EUH 1000

 

Great Works of Roman Literature

 

 

 2nd 5th Century          CLASSICAL ROMAN PERIOD

------------author-----------------------------------work----------place / language

 Julius Caesar

1st Century B.C.

Commentaries on the Gallic Wars

A great story is attached to this book, it appeared as episodes in Rome, as Caesar was with his legions in Gaul (France) fighting with the local Celts (who later moved to Britannia). His victories and the action depicted in this book electrified the Roman public and they cheered him as a great hero- much to the nervousness of the Senate which had the right to be leery, for Julius Caesar, hero of these Commentaries, entered Rome with his Legions and became the first Emperor against the will of the Senate, but with that of the people, partly because he was so popular!

Italy

Latin

 Lucretius

1st Century B.C.

On the Nature of Things

Way ahead of its time, On the Nature of Things tells us that nature is made up of 'uncuttable pieces' called atoms. As we know, Lucretius was correct, 2,100 years ago! The amazing beginning is his appeal to Venus for help in writing what he knew would be an important work. He is a little arrogant in the book but it serves to remind us of Greco-Roman master morality. A look at his face here to the left clues us in that Lucretius was a severe and asture, but just, man.

Italy

Latin

 Livius

1st Century B.C.

The War with Hannibal

The most dramatic conflict in Roman history, the 2nd Punic War against Carthage is the focus of this exciting depiction of the whole conflict by Livy. All of the fantastic and true situations are presented: the elephants and exotic beast used by Hannibal against Scipio, the fear in Rome during the siege and the shocking Battle of Zama outside of Carthage (modern Tunisia, North Africa), where the decisive battle of Scipio vs. Hannibal takes place.

Italy

Latin

 

 B.C.-------------- BEFORE CHRIST ---------------B.C.


A.D.---- ANNO DOMINI (YEAR OF THE LORD) ----A.D.

 

 Ovid

1st Century

Metamorphoses

Famed poet of the Roman world, this book (written in 1 AD) is the source of most of our knowledge on Roman mythology, because Ovid actually states, "with the help of the gods (hopefully), I will discribe the changes in the world from the beginning to the present times." Quite a task! Along the way, we are treated to humor, love and fun. The stories of individual gods and famous humans interacting and how that relationship had evolved the 'modern Roman' are entertaining.

Italy

Latin

 Virgil

1st Century

The Aeneid

Friend of Emperor Augustus, Virgil continues the tradition of Homer in writing the epic of all Roman literature. Here we find teaching of Roman patriotism, loyalty and citizenship ingrained in this legendary story of the beginnings of the City of Rome itself. The exciting story goes back to the Trojan War where, under the eyes of the conspiring Greco-Roman gods, refugees from Troy after the battle make their way to Italy and found the city, as well as have great adventures.

Italy

Latin

 Cicero

1st Century

On the Good Life

The hero of people who love high culture who are interested in self-discovery, On the Good Life figures out the best course of action, values and cultural highpoints that lead one to a good life. The dignity of the citizen and his relationship to the state is discussed, the value of friendship and what it is, how to give a good speech and the 'Dream of Scipio' are some of the varied and powerful topics tackled by Cicero, probably the best pure writer of the Roman world.

Italy

Latin

Christian Sacred Text

1st Century

The New Testament of the Holy Bible

The life story and teachings of Jesus Christ, and the foundation of the Christian religion. The Testament begins with the birth of Christ in the manger in Bethlehem, his growing up in Nazareth and all of his teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount at Jerusalem, and following with him as he walked in Galilee. The passion and the crucifiction are revealed as well as the raising of Jesus from the dead and the transfiguration. Finally in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, the prophecy for the return of Jesus and the Judgement Day is fortold.

Levant

Greek

Tacitus

1st Century

The Annals

The Annals contain the history of Rome since the founding. Written after the reign of Nero, the book is a damning account of the imperial mindset, and the dangers of absolutist rule by emperors who are not accountable, as the Senators once were, or at least not to the same degree, to the people. Its surprising how well versed in classical liberalism Tacitus was, he points out the correlation between individual liberty (of thought especially) and moral restraints self imposed by good citizens of a just government.

