There are several of us who have been tossing around the idea of reading more of the Greek classics. Our interests vary: history, comedy, tragedy, philosophy, politics, etc. We realized that Classical Athens was a very small community with a few key players that have had a great amount of influence on Western culture. They show up as characters in history, oration, philosophical dialogues and satiric comedies. The writings of Plato, Aristophanes, Euripides, Thucydides, Xenophon and the Sophists are all reacting and responding to each other and the current events of the final 30 years of the 5th Century BCE.
We have also discovered that reading books in the context of the events, people and other books they are reacting too provides some amazing insight into what they have to say. We have created a plan to read the great works of late 5th Century Athens, year by year so that we can really get to know them. As we are scattered around the country we will be reading and interacting by Twitter, blog and bi-monthly Skype chats. Please feel free to join us for whatever interests you. Feel free to pick and choose. If you like History you could read along with Xenophon and Thucydides. If you like Drama you could participate in the readings of Aristophanes and Euripides. If you want Philosophy, there will be plenty of that! And I can personally guarantee that you will come away with a very different understanding of Plato and Socrates than you have ever experienced before.
Here is a copy of our reading list. Every week or two we hope to read one dramatic work, a book of history, a short philosophical dialogue (Plato’s Meno) or a section of a longer dialogue (e.g., Plato’s Laws). Dates and times to follow. If you are interested in joining for some or all of Reading Athens leave a comment, send an email, or follow us on Twitter at #readingathens. More details to follow soon.