Monday, November 14, 2005

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Texts but Were Afraid to Ask (Part Deux)

Previously, I asked for suggestions for an essential reading list of secondary sources on the ancient world. Here's what we've got so far:

Bing, Peter. The Well-Read Muse.
Buck, Carl Darling. The Greek Dialects.
Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion.
Dill, Samuel. Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius.
Dodds, E.R. The Greeks and the Irrational.
Finley, M.I. The Ancient Economy.
Frazer, James. The Golden Bough.
Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Guthrie, W.K.C. A History of Greek Philosophy.
Harrison, Jane Ellison. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion.
Heinze, Richard. Virgil's Epic Technique.
Jaeger, Werner. Paideia.
Lord, A.B. The Singer of Tales.
Meiggs, R., and D. Lewis, A selection of Greek historical inscriptions to the end of the fifth century B.C.
Nagy, Gregory. The Best of the Achaeans.
Pickard-Cambridge, A.W. Dithyramb, Tragedy And Comedy (the original of 1927, not T.B.L. Webster's 1962 update).
Pickard-Cambridge, A.W. Dramatic Festivals of Athens.
Sandys, John Edwin. A History of Classical Scholarship.
Snell, Bruno. The Discovery of the Mind.
Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution.
Vermeule, Emily. Greece in the Bronze Age.
Wilamowitz. History of Classical Scholarship (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones).
Wilkinson, L.P. Golden Latin Artistry.
Williams, Bernard. Shame and Necessity.

Thanks to everyone for some great suggestions. I think we can still do a little more, though. If anyone has recommendations for histories or handbooks of Greek and Latin literature (for example, I have some familiarity with Lesky for Greek lit. and Conte for Latin; perhaps I'll add those) or meter (both Greek and Latin--preferably something that would be understandable for undergraduates; perhaps Halporn/Otswald/Rosenmeyer?), please please please drop them in the comments box.


Wm Annis said...

I'd think M.L. West's The East Face of Helicon deserves a mention.

Mark P. said...

The Greek material's already well-covered by Jaeger in "Paideia", but how about Edith Hamilton's "The Greek Way", and "The Roman Way?" These are excellent basic surveys of the literature, and quite enthusiastic and accessible for non-specialists. A more modern, but maybe less scholarly, rendition of the Greek material may also be found in Thomas Cahill's "Sailing The Wine Dark Sea."

dennis said...

The first volume of Rudolf Pfeiffer's History of Classical Scholarship is widely considered the best treatment from antiquity through the hellenistic period.

Hugh Lloyd-Jones says in the introduction to the Alan Harris translation of Wilamowitz's HCS that Pfeiffer is good up until the middle of the 17th century.

I wonder if it wouldn't be a bad idea to read Pfeiffer as well.

keyser soze said...

For the origins of Greek tragedy/drama, Pickard-Cambridge's DFA and DTC are certainly required reading. BUT... One needs a corrective from the ritual birth of drama. Try John Herington's Poetry into Drama (Sather #49, UCalPress 1985). His seminal exposition of the poetry performance culture is something of an epiphane and will affect your thinking far beyond the bounds of tragedy itself.

It was this book that provided the necessary synthesis for understanding Homeric composition, a process I now think of as much more akin to modern comedians working up their act and how that act can be formalized / codified in particular recordings. In fact, there's a very nice passage in Frazer's Cold Mountain in which a fiddler talks about how ridiculous it is to think that anyone owns a song when each performer takes what he's heard and changes it to make it his own; while this isn't quite as good an analog, it at least serves to spark thought about how performace shapes the product in art.

John Herington, Poetry into Drama: early tragedy and the Greek poetic tradition; it will seem entirely obvious after your first read.