Top 10 Greek Classics Everyone Should Read

After making a list about classic books which may change your life, I decided to find out the best of the best works from ancient Greece. They range from the classic Greek texts to the epic poems.

If you enjoyed the Greek Classics, head here for books which make you smarter.

10

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Oedipus the King was known in Latin as Oedipus Rex, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BC. It is a story of Oedipus, who becomes the king of Thebes and was destined from birth to murder his father and marry his mother. The play is an example of a classic tragedy, and is considered one of the best over the centuries. It also inspired Freud to come up with the Oedipus Complex.

Link to the book.

9

Discourses of Epictetus

They are extracts of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus from 108 AD. It is a seminal work of Stoicism and a must read if you are interested in the topic. This and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism is basically about being indifferent to your surroundings and became a big deal in Greece as the states became more and more weakened (during the rise of the Roman empire). This would give you an idea on how the Greek mindset became during their last days of prominence.

Link to the book.

8

The Frogs by Aristophanes

This a comedy written by Aristophanes. It was performed at  one of the Festivals of Dionysus in Athens, in 405 BC, and received first place. It is a story of the god Dionysus, who, despairing of the state of Athens’ tragedians, travels to the underworld to bring the playwright Euripides back from the dead. Its pretty interesting and still funny today. If you want to see how ancient Greek comedy sounded like, this is the place to start.

Link to the book.

7

Works and Days by Hesiod

This is a didactic poem of around 800 lines written by the poet Hesiod in around 700 BCE. Its a farmer’s almanac in which Hesiod instructs his brother in the agricultural arts. He also gives extensive moral advice on how to live your life. It is a book which explains two major stories about the human condition: the story of Prometheus and Pandora, and the so-called Myth of Five Ages.

Link to the book.

6

Politics by Aristotle

This is a work of political philosophy; the title literally means “the things concerning the polis.” Every law major should have this book on his reading list, Aristotle discusses the boundaries of citizenship, the classification of the constitution, political theory, types of democracies, and even how education should conducted in the state. In this book he defends democracies as a good form of government, when compared to others, he said that tyrannies were unstable.

Link to the book.

5

Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius

111

This is the only surviving Hellenistic epic, the Argonautica which tells the legend of Jason and the Argonauts on their mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece; and Jason’s relationship with Medea and how he betrays her (spoiler alert?). It later gave Virgil a model for his Roman epic, the Aeneid. The book is really an adventure and still holds well today, read it, and you will realize why Jason was a piece of work.

Link to the book.

4

The Republic by Plato

One of Plato’s most famous works, this is a Socratic dialogue discussing the meaning of justice, different forms of government and how the perfect city-state should look like. The book also contains Plato’s famous allegory of the cave, which I will explain another day. If you want to know what ancient Greece’s idea of a utopia was, read this book.

Link to the book.

3

Histories by Herodotus

Written around the 450’s BC, the book is a massive record of all the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and wars happening in the known world at the time. It tells the story of the rise of the Persian Empire and the Greco-Persian wars. Herodotus makes the war sound like one between the forces of slavery (the Persians), and freedom (the confederacy of Greek city-states) on the other, sounds really familiar. If you really want to understand the time period, this is the book to read, just have a lot of free time ready, because its a long read. If you are just interested about the Peloponnesian war, then the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides would be a more precise read.

Link to the book (volume 1 of 2).

2

Cyropaedia by Xenophon

This is the biography of Cyrus the Great, written by the gentleman-soldier Xenophon in the early 4th century BC. Its part biography and part written as an advice book for the ruler, it started the genre called “the mirror of princes”, which is basically a ‘how to’ book on being a king. The book is highly readable and its always good to read the book which later on inspired the infamous “The prince”. Xenophon himself was in the army called the “Ten Thousand”, which were hired by Cyrus the Younger, and had an interesting story of their own. If you want to know more about the “Ten Thousand”, read his other book, Anabasis (which is also a worth a read).

Link to the book.

1

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer

They were written around the 8th century BC, but we are still not sure who Homer was. Many of you were probably expecting this to take the top position and I tried finding a better Greek classic but couldn’t, these two books really do deserve the top position. If you read only two books from ancient Greece, then it has to be these two. Now I listed them both together because they are the continuation of one epic story, and reading only one is missing out on the great adventure the other has. To go over it briefly, Iliad is the story of the Trojan war, with its rage fueled hero Achilles. Odyssey is the story of the 10 year long return journey of Odysseus after the end of the aforementioned war. If you are more interested in reading about Achilles, read our greatest mythical heroes list.

Here are the links to the Iliad and the Odyssey.

MTemuri

MTemuri

Writer/Beautiful Human Being at Listogre.com
Life is like the Shawshank Redemption, but with more tunneling through shit and no freaking redemption.

Also I love historical things, creepy stuff, and videogames.
MTemuri

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail