRATES (460-377 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles (Classical Greece) ... referred to as the father of western medicine --Wikipedia
One star: The Oath
Comment: You will easily see that there are great difficulties and hazards in specifying the conditions under which a doctor would be entitled to completely reverse the role of healer and prolonger of life. --V. J. McGill
Comment: [T]he Hippocratic ethical injunctions--for example, that the doctor should never knowingly kill his patient--have been superseded in practical importance by the more pressing principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune. --Anthony Daniels
One star: On Ancient Medicine
Comment: It would seem that Hippocrates was ill prepared to understand the nature of disease or its remedies, yet students of the history of medicine have been surprised at how far he was able to go. --V. J. McGill
One star: On the Sacred Disease
One star: Aphorisms
Comment: His method was to ignore all the gods and to hold instead that disease is a natural phenomenon governed by natural laws. --Robert B. Downs
One star: The Book of Prognostics
One star: The Law
One star: Of the Epidemics
One star: On Airs, Waters and Places
One star: On Regimens in Acute Diseases
One star: On the Articulations

MOZI (c. 470-c. 391 B.C.) [Mo Tzu] Etext: Chinese Text Project Reference: Chad Hansen essay
Note: a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period (early Warring States period). ... he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism. --Wikipedia
One star: Mozi
Comment: A sharp critic of Confucianism in the late fifth and early fourth centuries B.C., and a major alternative in politics and religion. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

EURIPIDES (c. 480-406 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Reference: Theatre History
Note: one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens ... Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most. Of these, eighteen or nineteen have survived complete --Wikipedia
Comment: The innovations of Euripides include the separation of chorus from action, using the prologue as an explanation to introduce the action, advancing dramatic treatment of female psychology to the very limit, and making language correspond to the colloquial styles of his own day... --Philip Ward
Three stars: Alcestis (438 B.C.)
Note: His earliest dated work... --Philip Ward
Four stars: Medea (431 B.C.) Criticism: Daniel Mendelsohn review essay
Comment: The motif of the tragedy of 'Medea' is of betrayed love turned to hatred, of a woman's soul so dominated by lust for vengeance that even maternal feeling is annihilated. --Robert B. Downs
Heracleidae (c. 430 B.C.)
Four stars: Hippolytus (428 B.C.)
Comment: It is a full-length study--probably the first in dramatic literature--of criminal passion: the love of Phaedra, wife of King Theseus, for her husband's illegitimate son Hippolytus. --Robert B. Downs
Two stars: Andromachae (c. 425 B.C.)
Two stars: Hecuba (c. 424 B.C.)
The Suppliants (Hiketides, c. 423 B.C.)
Two stars: Electra (c. 420 B.C.)
Two stars: Heracles (c. 416 B.C.)
Three stars: The Trojan Women (Troiades, 415 B.C.)
Comment: In the few brief moments before the final destruction of the city [Troy] and the sailing of the Greek fleet, Hecuba prepares the mangled body of her grandson Astyanax for burial. Thus the sham glory of war is revealed in all its horrors. --Robert B. Downs
Two stars: Iphigenia Among the Taurians (Iphigenia In Tauris, c. 414 B.C.)
Two stars: Ion (c. 414 B.C.)
Two stars: Helen (Helena, 412 B.C.)
Phoenecian Women (Phoinissai, c. 410 B.C.)
Two stars: Cyclops (c. 408 B.C.)
Orestes (408 B.C.)
Comment: ...Euripides, living in a later and more sophisticated time, had definite ideas about the crime of Orestes and what could have been done to avoid it. Unlike the older poet [Aeschylus], Euripides does not seem to think that the path of doom was inevitable. --Peter Wolff
Four stars: Bacchae (405 B.C.)
Comment: We must not suppress our irrational, passionate side, but if we allow it to take us over, the consequences will be dire. But what, in any concrete situation, will this doubtless wise advice mean, what course of action will it suggest? --Anthony O'Hear
Rhesus (c. 350 B.C.?)
Two stars: Iphigeneia at Aulis (Iphigeneia en Aulidi, 405 B.C.)

