Reading List

The following reading list is compiled from all the references, sources, and allusions mentioned in the podcast. Start your home library today!



Anthologies and Textbooks to Work Through


  • Hutchins, Robert Maynard, ed. Great Books of the Western World. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1952. Print.
  • Eliot, Charles, ed. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909. Print.
  • Starr, Chester G. A History of the Ancient World. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print.
  • Watson, Peter. Ideas: a History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud. New York: Harper Perennial, 2006. Print. ~ (The History of Ideas!)
  • Copleston, Frederick. History of Philosophy (Volumes 1-11). New York: Continuum, 2003. Print. ~ (Philosophy, taken chronologically. Very accessible.)
  • Flew, Antony. An Introduction to Western Philosophy: Ideas and Argument from Plato to Popper. Rev. ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Print. ~ (Philosophy, taken thematically. Slightly more academic but excellent commentary and inter-textuality. Read Copleston first.)
  • Clark, Gordon. Thales to Dewey: A History of Philosophy. 4th ed. Jefferson, MD: Trinity Foundation, 2000. Print. ~ (Philosophy, taken chronologically. Magnificent survey written in a whimsical tone and style. Read Copleston first.)
  • Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions. New York: Harper Collins, 2009. Print. ~ (Great survey of world religions.)
  • The Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments) – Find reading plans here; I like the New Revised Standard Version.
  • List of Common Biblical Allusions, References, Quotes, and Verses (KJV) – Download – Compiled by Maria Ramirez


Reading List in Recommended Order by Lecture


Episode 001 – The Liberal Arts: An Introduction:

Hutchins, Robert Maynard. The  Great Conversation. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1952. Print. Download

Murray, Charles A. Real education: four simple truths for bringing America’s schools back to reality. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008. Print.

Episode 002 – Western Civilization, the Dialectic, and our Syllabus:

Cowan, Louise. “The Necessity of the Classics.” The Intercollegiate Review, 2001. Download

Episode 003 – A Primer on Logic:

Kreeft, Peter, and Trent Dougherty. Socratic Logic. 3rd ed. South Bend: St. Augustine Press, 2008. Print.

Episode 003.1 – C&C – Rhetoric:

Corbett, Edward P. J., and Robert J. Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

Joseph, Miriam. The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric. Reprint. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2002. Print.

Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” 1946. Download

Episode 004 – History and Historiography:

Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2010. Print.

Episode 007 – Mythistory and Comparative Mythology:

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 3rd ed. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008. Print.

Frazer, James G. “The Golden Bough.” 1922. Full Text Online

Tolkien, J.R.R. “On Fairy Stories.” 1947. Download

Episode 007.1 – C&C – Four River Valleys and Civilization:

Childe, Gordon. “The Urban Revolution.” 1950. Download

Episode 008 – Ancient China: Xia to Han:

Keay, John. China: A History. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print.

Alternatively, you could subscribe to The China History Podcast by Laszlo Montgomery!

Episode 009 – Confucius, Daoism, and Legalism:

Leys, Simon, and Confucius. The Analects of Confucius. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. Print.

Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. London: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.

Sun Tzu. The Art of War. ca. 512 B.C. Full Text Online

Episode 010 – Indus, Aryans, and India:

Bryant, Edwin F. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: the Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Episode 011 – Hinduism, its Literature, and Intro to Religion:

The Mahabharata (with the Bhagavad-Gita). Full Text Online

The Ramayana. Full Text Online

Episode 012 – Buddhism:

Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. New York: B&N Classics, 2007. Print.

Episode 013 – Introduction to Egypt:

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Ozymandias. Text & Analysis

The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Full Text Online

Allen, James P. Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Episode 014 – Mesopotamia: Sumerians to Chaldeans:

Kramer, Samuel Noah. History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Man’s Recorded History. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981. Print.

