Great Books Part 1 – Ancient to 13th Century, Chronologically Arranged

I’ve mentioned in previous entries that I wanted to engage in the Great Books firsthand, after getting a lot of it secondhand. The big question was, which Great Books list should I use?

I found a few lists on various sites and one of my first lockdown projects was to compile, de-duplicate, arrange them by date, and assign countries of origin to them. My sources, primarily, were from here, here, and here, and a lot of InfoGalactic.

I have taken it upon myself to read these in chronological order. I tried to get the dates as exact as possible, but where I didn’t have an actual publication date, I would use some significant date from the author’s biography – such as year of death. I will put links to the versions I’ve read as soon as I read them to help mark my progress.

For your edification, please find below the first instalment of the list, which takes us from Gilgamesh to Aquinas. If you find any mistakes, let me know and I will update.

Now to actually start reading them.

YearGenreAuthorTitleCountry
-1800EpicUnknownEpic of Gilgamesh Ancient Near East
-700PoetryUnknownShijingAncient China
-645PoetryArchilochosArchilochos Ancient Greece
-600EpicHomerIliadAncient Greece
-600EpicHomerOdysseyAncient Greece
-600Philosphy / ReligionUnknownEgyptian Book of the DeadAncient Near East
-600PoetryAlcman Alcman Ancient Greece
-600PoetryHesiodWorks & Days, TheogonyAncient Greece
-600PoetrySapphoSapphoAncient Greece
-564FictionAesopFables Hellenistic Greece
-475Philosphy / ReligionHeraclitus Heraclitus Ancient Greece
-473Philosphy / ReligionConfuciusAnalects of ConfuciusAncient China
-450HistoryHerodotusHistoriesAncient Greece
-443PoetryPindarOdes Ancient Greece
-430Philosphy / ReligionEmpedoclesEmpedoclesAncient Greece
-420DramaAeschylusTragediesAncient Greece
-410HistoryThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War Ancient Greece
-406DramaEuripidesTragedies Ancient Greece
-406DramaSophoclesTragediesAncient Greece
-400Philosphy / ReligionUnknownMahabarathaAncient India
-386DramaAristophanesComedies Ancient Greece
-371HistoryXenophonMemorabilia Ancient Greece
-370ScienceHippocratesMedical Writings Ancient Greece
-359HistoryXenophonHellenicaAncient Greece
-354HistoryXenophonAnabasis Ancient Greece
-350Philosphy / ReligionUnknownRamayanaAncient India
-347Philosphy / ReligionPlatoDialogues Ancient Greece
-330Philosphy / ReligionDemosthenesDe Corona Ancient Greece
-322Philosphy / ReligionAristotleWorks Ancient Greece
-315DramaMenanderSamia Hellenistic Greece
-300ScienceEuclidElementsHellenistic Greece
-270Philosphy / ReligionEpicurus“Letter to Herodotus”; “Letter to Menoecus” Hellenistic Greece
-270PoetryTheocritusIdylls Hellenistic Greece
-246EpicApolloniusArgonauticaHellenistic Greece
-240PoetryCallimachusHymns & Epigrams Hellenistic Greece
-212ScienceArchimedesWorks Hellenistic Greece
-200Philosphy / ReligionVariousOld TestamentAncient Near East
-200Philosphy / ReligionVariousApocryphaAncient Near East
-200Philosphy / ReligionUnknownBhagavad GitaAncient India
-190ScienceApolloniusConics Hellenistic Greece
-184DramaPlautusPseudolus; The Braggart Soldier; The Rope; Amphitryon Roman
-159DramaTerenceThe Girl from Andros; The Eunuch; The Mother-in-Law Roman
-118HistoryPolybiusHistoriesRoman
-55Philosphy / ReligionLucretiusOn the Nature of Things Roman
-54PoetryCatullusAttis and Other Poems Roman
-43Philosphy / ReligionCiceroWorks Roman
-40HistoryJulius CaesarWorksRoman
-19EpicVirgilWorks (esp. Aeneid)Roman
8PoetryHoraceWorks (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry) Roman
9HistoryLivyHistory of RomeRoman
18EpicOvidWorks (esp. Metamorphoses)Roman
62PoetryPersiusSatires Roman
65DramaSenecaTragediesRoman
65Philosphy / ReligionSenecaLettersRoman
65PoetryLucanPharsalia Roman
66PoetryPetroniusSatyricon Roman
98HistoryTacitusAgricola Roman
98HistoryTacitusGermaniaRoman
100Philosphy / ReligionVariousThe New TestamentAncient Near East
100Philosphy / ReligionQuintilianInstitutes of Oratory Roman
100ScienceNicomachus of GerasaIntroduction to Arithmetic Hellenistic Greece
102Philosphy / ReligionTacitusDialogus de oratoribus (Dialogue on Oratory)Roman
104PoetryMartialEpigrams Roman
105HistoryTacitusHistories Roman
110PoetryJuvenalSatires Roman
120BiographyPlutarchParallel Lives; Moralia; Lives Hellenistic Greece
135Philosphy / ReligionEpictetusDiscoursesHellenistic Greece
135Philosphy / ReligionEpictetusEnchiridion Hellenistic Greece
150Philosphy / ReligionKalidasaSakuntalaAncient India
150Philosphy / ReligionVariousThe Apostolic Fathers Ancient Near East
160HistoryArrianAnabasis of AlexanderHellenistic Greece
168SciencePtolemyAlmagest Hellenistic Greece
180EssaysLucianWorks Hellenistic Greece
180Philosphy / ReligionMarcus AureliusMeditations Roman
200Philosphy / ReligionVariousSayings of the Fathers (Pirke Aboth)Ancient Near East
200ScienceGalenOn the Natural Faculties Hellenistic Greece
270Philosphy / ReligionPlotinusThe Enneads Roman
273Philosphy / ReligionLonginusOn the Sublime Hellenistic Greece
398Philosphy / ReligionSt. AugustineConfessions Latin
426Philosphy / ReligionSt. AugustineCity of God Latin
426Philosphy / ReligionSt. Augustine“On the Teacher”; On Christian DoctrineLatin
650Philosphy / ReligionMohammedKoranArabia
750EpicUnknownBeowulfEngland
850FictionUnknown1001 Nights Persia
950EpicUnknownShahnameh Persia
950EpicUnknownPoetic Edda Iceland
1050EpicUnknownThe Volsungs Saga or Nibelungenlied Iceland
1115EpicUnknownThe Song of RolandFrance
1138Philosphy / ReligionMaimonidesThe Guide for the Perplexed Spain
1140EpicUnknownPoem of the Cid Spain
1170EpicChretien De TroyesYvain, the Knight of the LionFrance
1220EpicSnorri SturlusonProse Edda Iceland
1250EpicEschenbachParzifal Germany
1250EpicUnknownThe Saga of Burnt NjálIceland
1256Philosphy / ReligionSt. Thomas Aquinas Of Being and EssenceItaly
1263Philosphy / ReligionSt. Thomas Aquinas Summa Contra GentilesItaly
1267Philosphy / ReligionSt. Thomas Aquinas Of the Governance of RulersItaly
1273Philosphy / ReligionSt. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica Italy
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