Rome

Latin

Plutarch

2nd Century

The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

An outstanding history of the entire Classical Period told through the biographies of all the famous personages from Greece and Rome, Plutarch's 'Lives' reinvigorated the study of Greek and the classics during the Renaissance period, when original copies were brought to Italy from Constantinople in 1453 upon the Muslim conquest of that city. It became the handbook for the Renaissance gentleman's knowledge of the classics, and all of the American founding fathers had it as a textbook in school.

Greece

Greek

Galen

2nd Century

On the Natural Faculties

This is the famous medical book from old times, as it contains a detailed description and analysis of all parts of the body. Essentially, it is the masterpiece work of human anatomy. Heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, arteries, reproductive systems and all of the other features of the human machine are taken into account in this, another of those long running textbooks that helped re-awaken medical science during the Renaissance in Italy.

Asia Minor

Latin

Juvenal

1st Century

The Sixteen Satires

"He simply hangs a series of mortal portraits on the wall and forces us to look at them!" Juvenal lashes out at some of the things about Roman society that we still don't like today- like government corruption and obsession with base things, lowly things, that was such an issue in imperial Rome- like blindly accepting things like lifelong servitude and gladiatorial combat as 'just fine.' Jeuvenal had no trouble picking apart the Roman psyche and laying it out for us to see, too.

Italy

Latin

Emperor Marcus Aurelius

2nd Century

Meditations

When an emperor speaks, it does well to listen. Marcus Aurelius presided to 180 AD (you may remember him as the old emperor who died at the beginning of 'Gladiator'). History tells us that he was the most learned man to ascend to the Roman emperorship, and the 'Meditations' are a sublime and outstanding foray into his thoughts. Today, some psychologists prescribe it as a kind of 'self-help' book because it lays out philosophy and life very well. It helps people 'find themselves' as a book of self-reflection of a great man, who overcame obstacles and dealt with other people. A study of human behavior features as one of the main components of this still famous book.

Italy

Latin

 Traditional Buddhist

The Buddhist Scriptures

3rd Century

There are many schools of Buddhism but certain universal concepts unite all of them. The Buddhist Scriptures is the source of our knowledge of Buddhist values- based on the teachings of Gautama the Buddha, who lived in the 500s B.C. but never wrote anything down. Gautama renounced his wealth and palace life in exchange for complete freedom- setting himself and many later followers of Buddhism onto a lifelong path of meditation... to Nirvana. Here we find the Four Noble Truths to help and embrace in that pursuit.

India

Sanskrit

Saint Augustine

5th Century

City of God

One of the capstone works of Christian philosophy and idealism, this book comforted the hearts of Romans during the Fall of the Empire. It reminded people amongst the chaos that even though things seemed bad in their 'earthly city,' there was the still yet the more important 'heavenly city: the City of God. "That glory which Rome failed to attain will only be realized in the City of God, that heavenly Jerusalem forseen in the Revelation." This towering work shows the power, the richness and the glory of early Christian civilized culture. It also tells the story of the early church and human history, taken in relation to all eternity!

Italy

Latin

Traditional Jewish

5th Century

The Talmud

Like the Old Testament and The Odyssey, the Talmud was compiled over the course of many centuries. The Talmud encompasses and legislates the essence of Judaism. It is almost impossible for regular people to read the whole thing (its as big as an encyclopedia, and is full of complex spiritual and religious law and text!)--for it was made by Jewish rabbis during the centuries after the dispersion of the Jews from Israel to Mesopotamia, North Africa, Spain and other places in Europe. In its most basic, the Talmud is the saving grace of the Jews because in diaspora, it was difficult to keep the small scattered groups of Jews 'Jewish' at all, so the Talmud teaches people, in fact, their identity as children of Abraham.

Mesopotamia

Hebrew

 

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