Episode 015 – The Epic of Gilgamesh:

The Epic of Gilgamesh. Full Text Online

Episode 017 – The Book of Job and the Problem of Evil:

The Book of Job, New Revised Standard Version. Full Text Online

Alvin Plantinga’s “Standard Interpretation” of The Book of Job, from: Plantinga, Alvin. “14. Suffering and Evil.” Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 494-498. Print. Full Text Online

Miles, Jack. God: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. Print.

Keller, Timothy. “Chapter 14. Praying.” Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering. New York: Dutton, Penguin Groups USA, 2003. Print.

Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. London: Centenary Press, 1940. Print. ~ (…then, compare with the below book, by the same author…)

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. Print.

Chesterton, G.K. “Introduction to the Book of Job.” Full Essay Online.

Episode 18 – Tour of the Hebrew Bible:

Select readings from the Hebrew Bible:
Genesis [Read Online]
Exodus [Read Online]
Joshua [Read Online]
Judges [Read Online]
I, II Samuel [Read Online – I Samuel], [2 Samuel]
I, II Kings [Read Online – I Kings], [2 Kings]
Psalms [Read Online]
Proverbs [Read Online]
Isaiah [Read Online]

Episode 19 – Minoans & Mycenaeans:

“The Minoan-Mycenaean World” (subsection from Chapter 5) and “The Beginnings of Greek Civilization” (Chapter 9) in Chester G. Starr’s A History of the Ancient World (see Anthologies and Textbooks, above).

Episode 20 – Homer and the Epic:

Mitchell, Stephen. Homer’s Iliad. New York: Atria Books, 2012. Print. (Read Samuel Butler’s free translation online, here.)

Episode 21 – Greek Mythology and the Odyssey:

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York: Grand Central Pub., 2011. Print.

Bullfinch’s Mythology [Full Text Online]

Hesiod’s Theogeny and Works and Days [Full Text Online]

The Odes of Pindar [Full Text Online]

Episode 22 – Greek Warfare:

Herodotus’ The Histories. [Full Text Online]

Episode 23 – Polis, Politics, and Persians:

William Stearns Davis’ A Day in Old Athens. [Full Text Online]

Episode 25 – Greek Drama & Aristotle’s Poetics:

Greek Tragedies and Comedies (see Volume 5 of The Great Books series):

Aeschylus (Tragedies) [Biography and Background]
The Oresteia: [Read Online] [Themes, Commentary, and Interpretations]
Prometheus Bound: [Read Online] [Themes, Commentary, and Interpretations]

Sophocles (Tragedies) [Biography and Background]
Oedipus Rex: [Read Online] [Themes, Commentary, and Interpretations]
Antigone: [Read Online] [Themes, Commentary, and Interpretations]

Aristophanes (Comedies) [Biography and Background]
Lysistrata: [Read Online] [Themes, Commentary, and Interpretations]

Episode 26 – Introduction to Western Philosophy:

“What Counts as Progress in Philosophy” (Chapter 1) in Antony Flew’s An Introduction to Western Philosophy (see Anthologies and Textbooks, above).

28.1 – C&C – Parmenides, Xenophanes:

Parmenides. The Poem of Parmenides, or “On Nature.” ca. 450 B.C. Trans., John Burnett, 1892. [Full Text Online]

Episode 30 – The Sophists, Skepticism, and Relativism:

Plato. Theaetetus. ca. 360 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Plato. Gorgias. ca. 380 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Episode 31 – Socrates:

Plato. Phaedo. ca. 385 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Plato. Crito. ca. 387 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Plato. Apology. ca. 399 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Episode 33 – Plato’s Metaphysics: The Theory of Forms:

Plato. Parmenides. ca. 370 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Episode 34 – Plato’s Allegory of the Cave:

Plato. Republic, Book VII. ca. 360 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland, 2nd ed. 1884. [Full Text Online]

Episode 35 – Plato’s Epistemology and Religion:

Plato. Meno. ca. 380 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Plato. Timaeus. ca. 360 B.C. Trans., Benamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Episodes 36-37 – The Peloponnesian War:

Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War. 431 B.C. Trans., Richard Crawley. [Full Text Online]

Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. Re-print.

