Sophocles: Ajax, Philoctetes, The Trachiniae

This last week I’ve finally finished reading the last three plays of Sophocles out of the seven which survive today in complete form: Ajax, Philoctetes, and The Trachiniae. These plays are disconnected in terms of setting and characterization, unlike the Oedipus cycle plays we reviewed earlier. Two of them are plays which explicitly focus on a titular character. Ajax deals with the … Continue reading “Sophocles: Ajax, Philoctetes, The Trachiniae”

Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone

We continue off from the review of the first, and most famous play of the Oedipus trilogy, Oedipus the King. The final two plays in the trilogy are not nearly as famous nor well-known, but they each explore different issues that are insightful in their own right. Oedipus at Colonus This play is an interesting “suppliant … Continue reading “Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone”

Sophocles: Oedipus the King

Oedipus is famous in Western culture as a character who infamously killed his father and married his mother by mistake. He was the inspiration for Freud’s also notorious Oedipus complex, which is popularly understood as any kind of excessive or natural attachment that a son might have towards his mother. (I haven’t actually read any … Continue reading “Sophocles: Oedipus the King”

The Electras of Sophocles and Euripedes

Having finished reading all of the Aeschylus plays in GBWW Volume 4, I decided to proceed with the two Electra plays by Sophocles and Euripedes. If you don’t remember, Electra is the sister of Orestes, whose father Agamemnon was killed by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus in Aeschylus’ play Agamemnon in revenge for having sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia. … Continue reading “The Electras of Sophocles and Euripedes”

Aeschylus: The Persians, The Suppliant Maidens, Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound

I managed to finish reading the four remaining plays by Aeschylus in Volume 4 of GBWW this weekend. As I was reading in marathon, I came to notice structural similarities between the plays. A striking one was that all of them featured at least one extended dialogue between one of the main protagonists and the leader … Continue reading “Aeschylus: The Persians, The Suppliant Maidens, Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound”

Aeschylus’s Oresteia: Part 2, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides

I managed to resume my reading of the rest of the Oresteia trilogy this week after previously having read and wrote about Agamemnon, the first play in the series. I finished reading each play in less than an hour. Both plays are shorter than Agamemnon, and they share similar characteristics: concise, direct action in a clear succession of events, a … Continue reading “Aeschylus’s Oresteia: Part 2, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides”

The Confessions of Augustine

Augustine’s Confessions is what I would call truly establishing a genre – that of the personal narrative. Despite being written over a millennium and a half ago, it surprised me with its thoroughly modern candidness and accessibility. Augustine goes into lucid detail at many points, showing varied facets of his life and struggles which are no … Continue reading “The Confessions of Augustine”

Aeschylus’ Oresteia: Part 1, Agamemnon

It’s still the holidays, so I have way more free time than usual, but I’ve managed to read my first “book” in the Great Books collection: Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the first part of his trilogy the Oresteia. Trilogies aren’t just a modern phenomenon: according to this informative introduction to Greek theater, trilogies were regularly performed as part of Athen’s annual … Continue reading “Aeschylus’ Oresteia: Part 1, Agamemnon”

A 5-Year Plan for Reading the Great Books

I’ve decided that 2016 will be the start of my life plan to read all of the Great Books. There have been several plans for reading the whole set floating around, but none which have the criteria I need: Lasting for 5-6 years, so as to finish concurrently with my PhD in physics. I regard reading the … Continue reading “A 5-Year Plan for Reading the Great Books”

What is Liberal Learning For?

In my last post, I outlined a bit of my personal history, including my fixation on the importance of being a polymath – one who knows something about everything. I argued that learning in the tradition of the Great Books – and not necessarily limited to the book collection, but more generally the entire Western intellectual … Continue reading “What is Liberal Learning For?”