Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Five Central Books

There are five books that everyone who wants to become classically educated should aspire to read and understand. I have called them the "central" books because they seem to stand, historically, at the literary center of the learning of educated people in the English world. Here they are:

Homer: by which we mean the Iliad and Odyssey, the book (they originally formed a diptych) that told the story of Achilles (in the Iliad) and Odysseus (in the Odyssey), and in doing so, articulated the ideals and values of the Greeks, whose culture stands at the headwaters of our own. Homer's stories served as the national myth of the Greeks, the narrative through which they saw themselves as the masters of strength and intelligence.

The Aeneid, by Virgil. This is the story of Aeneas, the Trojan prince who flees the burning city of Troy and founds Rome on the banks of the Tiber River. It articulated the ideals and values of the Romans, who saw themselves as masters of the world. It is the national myth of Rome and articulated the twin virtues of order and piety.

The Divine Comedy, by Dante. Dante's story of his journey through Hell, Purgatory, and finally Heaven is the story of every man's spiritual journey in life. It articulates the values of Christian civilization, the baptized cultural offspring of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem.

The King James Bible. There are other versions, of course, but this is the original and greatest of all the Bible translations, and the translation whose phrasings have permeated English literature and thought for centuries. Long passages from it were memorized by generations of English and American people. Whatever the various views on which Biblical translation is the most accurate (the only really accurate version is in Hebrew and Greek), many consider the King James Bible as the greatest work in English.

The Plays of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's plays are second in literary influence only to the Bible itself. It's variety of distinct characters and their insights into human character and society have dominated the thought of generations of English and Americans. It has also influenced European cultures in a way that no non-English modern work has influenced the English.

1 comment:

Andrea Robertson said...

Real hackers are still out there i came across on the internet and they delivered a perfect job of helping me hack into my cheating spouse phone and got all the message,chats,mails,pictures and even deleted once of the past 8 months, contact them via Whatsapp +14106350697, you can also come back to give your testimony.