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Reading List

Ancient History and Classical Archaeology / Classical Civilisation

Some of you will have taken A levels or GCSEs in classical subjects, whereas others will be coming fresh to the subject. Whatever your background, you might like to spend some time over the summer vacation reading some of the following. You don't need to read all of these - just dip into the areas you find most interesting!

Ancient Texts

  • Homer, Iliad and Odyssey: The Penguin Classics translations by Robert Fagles are good, see also Emily Wilson's new translation of the Odyssey. Lattimore's translations (University of Chicago Press) helpfully have the line number alongside the translation, which is useful later when you come to write essays.
  • Virgil, Aeneid: Penguin Classics edition (Fagles) or Oxford World's Classics (Fantham)
  • Greek Drama: esp. the Penguin Classics editions of Sophocles, Theban Plays (Fagles); Euripides' plays; Aristophanes (Sommerstein).
  • Herodotus, Histories (trans. Waterfield, Oxford World’s Classics);
  • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (trans. Hammond, Oxford World’s Classics).
  • Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars (trans, Graves Penguin Classics )/ The lives of the Caesars (trans. Edwards, Oxford World’s Classics)
Many of these can be found cheaply second hand. You'll also find older translations freely available on the internet on the Perseus Collection or on kindle.

Modern Introductions

  • Beard, M., Henderson, J. A Very Short Introduction to Classics (Oxford University Press 2000)
  • Blanshard, A. Classical World: All that matters (John Murray Learning 2015)
  • Cartledge, P. The Greeks. A Portrait of Self and Others (Oxford University Press 2002)
  • Lane Fox, R. The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian (Penguin 2006)
  • Treggiari, S. Roman Social History (Routledge 2002)

These are not books that you need to buy - they won't be textbooks for the course; but are lively introductions to different aspects of the classical world.

If you haven't studied an ancient language before, you may decide to start Greek or Latin. We will offer taster sessions in welcome week but if you are interested in starting an ancient language we suggest that you try to do some preparation before you arrive. Many students choose to take Latin, for which there is a good short introduction on how to go about learning Latin and a few basics at the Open University's Getting Started on Latin.

If you want to begin Greek instead, then please contact David Fearn ( for what you should do before arriving on campus and details of the course we follow. We will ask you to learn the alphabet before you arrive, which you can do hereLink opens in a new window. If you have a GCSE in Latin or Greek and think you should be on an intermediate language course, we will assess you on arrival, but you will probably want to contact David about getting up to speed again.