ZISI (c. 481–402 B.C.) [Tzu-ssu] Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Chinese philosopher. --Wikipedia
Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung)
Comment: A Confucian text of the late Chou period ... traditionally attributed to Tzu Szu, Confucius' grandson, and also one of the 'Four Books'. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

HERODOTUS (c. 484-425 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Reference: [see Epicurus] | Behistun Inscription Criticism: post
Note: an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern day Bodrum, Turkey) ... was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent, and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative. --Wikipedia
Comment: When Cicero called Herodotus the Father of History, he meant that the Greek was the first to conceive an historical work as an artistic and dramatically unified whole. --J. A. Hammerton
Five stars: Histories (c. 440 B.C.) Criticism: Plutarch review
Comment: took for his theme the invasion of Greece by the Persians between 490 and 479 B.C. --Philip Ward
- (Tom Holland translation, 2013) Criticism: The Economist review
- (Landmark edition, 2009) Criticism: Paul A. Rahe review essay

SOPHOCLES (c. 495 B.C.-406 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive Reference: Theatre History Criticism: post
Note: one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. According to the Suda, a 10th-century encyclopedia, Sophocles wrote 123 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived --Wikipedia
Comment: Among the great dramatic innovations of Sophocles was the introduction of the third actor; the idea that men play a larger part in life (and hence in drama) than do gods; the introduction of stage scenery; and the augmenting of the chorus from twelve players to fifteen. --Philip Ward
Two stars: Ajax (Aias, 445 B.C.)
Four stars: Antigone (441 B.C.)
Comment: Like her father Oedipus, Antigone is possessed of a single-mindedness of purpose and a stubbornness that is both admirable and dangerous to its possessor. --Peter Wolff
Comment: it is not just for modern audiences--predisposed to applaud conscientous objectors, particularly if they are women--that Antigone is in the right. For Sophocles (and his audience) human laws are secondary to divine ones, and Creon, for inferior reasons of state, is placing what is in effect political expediency above religious piety. --Anthony O'Hear
(David Mulroy translation 2013)
Four stars: Oedipus the King (Oidipous Tyrannos, 430 B.C.) Humor: Tom Lehrer title song | Peter Schickele parody
Comment: The Plot in fact should be so framed that, even without seeing the things take place, he who simply hears the account of them shall be filled with horror and pity at the incidents; which is just the effect that the mere recital of the story in Oedipus would have on one. --Aristotle, Poetics, 1453b
Comment: the quintessential tragedy: spare, inexorable, every effort of human beings to avoid the divinely inspired inevitable fruitless, simply making the inevitable more certain, every opening of hope actually yet another step on the road to doom. --Anthony O'Hear
(David Mulroy translation 2011) Bookseller: dramatized audiobook Amazon
One star: Women of Trachis (Trachiniai, 413 B.C.)
One star: Electra (Elektra, 410 B.C.)
Two stars: Philoctetes (Philoktetes, 409 B.C.)
Four stars: Oedipus at Colonus (Oidipous epi Kolono, 401 B.C.)
Comment: In his old age, we see Oedipus as a hero purified by his sufferings, not bitter or broken, but exalted by the ordeals he has endured. --Robert B. Downs

/\ 5th Century B.C.
\/ 6th Century B.C.

ZENGZI (505–436 B.C.)
Note: a Chinese philosopher and student of Confucius. --Wikipedia
Great Learning (Da Xue) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Wikipedia entry
Comment: The basic text of the early Confucian school, later canonized in the 'Four Books'. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

PINDAR (c. 522-442 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive
Note: an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. --Wikipedia
Two stars: Victory Odes (498-446 B.C.)
Comment: These are mainly epinikia, or choral odes in honour of a victor at one of the games festivals, pre-eminently that of Olympia. --Philip Ward

AESCHYLUS (c. 525-456 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Reference: Theatre History Criticism: post
Note: He is often described as the father of tragedy... According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict amongst them, whereas previously characters had interacted only with the chorus. --Wikipedia
The Persians (Persai, 472 B.C)
Comment: part of a tetralogy of seemingly unrelated plays. --Philip Ward
Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thebas, 467 B.C.)
Comment: part of a tetralogy dealing with the royal house of Thebes. --Philip Ward
The Suppliants (Hiketides, 463 B.C.)
Comment: the first play in a tetralogy on the legend of Danaus. --Philip Ward
Two stars: Prometheus Bound (Prometheus Desmotes, c. 460 B.C.)
Comment: probably the central play in a trilogy on the legend of Prometheus. --Philip Ward
Five stars: The Oresteia (458 B.C.) Study: Mitchell-Boyak study guide
     Comment: begins at the point where Agamemnon, unaware of his wife's infidelity, returns victorious from Troy. Citing the death of her daughter Iphigenia as justification, Clytaemnestra traps Agamemnon in his bath. She and Aegisthus kill him. --Peter Wolff
     The Libation Bearers (Choephoroi)
     Comment: ...Agamemnon's son, Orestes, is urged by the god Apollo to revenge his father. With the help of his sister Electra, Orestes kills his mother Clytaemnestra, as well as her lover Aegisthus. --Peter Wolff
     The Eumenides
     Comment: Seeking refuge from the Furies and to be purified of his sin, Orestes comes to the city of Athens and throws himself under the protection of her guardian goddess, Athena. To decide his fate, Athena convenes the first court in the history of Athens, a group of citizens. --Peter Wolff
     Comment: what we call civilization is indeed founded on acts of original criminality. But ... vengeance cannot be the answer, for the very reasons explored with such compelling existential force in 'The Oresteia'. --Anthony O'Hear

