Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General

In the last two posts, we reflected on the latter half of Volume I of Gibbon. Struggling under its immense size and the frequent civil strife of the 3rd century (including a period so tumultuous that it is known as the Crisis of the Third Century), the empire finally found some long-term stability during the reign of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General”

Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity

Here we shall continue with the second half of Volume I, but focusing on Gibbon’s chapters on the progress of religion in the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s General Reflections on Christian Persecution Chapters 15 and 16 of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall have historically been denounced for their critical attitude towards Christianity, and Gibbon in general was infamous for his … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity”

Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons

Having covered Rome’s Golden Age and the chaotic succession of short-lived or tyrannical emperors during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in Part 1 (chapters 1-14), we now continue in Part 2 with the remainder of Volume I of Decline and Fall (chapters 15-26), describing the reign of Constantine the Great and his descendants, and the increasing importance of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons”

Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline

The time has finally come for the last part of the trio of Great Books volumes in our 5-year reading schedule for this semester: Edward Gibbon’s massive The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s tome is a monumental work in the history of historical writing. Although its scholarship might be outdated … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline”

Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs

Finally we encounter the last two plays in Aristophanes’ surviving body of works. I’ve chosen to group these two together because both have prominent references to Greek tragedians and literature in general. We have already seen several instances of reference to Euripedes, for example in The Acharnians, where the playwright is enlisted to help the main … Continue reading “Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs”

Aristophanes: Peace, The Acharnians

Continuing right where we left off, we move away from alternate visions of economic systems and back into anti-war territory as first explored by Lysistrata. Both of these plays feature the idea of a lone protagonist single-handedly procuring peace for Athens, but greeted with wildly different responses. The Acharnians Let’s first briefly talk about The Acharnians, a play … Continue reading “Aristophanes: Peace, The Acharnians”

Aristophanes: Lysistrata, The Ecclesiazusae, Plutus

In the first post about Aristophanes, we learned about four plays named after the type of chorus. We commented upon their important role in channeling the plays’ political aspects. In these four plays, the political satire is as strong as ever. In fact, this is what defines Aristophanes as being a playwright of the Old Comedy, as opposed … Continue reading “Aristophanes: Lysistrata, The Ecclesiazusae, Plutus”

Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Knights

I’ve finally finished all 11 of Aristophanes’ plays in the Great Books collection in the last 3 weeks. It took longer because of finals week, which is finally over! Aristophanes is unique compared to the three previous Greek dramatists that we have read through, as he is a comedian, not a tragedian. Aristophanes’ dramas are … Continue reading “Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Knights”

Euripedes: Alcestis, Bacchantes, Ion, Hippolytus, Medea

We finally finish off Euripedes’ works with the last five remaining tragedies. Compared to the dramas of the last few weeks, these five tragedies surely represent a high point of Euripedes’ craft and art. Unlike the formulaic form and structure that we explored last week (as noted by Alan Sommerstein), these tragedies subvert expectations and … Continue reading “Euripedes: Alcestis, Bacchantes, Ion, Hippolytus, Medea”

Euripedes: Heracles Mad, Phoenician Women, The Suppliants, Cyclops

This week I finished four plays by Euripedes. I’m going slower that I’m anticipating, having yet to read anything by Aristophanes, much less starting on the Gibbon. At least in this coming week I hope to finish the five remaining Euripedes plays, among which are those often said to be his greatest: Hippolytus, Medea, Ion, Bacchantes, and Alcestis. Last weekend … Continue reading “Euripedes: Heracles Mad, Phoenician Women, The Suppliants, Cyclops”