Literature of the Ancient World

Course Description


Full-year course. A survey of writing from the earliest written stories (with attention to their origins as oral tales) through the late classical/early medieval masterworks. Students will consider the meaning of nostoi (homecoming) to Odysseus; the duties of someone torn between human and divine law as in Sophocles’ Antigone; and mankind’s relationship to the gods (as discussed in poetry, drama, and the Bible). When taken in combination with our Ancient History course, this provides the integrated Great Books and History coverage recommended in The Well-Trained Mind. 

Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)

Required texts:

  • The Holy Bible
    • New American Standard Thinline Bible, Zondervan. ISBN 9780310917250
  • Gilgamesh: A New English Version, trans. Stephen Mitchell
    • Atria Books, 2006 paperback reprint. ISBN 9780743261692 – OR –
    • Free Press, 2004 hardback. ISBN 9780743261647
  • Homer, The Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles
    • Penguin Classics, 1998 paperback. ISBN 9780140275360      
  • Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson
    • Norton, 2017 hardback. ISBN 9780393089059
  • Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fagles
    • Penguin Classics, 2008 paperback reprint. ISBN 9780143105138
  • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, trans. Robert Fagles, ed. W. B. Stanford
    • The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides, Penguin Classics, 1984 paperback reprint. ISBN 9780140443332
  • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, trans. H. D. F. Kitto, ed. Edith Hall
    • Sophocles: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Electra,  Oxford University Press, 2009 paperback reissue. ISBN 9780199537174
  • Euripides, Medea, trans. James Morwood, ed. Edith Hall
    • Euripides: Medea and Other Plays, Oxford University Press, 2009 paperback reissue. ISBN 9780199537969
  • Aristophanes, The Birds, trans. Stephen Halliwell
    • Aristophanes: Birds and Other Plays, Oxford University Press, 2009 paperback reissue. ISBN 9780199555673
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Charles Martin
    • Metamorphoses: A New Translation, Norton, 2005 paperback reprint. ISBN 9780393326420

Class meets once per week for 50-55 minutes.

Class cap: 20 students.

Designed for grades 9-12.

Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded 1 Language Arts credit upon completion of this course.

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