HONR 218C Western Intellectual Heritage: The Hero and Society

About the Class Texts

Most of the books we will read and discuss in this course are translations of works written in cultures deeply and pervasively different than our own. For this reason, I've selected editions of these texts that contain accurate and readable English versions of these Greek or Latin or Italian works along with substantial introductions and notes. I've also tried to find relatively inexpensive editions, but since most of the costs involved in producing an edition of a book like Homer's Iliad arise in translation and editing -- the text, after all, is in the public domain -- an accurate current translation with a good introduction and notes will usually cost more than an older edition.

Most of you will either have a Bible or have access to one. There are many acceptable translations, so feel free to use any translation you have. (Avoid paraphrases like The Living Bible, however.) And with an author like Shakespeare, any edition of Henry V will do. With Milton, our other modern English author, the case is a bit different. Milton's poetry is notoriously difficult, larded with classical, theological, and political allusions. Unfortunately, the edition of Samson Agonistes we used to use, which contained a very useful introduction and copious notes by an eminent Milton scholar, is out of print. The edition I've ordered to replace it has a few notes, and these may be helpful to you as you read Milton's poem. But if you would prefer to go it on your own, the text is online as a small PDF file. Archive.org recently made available a 1925 edition of the poem, with extensive introduction and notes; that text is available here.

Because our texts are all "classics," they are available online for free. The catch is that these online versions are in most cases old translations which contain little supplementary material. They are largely public domain materials that have been marked up and put on the internet at minimal expense, and here as always you get what you pay for. But you may wish to look at them; see the online texts list just below.

The bottom line is this. I prefer that you use the editions that I've selected. Not just because they are accurate and well-annotated. If we are using the same editions it makes it easier to locate passages in discussion, because everyone will literally be on the same page. This is especially important when we're reading Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristophanes, and Virgil. But if you cannot buy these editions, try to find them in the Maryland library.

Online versions of class texts

As I mentioned above, most of our texts are available on the internet. Before you return your textbooks to the bookstore, however, you should know that most online versions of texts are older editions and translations, and they don't have critical notes, editorial introductions, and the like.

Homer Iliad (Translated by Samuel Butler)
Odyssey (Translated by Samuel Butler)
Aristophanes Clouds (Translated by Jeffrey Henderson)
Clouds (local plain text version)
Plato Euthyphro
Sophocles Antigone
Oedipus the King
Virgil Aeneid (Translated by John Dryden)
Aeneid (Translated by Theodore C. Williams)
The Bible Judges (21st century King James version)
1 Samuel (21st century King James version)
2 Samuel (21st century King James version)
Anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Modern English)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Middle English)
Milton Samson Agonistes (Dartmouth University's Milton Reading Room)
Milton's Samson Agonistes. Edited, with notes by A.W. Verity. Cambridge University Press, 1925. (11 Mb PDF)
Shakespeare King Henry V
Machiavelli The Prince

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