Classics - Oxford VSI

I was looking at Classics: A Very Short Introduction by Mary Beard and John Henderson (1995) and found that towards the end there is a timeline, where in the first two pages it listed some timeline and events / figures / works. Altogether 31 literary figures are mentioned



1. Homer

2. Sappho

3. Alcaeus

4. Aeschylus

5. Sophocles

6. Euripides

7. Herodotus

8. Democritus (no extant works

9. Thucydides

10 Aristophanes

11. Socrates (no extant works)

12. Plato

13. Aristotle

14. Menander

15. Epicurus (very few extant works, some in Diogenes Laertius)

16. Plautus (Latin)

17. Polybius


18. Catullus

19. Lucretius

20. Julius Caesar

21. Cicero

22. Gallus (not extant much)

23. Virgil

24. Varro

25. Livy

26. Horace

27. Vitruvius

28. Ovid

29. Tacitus

30. Juvenal

31. Pausanias (Greek)


I find this short list interesting in that my selection of the 13 greek/roman classics are mosty (with a couple of exception) a subset of this list of 31; the ones bolded above were the ones I have included in my "Western" list.  I have also included 

- Diogenes Laertius, which captures some of the legends / traditions regarding the lives and sayings of the Greek philosophers (e.g. democritus, socrates, epicurus)

- Plotinus - not typically studied by the classicist, but Neo-Platonism highly influential in medieval philosohpy and theology


The other thing I find interesting is VSI's sense of balance, it tries to make Latin almost as much weight as Greek; which is clearly different from mine - my view is that Greeks have predominance because of their earlier dates which exerts influence on the Latin authors - Homer affects Virgil and not the other way round. In addition, Latin was really never strongly used as a language for philosophy, which limits Latin's scope at least in the classical period. Lastly, there are actually quite a few Greek works that are of importance even in the Roman Empire period that this VSI (understandably) skipped over.


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