On the Shortness of Life

On the Shortness of Life

Seneca

Originally written around 49 AD for his father-in-law Paulinus, Seneca here brings up many Stoic principles on the nature of time, namely that people waste much of it in meaningless pursuits. According to Seneca, nature gives people enough time to do what is really important and it is up to the individual to allot it properly.

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The Persians

The Persians

Aeschylus

The Persians is the second and only surviving part of a now otherwise lost trilogy that won the first prize at the dramatic competitions in Athens’ City Dionysia festival in 472 BCE. It takes place in Susa, which at the time was one of the capitals of the Persian Empire, and opens with a chorus of old men, who are soon joined by the Queen Mother, Atossa, as they await news of her son King Xerxes’ expedition against the Greeks.

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Of the Nature of Things

Of the Nature of Things

Lucretius

De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) is a first-century BC didactic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy to a Roman audience. The poem, written in some 7,400 dactylic hexameters, is divided into six untitled books, and explores Epicurean physics through richly poetic language and metaphors.

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On Benefits

On Benefits

Seneca

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher (c. 4 BC – AD 65), and tutor to the emperor Nero. This book, On Benefits, forms part of a series of moral essays written by Seneca. Comprised of seven books plus a Preface by the translator Aubrey Stewart.

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On Youth And Old Age, On Life And Death, On Breathing

On Youth And Old Age, On Life And Death, On Breathing

Aristotle

One of the short treatises that make up Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia. In comparison to the first five treatises of the Parva Naturalia, this one (and On Length and Shortness of Life), while still dealing with natural phenomena involving the body and the soul, are “definitely biological rather than psychological.” The title On Youth And Old Age, On Life And Death, On Breathing, given in the Medieval manuscripts…

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The Iliad

The Iliad of Homer

Homer

This is Samuel Butler’s translation of the core story of the Trojan War. The tale of the fateful war between the Achaeans and the city of Troy is one of the masterpieces of world literature.

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Metaphysics

Metaphysics

Aristotle

Metaphysics is one of the principal works of Aristotle and the first major work of the branch of philosophy with the same name. It is considered to be one of the greatest philosophical works and its influence on the Greeks, the Muslim philosophers, the scholastic philosophers and even writers such as Dante, was immense. It is essentially a reconciliation of Plato’s theory of Forms that…

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Heracles

Heracles

Euripides

Heracles is an Athenian tragedy by Euripides that was first performed c. 416 BCE. While Heracles is in the underworld obtaining Cerberus for one of his labours, his father Amphitryon, wife Megara, and children are sentenced to death in Thebes by Lycus. Heracles arrives in time to save them, though the goddesses Iris and Madness (personified) cause him to kill his wife and children in a frenzy.

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The Cyclops

The Cyclops

Euripides

The Cyclops is an Ancient Greek satyr play by Euripides, the only complete satyr play that has survived. It is a comical burlesque-like play on a story that occurs in book nine of Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus has lost his way on the voyage home from the Trojan War. He and his hungry crew make a stop in Sicily at Mount Aetna, which is inhabited by Cyclopes. They come upon the Satyrs and their father Silenus…

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The History of Animals

The History of Animals

Aristotle

The History of Animals is one of the major texts on biology by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, written in the fourth century BC. Seen as a pioneering work of zoology, Aristotle frames his text by explaining that he is investigating the what (the existing facts about animals) prior to establishing the why (the causes of these characteristics). The book is thus an attempt to apply philosophy…

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The Eclogues

The Eclogues

Virgil

The Eclogues, also called the Bucolics, is the first of the three major works of the Latin poet Virgil. It contains ten pieces, populated by and large with herdsmen imagined conversing and performing amoebaean singing in largely rural settings, whether suffering or embracing revolutionary change or happy or unhappy love. Performed with…

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The Categories

The Categories

Aristotle

The Categories is a text from Aristotle’s Organon that enumerates all the possible kinds of things that can be the subject or the predicate of a proposition. The work is brief enough to be divided, not into books as is usual with Aristotle’s works, but into fifteen chapters. The Categories places every object of human apprehension under one of ten categories (known to medieval writers as the Latin term…

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Plutarch’s Lives

Plutarch's Lives

Plutarch

Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch’s Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, written in the late 1st century. The surviving Parallel Lives contain twenty-three pairs of biographies, each pair consisting…

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Cupid and Psyche

Cupid and Psyche

Apuleius

Cupid and Psyche is a story from the Latin novel Metamorphoses, also known as The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century AD by Apuleius. It concerns the overcoming of obstacles to the love between Psyche (“Soul” or “Breath of Life”) and Cupid (“Desire”), and their ultimate union in a sacred marriage.

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