SUN TZU (c. 544–496 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher during the Zhou dynasty's Spring and Autumn Period. --Wikipedia
Comment: a realist who recognized that warfare sometimes could not be avoided, and then must be pursued with the utmost vigor to a successful conclusion; his special talent lay in teaching rulers how to deploy their forces to maximum advantage. --John S. Major
The Art of War

Pre-Socratic philosophy (c. 624-347 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Hanover Historical Texts Collection Reference: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | The History Guide | Wesley Wildman course
Note: ...Greek philosophy before Socrates (but includes schools contemporary with Socrates which were not influenced by him). --Wikipedia
One star: The Presocratic Philosophers: a critical history with a selection of texts (1957) by G. S. KIRK and J. E. RAVEN
Comment: To understand Plato and the systems against which he reacted in several of the Socratic dialogues, it is desirable to understand something of the prehistory of philosophy, as it were, from Thales in the early sixth century B.C. to the Atomists in the late fifth century. --Philip Ward
Comment: At the heart of Heraclitus's [(c. 535–c. 475 B.C.)] thought lies the notion that life and the cosmos are in constant flux, yet behind the unending change and decay lies an essential unity. --Michael Dirda

LAOZI (fl. 6th Century B.C.) [Lao Tzu] Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a philosopher of ancient China --Wikipedia
Two stars: Tao Te Ching
Comment: A basic text of Taoism that has become a world classic because of its radical challenge to basic assumptions of both traditional and modern civilization. --A Guide to Oriental Classics
Comment: At the center of the book is a plea for non-action (wu-wei), for permitting things to take their own course. --Michael Dirda

Vedas (c. 1500-c. 500 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature --Wikipedia
Comment: Ritual hymns that are the earliest source for the fundamental concepts of the Hindu tradition. --A Guide to Oriental Classics

/\ 6th Century B.C.
\/ 7th Century B.C.

AESOP (c. 620-560 B. C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Internet Classics Archive
Note: an Ancient Greek fabulist or story teller credited with a number of fables --Wikipedia
Three stars: Fables Criticism: Edward Clayton essay
Comment: Aesop--or someone like him--was the first to collect, retell in concise, easy-to-remember style, and disseminate widely for moral instruction previously existing fables, doubtless adding a number of his own. --Robert B. Downs

SAPPHO (c. 630 to 612-c. 570 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: post
Note: a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. ... The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments. --Wikipedia
One star: Poems
Comment: It may surprise modern readers to learn that the ancient Greeks recognized Sappho as the greatest of their lyric poets. She was even judged worthy to be considered a tenth muse. --Michael Dirda

SOLON (c. 638–558 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page Criticism: Plutarch biography | post
Note: an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. ... His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. --Wikipedia

Homeric Hymns (7th Century B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a collection of thirty-three anonymous Ancient Greek hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are "Homeric" in the sense that they employ the same epic meter—dactylic hexameter—as the Iliad and Odyssey, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect. --Wikipedia

/\ 7th Century B.C.
\/ 8th Century B.C.

HESIOD (after 750 B.C-before 650 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: a Greek poet ... His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. --Wikipedia
One star: Works and Days (Erga kai Hemerai, c. 700 B.C.)
Theogony (Theogonia, c. 700 B.C.)

