The Harvard Classics

In 1909, then Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot compiled and published his version of the Western canon — 51 volumes of essays, poetry and prose.  In 1985, my parents purchased a set, and it has slept peacefully in my father’s study ever since.  Around two months ago, I finally worked my way through the barricade of boxes and bric-a-brac that have accumulated in front of the shelves over the years.  The books were a lovely sight to behold.  Mr Eliot, challenge accepted.

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St John’s College Undergraduate Reading List

2008 edition.  This is probably the ultimate, as far as checklists go.


  • HOMER: Iliad, Odyssey
  • AESCHYLUS: Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides, Prometheus Bound
  • SOPHOCLES: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Philoctetes, Ajax
  • THUCYDIDES: Peloponnesian War
  • EURIPIDES: Hippolytus, Bacchae
  • HERODOTUS: Histories
  • PLATO: Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Symposium, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Timaeus, Phaedrus
  • ARISTOTLE: Poetics, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On Generation and Corruption, Politics, Parts of Animals, Generation of Animals
  • EUCLID: Elements
  • LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things
  • PLUTARCH: Lycurgus, Solon
  • NICOMACHUS: Arithmetic
  • LAVOISIER: Elements of Chemistry
  • HARVEY: Motion of the Heart and Blood
  • Essays by: Archimedes, Fahrenheit, Avogadro, Dalton, Cannizzaro, Virchow, Mariotte, Driesch, Gay-Lussac, Spemann, Stears, J.J. Thompson, Mendeleyev, Berthollet, J.L. Proust

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