Ancient Greece provided many of the foundational ideas of human civilisation, in art, philosophy and politics. Here you can find interviews exploring its culture, language and enduring influence.
Professor Christopher Pelling chooses his best books on Ancient Greece, and classicist Paul McMullen chooses his best books on learning Ancient Greek. On Greek philosophy, Edith Hall of King’s College London chooses her best books on Aristotle; Professor M M McCabe looks at Socrates; and Professor James Warren considers the best books on the Epicureans. Children’s author Lucy Coates delves into Greek myths and Johanna Hanink of Brown University chooses her best books on Thucydides. Emily Wilson, translator of the Odyssey, chooses her best books on that poem.
A number of our interviews trace the continuing influence of Ancient Greece. Daniel Mendelsohn—an author, critic and translator—gives us his best books on updating the classics, while legendary Cambridge classicist Mary Beard looks at ancient history in modern life. Going straight to the local source, we have the Greek novelist Christos Chomenidis discussing the best books on the real Greece, while Bettany Hughes, the historian, author and broadcaster, looks at divine women. If you want a contemporary introduction to Greek mythology, Stephen Fry’s Mythos: A retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece has proved very popular.
The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
by Ian Scott-Kilvert & Plutarch
The Greek Alexander Romance
by Richard Stoneman
by Cornelius Nepos & Nicholas Horsfall
by Harold Mattingly, James Rives & Tacitus
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers
Diogenes Laertius (ed. James Miller, trans. Pamela Mensch)
Whatever modern leadership books may say about what’s required to be a good leader, for the ancients there was only one vital requirement: studying philosophy. Jeffrey Beneker, Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, talks us through what ancient biographies reveal about how to be a leader.
Ancient Greece’s legacy can be seen all around us, including in our political system — but many of us don’t know that much about it. Fortunately, we have someone who has devoted his life to studying this remote time and place to give us a reading list. Chris Pelling, Emeritus Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, recommends his top five books on Ancient Greece.
Aristotle, says Edith Hall, is “quite simply the most important intellectual who ever lived.” Here the author and classicist selects five key Aristotle books to further your understanding of the great philosopher’s life and work.
Interested in philosophy? Drama? History? Within a year you too could be reading seminal texts in their original language. Academic Paul McMullen recommends the best books for learning ancient Greek.
The classical Greek philosopher is credited with laying the foundation of Western philosophy – without ever having written a word. Here, the eminent scholar M M McCabe recommends the best books to read to understand Socrates and engage with the eternal question: How best to live?
Lucy Coats, author of one of the best books Greek myth books for children, recommends her own favourites. There’s one for children, one for teenagers, one for scholars, one to read out loud and one that’s very definitely adult in content…
Greek myths were themselves elastic so there is no reason the classics of Roman and Greek literature shouldn’t be updated, says classicist Daniel Mendelsohn. He talks us through some of his favourites.