HOMER (between 750 B.C. and 650 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | University of Adelaide Criticism: Kenneth Rexroth poem | post
Note: the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. --Wikipedia
Comment: Rieu's graceful prose Odyssey is readable, but misses the vigour and pounce of the verse; Graves' Iliad (The Anger of Achilles ...) is tight and sharp; Fitzgerald and Lattimore offer modern sprung verse, alternately excellent and dreadful. Perhaps Chapman and Pope are still the best... .--Raphael and McLeish
Five stars: Iliad Criticism: Algis Valiunas on translations | John Talbot on translations | Edward Luttwak review | Steve Coates review | Ronald Osborn essay [pdf]
Comment: a major epic in dactylic hexameters which narrates forty days' events in the war of the Greeks against Troy. --Philip Ward
Five stars: Odyssey
Comment: 'The Odyssey' is the archetypal tale of homecoming, but that raises the question, taken up by later writers, as to whether the wily, energetic and restless Odysseus could in this world ever really be at home. --Anthony O'Hear

One star: Classic of Poetry (Shijing, c. 1046–771 B.C., c. 700 B.C.) [Shih ching] Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, comprising 305 works dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BC. It is one of the "Five Classics" traditionally said to have been compiled by Confucius --Wikipedia
Comment: The collection is a varied one, ranging from simple songs of courtship to ritual hymns and dynastic legends.--A Guide to Oriental Classics

/\ 8th Century B.C.
/\ 1st Millenium B.C.
\/ 2nd Millenium B.C.

I Ching (c. 1000 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page [see Fu Xi Reference: Wikipedia entry]
Note: Modern scholarship suggests that the earliest layers of the text may date from the end of the 2nd millennium BCE --Wikipedia
Comment: What we call coincidence seems to be the chief concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed. ... Thus it happens that when one throws the three coins, or counts through the forty-nine yarrow stalks, these chance details enter into the picture of the moment of observation and form a part of it--a part that is insignificant to us, yet most meaningful to the Chinese mind. --C. G. Jung
Comment: The legendary Fu Hsi, emperor of China, is supposed to have invented the eight basic trigrams--sets of three lines, broken and unbroken--which form the basis of the I Ching. Any two of the trigrams will combine into sixty-four hexagrams. The original text of the I Ching consisted of accounts of the symbolic meanings of each of the hexagrams. --Martin Seymour-Smith

Two stars: Epic of GILGAMESH (Sha naqba imuru) Etext: The Online Books Page Bookseller: Oratorio by Bohuslav Martinu Criticism: post
Note: The later "Standard Babylonian" version dates from the 13th to the 10th centuries BC --Wikipedia
Comment: account of acceptance of mortality and its ultimate emphasis on the life of achievement and of family values. --Albert Lord

Book of the DEAD (c. 1550 B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page
Note: an ancient Egyptian funerary text, used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BCE) to around 50 BCE. --Wikipedia
Comment: The ancient Egyptian title is more accurately translated as 'The Coming Forth by Day'. Further, no definitive text exists; since the chapters were written over a period of not less than twenty-five hundred years, in different areas of Egypt, and under many rulers, textual variations are wide. --Robert B. Downs

Code of HAMMURABI Etext: The Online Books Page [see Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) Reference: Wikipedia entry]
Note: about 1772 BC. --Wikipedia
Comment: these are the keynotes of the Code of Hammurabi: supreme, centralized power, a stratified society, a uniform administration of justice by the state, individual responsibility, safeguards for property, protection for the weak, encouragement of a unified and efficient family institution. --Robert B. Downs
Comment: 1775 B.C.: Code of Hammurabi radically defines social contract from 'I will kill you' to 'I will kill you if you do one of the following 282 things'. --Jon Stewart, et al.

Note: The oldest surviving recipe in the world is for beer. It can be found on a 3,800-year-old clay tablet, as part of a hymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of brewing. --The Economist

Story of SINUHE (early 20th century B.C.) Etext: The Online Books Page | Jenny Carrington fan site
Note: considered one of the finest works of Ancient Egyptian literature. It is a narrative set in the aftermath of the death of Pharaoh Amenemhat I, founder of the 12th dynasty of Egypt, in the early 20th century BC. --Wikipedia
Comment: Sinuhe was a high administrative official who fled from the service of Queen Nofru after an unsuccessful palace revolt, wandered across the desert, and sought refuge with a Syrian chiefain whose daughter he married. Always nostalgic for Egypt, Sinuhe finally travelled home and established himself once more. --Philip Ward

/\ 2nd Millenium B.C.

300 B.C.-A.D. 300 /\

Revised December 19, 2013.