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Minimum reading for studying ancient languages

On the basis of multiple discussions on meaningful readings in Greek and Latin throughout the studies, we have developed the following text and canon in Classical Philology. This text may and should be distributed. The texts mentioned here represent the approximate horizon of expectation for the final examinations.

Minimum reading for studying ancient languages 

  1. What is listed below under (8) and (9) are exclusively original language readings and reading scopes.

  2. Reading begins in the first semester. All of the following are readings that are required parallel and complementary to the translation requirements of the course of study. At the end of your studies, you should not only know the contents offered more or less randomly during the courses; if that were the purpose of your studies, we would only be able to address a very narrow canon of classics. The courses serve two purposes:

    a They intend to impart how to handle texts in principle.
    b They should also address texts that you would rather not read on your own and without guidance.
    c However, this means that you must cover elementary readings on your own.

  3. As a rule, the course of study should be used to read as much as possible in German or better in two languages. You must keep in mind that classical philology is first and foremost a reading course of study, as are all literary studies. For this “secondary” reading, we recommend three things:
    a Try to read as many complete works as possible: This means that if you read a work, read it, if possible, completely; that is, for instance, not only books 1-4 of Virgil’s Aeneid but all of them.
    b Get an overview of all the literature you have studied. You can easily do this with the Reclam series, available for both languages (5 volumes each) “Latin/Greek Literature in excerpts.”
    c Always read! In no semester, you should stop completely. Read every day, even if it is only for 30 minutes.

  4. In the state examination, you are not only questioned about “your” authors. Your general literary-historical competence is always assessed. Furthermore, your active translation skills play a central role in grading.
  5. Read a history of literature in your first semester already so that you know, in which field your future lectures are set! For Latin literature, we recommend Manfred Fuhrmann, Geschichte der römischen Literatur. For Greek literature: Marting Hose, Kleine griechische Literaturgeschichte.
  6. The scope mentioned in the following is only a recommendation. As a rule, you should always read up on an author and his style in such a way that you can distinguish him from others, that that you can translate his text, and master the corresponding basic vocabulary. Translating, therefore, always includes writing down vocabulary and learning it!!
  7. The decision which excerpts you want to translate in the original language is up to you. First, read the respective text or text corpus in German (YES!) And then decide what exactly you want to read in Latin.
  8. Greek authors

    a Poetry

  1. Books each from Iliad and Odyssey

  2. Tragedy: One drama each by Sophocles and Euripides

  3. Comedy: One drama by Aristophanes

  4. Chorus lyrics: One ode by Pindar

  5. Epigraphs: 10 epigraphs from each book of the Anthologia Palatina

  6. Later epic: One book from the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes or from the Dionysiaca by Nonnus of Panopolis

    b Prose:

  1. Historiography: One book by Herodotus or Thucydides or Xenophon

  2. Novel: Longus, Daphnis and Chloe

  3. Rhetoric: A longer oration by Lysias or Demosthenes

  4. Philosophy:

  5. One dialogue by Plato

  6. Chapters 1-15 of Aristotle’s Poetic

  7. Imperial literature:  a longer dialogue by Lucian or one of Lucian’s four smaller corpora of dialogues

 9. Latin authors

a Poetry

  1. Epos: 3 books of Virgil’s Aeneid and 3 books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses or 2 books of Lucan’s Bellum Civile

  2. Tragedy: 1 tragedy by Seneca

  3. Comedy: 1 comedy by Plautus

  4. Lyric: 2 items from 1 book Horatius, Odes; Catull Polytera; Prudentius, Peristephanon

  5. Elegy: 1 book Ovid, Amores and 1 book Tibull or Propertius

  6. Later epic: 1 book Statius, Thebais or 1 book Claudian; alternatively, Satire: 1 book Iuvenal

b Prose:

  1. Historiography: Sallust, Coniuratio or Bellum Iugurthinum; 1 book Tacitus (Annales or Histories) and 1 book Livy

  2. 2 books Apuleius

  3. Rhetoric: Orations by Cicero with a scope of about 60 OCT pages (1 bigger or 3 smaller ones)

  4. Philosophy: 1 bigger philosophical work by Cicero

  5. Epistle literature: 2 books letters by Pliny and 2 books Seneca, Epistulae morales