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Classics in Translation, Volume I

Greek Literature

Edited by Paul L. MacKendrick and Herbert M. Howe

Publication Year: 1959

Here, translated into modern idiom, are many works of the authors whose ideas have constituted the mainstream of classical thought. This volume of new translations was born of necessity, to answer the needs of a course in Greek and Roman culture offered by the Department of Integrated Liberal Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Since its original publication in 1952, Classics in Translation has been adopted by many different academic institutions to fill similar needs of their undergraduate students. This new printing is further evidence of this collection’s general acceptance by teachers, students, and the reviewing critics.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-11


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pp. xi-xiv

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Greek Culture: An Essay

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pp. 3-12

Many threads contribute to form the complex pattern of a culture—geographical, racial, economic, political, scientific, artistic, religious, and philosophical, and, certainly, temporal circumstances. Some acquaintance with this total Greek pattern is essential if we are to understand the values expressed in Greek literature. ...

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The Iliad of Homer

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pp. 13-48

Of the two poems ascribed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Iliad was, to its first audiences and for generations after, their favorite poem. To a more recent, more romantic, and less classical age the Odyssey, which is easier to grasp on a quick reading, has proved more attractive. ...

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The Odyssey of Homer

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pp. 49-80

The best cue to give a reader who wants to appreciate the special quality of the Odyssey is the obvious one: the Odyssey comes after the Iliad. It is the story of "a man who wandered far and wide after he had destroyed the sacred city of Troy." In the Iliad we are actively engaged in a cruel and destructive war; ...

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The Homeric Hymn to Hermes

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pp. 81-87

The seventh and sixth centuries B.C. saw the composition of the Homeric Hymns—poems in the meter and language of Homer dealing with episodes in the careers of the Olympian gods. The Homeric Hymn to Hermes (written in the sixth century) is a fine example of this mythological poetry in the archaic Greek style. ...

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Selections from Hesiod's Words and Days

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pp. 88-91

The writings of the didactic poet Hesiod offer the best record of the social and economic changes which were taking place during the archaic period. The father of Hesiod had migrated from Aeolia to the small town of Ascra in Boeotia, and had acquired a farm. ...

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Lyric Poetry

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pp. 92-105

To the Greeks the word lyric designated only that poetry which was sung to the accompaniment of the lyre; they had no general term to designate that vast body of poetry which was neither epic nor dramatic. We use the word lyric to fill this deficiency, meaning by it to describe all personal utterance which, by and large, ...

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The Pre-Socratic Philosophers

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pp. 106-110

The writings of the philosophers who lived before the end of the fifth century B.C. have almost all perished, so that we are faced with the problem of reconstructing the origins of Greek philosophy from such fragments as have been preserved and from references by later writers. ...

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Selections from Herodotus' The Histories

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pp. 111-130

Herodotus, the "Father of History" and chronicler of the first great conflict between East and West, was born in the Dorian city of Halicarnassus, in southwest Asia Minor, about 484, and died either in Athens or in south Italy about 428 B.C. His busy and adventurous life embraced the period in which Athens, having proved herself the savior of Greece in the Persian War, ...

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The Agamemnon of Aeschylus

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pp. 131-154

Aeschylus (b. 525 B.C.), the first great writer of tragedy in our western world, was criticized in his own time for the limited action in his plays and the violence and obscurity of the language. The criticism, as far as it went, was just. It is not in neatly contrived plots or fluid poetic expression that his greatness lies, ...

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The Antigone of Sophocles

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pp. 155-173

In both personality and achievement Sophocles (ca. 496-406 B.C.) was a true son of the Golden Age in Athens. Born in a prosperous family, possessed of physical beauty, liberally educated, an accomplished musician, actor, and conversationalist, and a consistent winner of dramatic prizes, he was also successful in public life, ...

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The Medea of Euripides

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pp. 174-191

Euripides (ca. 480-406 B.C.) during his long life witnessed the pioneer development of democratic Athens, the triumphs of the established empire, and the disastrous effects of the war, which led to growing disillusionment in Athens and ultimate defeat two years after his death. ...

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The Frogs of Aristophanes

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pp. 192-222

The comedies of Aristophanes are not the least of the great cultural monuments which Athens in the fifth century B.C. created and bequeathed to posterity. On the one hand they exhibit a creative originality, a technical excellence and a universal humor that have scarcely been equaled in the realm of comic drama; ...

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The Constitution of Athens by the "Old Oligarch"

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pp. 223-230

Just as it would not be realistic to judge American democracy as a whole by speeches about malice toward none and charity for all, so we must beware of concluding from the idealism of the Funeral Oration of Pericles that all his hearers shared his favorable view of government by the people. ...

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Selections from Thucydides' History

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pp. 231-263

Everybody knows Macaulay's judgment that Thucydides was the greatest historian who ever lived. Not so many people know Thucydides; in fact nowadays he is probably more admired than read. Or if he is read, he is read either as history, in which case he is the business of historians, or as literature, ...

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The Attic Orators

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pp. 264-304

The Greeks appear to have had an innate love of the spoken word. Homer's poems abound in speeches. We learn that Phoenix was commissioned to teach Achilles to be "both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds." Nestor is proclaimed as the "clear-voiced speaker from Pylos, from whose tongue there flowed speech sweeter than honey." ...

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The Greek Scientists

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pp. 305-315

By the term"science" we today usually understand the study of nature in accordance with certain well-understood principles and logical procedures. We are so used to them that we take them for granted; but their discovery was a long and slow process, and their combination into the methods of investigation to which we are accustomed ...

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Selections from Plato

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pp. 316-350

The dialogues of Plato hold a central position in the development of philosophical thought. Before his time there had been in Greece detached moral sayings of "wise men," and speculations about the underlying unity of the physical world; there had been groups of religious men who held that the soul is immortal ...

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Selections from Aristotle

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pp. 351-393

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was a native of Stagira, in Macedonia, where his father was a friend and court physician to King Amyntas II. In 367, at the age of seventeen, he traveled to Athens to study under Plato, and he remained a member of the Academy for the next twenty years—until the death of Plato in 347. ...

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Selections from Epicurus

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pp. 394-398

Epicurus, the most important of the ancient atomists, was born on the island of Samos in 341. After studying the philosophies of several schools, including the atomism of Democritus, he set up his own in Athens soon after 307, and taught there until his death in 270. ...

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Plutarch's Life of Tiberius Gracchus

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pp. 399-406

The practice of writing accounts of the lives of famous men goes back at least as far as Xenophon's biographies of Socrates and Agesilaus in the early part of the fourth century B.C., and there are many later examples of the form; but the most famous ancient biographies are surely the Parallel Lives of Plutarch. ...

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Selections from Epictetus

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pp. 407-411

When autocratiac rule put an end to the political initiative and responsibility which the individual citizen had enjoyed in both democratic Greece and Republican Rome, one philosophy served more adequately than any other to offer consolation: Stoicism, with its doctrine that man could still control all that essentially matters, ...

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Selections from Lucian

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pp. 412-426

Lucian, a Syrian, was born in Samosata (now Samsat), a small town on the upper Euphrates, about A.D. 120, and died toward the end of that century. In youth, tiring of provincial life, he perfected his Greek and became a professional rhetorician. As such he made a living for a number of years, ...


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pp. 442-446

Back Cover

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p. 447-447

E-ISBN-13: 9780299808938
E-ISBN-10: 0299808939
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299808952
Print-ISBN-10: 0299808955

Page Count: 445
Illustrations: 4 maps
Publication Year: 1959