Plato's Republic is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. Presented in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and three different interlocutors, it is an inquiry into the notion of a perfect community and the ideal individual within it. During the conversation other questions are raised: what is goodness; what is reality; what is knowledge; what is the purpose of education? With remarkable lucidity and deft use of allegory, Plato arrives at a depiction of a state bound by harmony and ruled by 'philosopher kings'.
Translated by DESMOND LEE with an Introduction by MELISSA LANE
Ovid's sensuous and witty poem begins with the creation of the world and brings together a dazzling array of mythological tales, ingeniously linked by the idea of transformation - often as a result of love or lust - where men and women find themselves magically changed into extraordinary new beings. Including the well-known stories of Daedalus and Icarus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Pygmalion, Perseus and Andromeda, and the fall of Troy, the Metamorphoses has influenced writers and artists from Shakespeare and Chaucer to Picasso and Ted Hughes. This translation by David Raeburn is in hexameter verse, which brilliantly captures the energy and spontaneity of the original.
Translated by DAVID RAEBURN with an Introduction by DENIS FEENEY
Collected by an unidentified Icelander, probably during the twelfth or thirteenth century, The Poetic Edda was rediscovered in Iceland in the seventeenth century by Danish scholars. Even then its value as poetry, as a source of historical information, and as a collection of entertaining stories was recognized. This meticulous translation succeeds in reproducing the verse patterns, the rhythm, the mood, and the dignity of the original in a revision that Scandinavian Studies says "may well grace anyone's bookshelf."
'Nothing can harm a good man either in life or after death'
The trial and condemnation of Socrates on charges of heresy and corrupting young minds is a defining moment in the history of classical Athens. In tracing these events through four dialogues, Plato also developed his own philosophy of a life guided by self-responsibility. Euthyphro finds Socrates outside the court-house, debating the nature of piety, while the Apology is his robust rebuttal of the charges against him. In the Crito, awaiting execution in prison, Socrates counters the arguments of friends urging him to escape. Finally, in the Phaedo, he is shown calmly confident in the face of death.
Translated by HUGH TREDENNICK and HAROLD TARRANT with an Introduction and notes by HAROLD TARRANT
'I must die. But must I die bawling?'
Epictetus, a Greek Stoic and freed slave, ran a thriving philosophy school in Nicopolis in the early second century AD. His animated discussions were celebrated for their rhetorical wizardry and were written down by Arrian, his most famous pupil. The Discourses argue that happiness lies in learning to perceive exactly what is in our power to change and what is not, and in embracing our fate to live in harmony with god and nature. In this personal, practical guide to the ethics of Stoicism and moral self-improvement, Epictetus tackles questions of freedom and imprisonment, illness and fear, family, friendship and love.
Translated and Edited with an Introduction by Robert Dobbin
The long life-and-death struggle between Athens and Sparta plunged the ancient Greek world into decades of war. Thucydides was an Athenian and achieved the rank of general in the earlier stages of the war, and in this detailed, first-hand contemporary account he writes as both a soldier and a historian. He applies a passion for accuracy and a contempt for myth and romance in compiling a factual record of a ruinous conflict that would eventually destroy the Athenian empire.
Translated by Rex Warner with an introduction and notes by M. I. Finley
Livy dedicated most of his life to writing some 142 volumes of history, the first five of which comprise The Early History of Rome. With stylistic brilliance, he chronicles nearly 400 years from the founding of Rome to the Gallic invasion in 386 BC, an era that witnessed the establishment of the Republic, unrest and brutal conflict. Bringing compelling characters to life, and re-presenting familiar tales - including the tragedy of Coriolanus and the story of Romulus and Remus - The Early History is a truly epic work, and a passionate warning that a nation should learn from its history.
Translated by Aubrey DE Sélincourt with an Introduction by R. M. Ogilvie and a Preface by S. P. Oakley
After a century of civil strife in Rome and Italy, Virgil wrote the Aeneid to honour the emperor Augustus by praising his legendary ancestor Aeneas. As a patriotic epic imitating Homer, the Aeneid also set out to provide Rome with a literature equal to that of Greece. It tells of Aeneas, survivor of the sack of Troy, and of his seven-year journey: to Carthage, where he falls tragically in love with Queen Dido; then to the underworld,; and finally to Italy, where he founds Rome. It is a story of defeat and exile, of love and war, hailed by Tennyson as 'the stateliest measure ever moulded by the lips of man'.
Translated with an Introduction by DAVID WEST
One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the darkest episode in the Trojan War. At its centre is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, who refuses to fight after being humiliated by his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan Hector kills Achilles' close friend Patroclus, he storms back into battle to take revenge - knowing this will ensure his own early death. E. V. Rieu's acclaimed translation of The Iliad was one of the first titles published in Penguin Classics, and now has classic status itself.
Originally translated by E. V. RIEU
Revised and updated by PETER JONES with D. C. H. RIEU
Edited with an Introduction and notes by PETER JONES
'One of the best prose translations of Euripides I have seen' Robert Fagles
This selection of plays shows Euripides transforming the titanic figures of Greek myths into recognizable, fallible human beings. Medea, in which a spurned woman takes revenge upon her lover by killing her children, is one of the most shocking of all the Greek tragedies. Medea is a towering figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. Alcestis is based on a magical myth in which Death is overcome, and The Children of Heracles examines conflict between might and right, while Hippolytus deals with self-destructive integrity.
Translated by JOHN DAVIE
The legends surrounding the house of Thebes inspired Sophocles to create this powerful trilogy about humanity's struggle against fate. King Oedipus is the devastating portrayal of a ruler who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he does not realize he has committed and then inflicts a brutal punishment upon himself. Oedipus at Colonus provides a fitting conclusion to the life of the aged and blinded king, while Antigone depicts the fall of the next generation, through the conflict between a young woman ruled by her conscience and a king too confident of his own authority.
Translated with an Introduction by E. F. WATLING
In the surviving books of his Histories the barrister-historian Tacitus, writing some thirty years after the events he describes, gives us a detailed account based on excellent authorities. In the 'long but single year' of revolution four emperors emerge in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian - who established the Flavian dynasty.
Rhiannon Ash stays true to the spirit of Wellesley's prose whilst making the translation more accessible to modern readers.
'We women have the salvation of Greece in our hands'
Writing at a time of political and social crisis in Athens, the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes was an eloquent, yet bawdy, challenger to the demagogue and the sophist. In Lysistrata and The Acharnians, two pleas for an end to the long war between Athens and Sparta, a band of women on a sex strike and a lone peasant respectively defeat the political establishment. The darker comedy of The Clouds satirizes Athenian philosophers, Socrates in particular, and reflects the uncertainties of a generation in which all traditional religious and ethical beliefs were being challenged.
Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Alan H. Sommerstein