Xenophon. The Anabasis, or The March of the Ten Thousand. ca. 470 B.C. Trans., Carleton L. Brownson. [Full Text Online]

Episode 38 – Alexander the Great:

Arrian of Nicomedia. The Anabasis of Alexander. A.D. 2nd century. Trans., E. J. Chinnock. [Full Text Online]

Plutarch. The Life of Alexander. A.D. 75. Trans., John Dryden. [Full Text Online]

Episode 39 – Introduction to Aristotle:

Aristotle. The Categories. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., E. M. Edghill. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. On Interpretation. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., E. M. Edghill. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. On Physics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., R. P. Hardie and R. K. Gaye. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. On Metaphysics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., W. D. Ross. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. The History of Animals. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., Darcy Wentworth Thompson. [Full Text Online]

Episode 40 – Aristotle on Form and Knowledge:

Aristotle. Prior Analytics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., A. A. Jenkinson. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. Posterior Analytics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., G. R. G. Mure. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. De Anima, or “On the Soul”. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., J. A. Smith. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. On Generation and Corruption. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., H. H. Joachim. [Full Text Online]

Episode 41 – Aristotle on God, Cosmology, and Ethics:

Aristotle. On The Heavens. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., J. L. Stocks. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., W. D. Ross. [Full Text Online]

Episode 42-43 – Origins of Political and Economic Thought:

Plato. Republic, Book I. ca. 360 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Aristotle. Politics. ca. 350 B.C. Trans., Benjamin Jowett. [Full Text Online]

Episode 44 – Hellenistic Philosophy:

Lucretius. De Rerum Natura. ca. 50 B.C. Trans., William Ellery Leonard. [Full Text Online]

Epictetus. Sayings. ca. A.D. 100. [Full Text Online]
Marcus Aurelius. The Meditations. ca. A.D. 167. Trans., George Long. [Full Text Online]

Episode 45 – Introduction to Rome:

Livy. The History of Rome, or “Ab Urbe Condita Libri,Books I & II. ca. 25 B.C., Trans., Rev. Canon Roberts. [Full Text Online] ~ (I recommend starting with Book 1, Section 4 (1.4) and continuing through Book 2. We’ll cover the Trojan stuff from 1.1-1.3 in our episode on The Aeneid!)

Episode 46 – Roman Government:

Polybius. The Histories, Books I. ca. 146 B.C. Trans., Evelyn S. Shuckburgh. [Full Text Online]

_____. The Histories, Book VI. [Full Text Online]

Episode 47 – Roman Patronage, Warfare, and Values:

Plutarch. Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans: Cato the Elder. ca. A.D. 90. [Full Text Online]

_____. Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans: Camillus. ca. A.D. 90. [Full Text Online]  (The Gauls discover wine!)

Episode 48 – Roman Expansion to the Punic Wars:

Dodge, Theodore. Hannibal: A History of the Art of War Among the Carthaginians. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1891. [Full Text Online]

Polybius. The Histories, Book III. ca. 146 B.C. Trans., Evelyn S. Shuckburgh. [Full Text Online]

Episode 49 – Syracuse, the Third Punic War, and Aftermath:

Author. Title. City: Publisher, Date. [Full Text Online]

Episode 50 – The Last Days of the Republic, Part 1:

Author. Title. City: Publisher, Date. [Full Text Online]

Comments (12)

  1. Allan Hogue

    I hope you can keep up the energy to finish(ish) . My background has been trades and engineering. If I had been given some proper training in logic and rhetoric it would have saved my employers millions.
    Logical law that may be new to you. “There is no law that says there is only one problem”. Allan Hogue circa 1988.
    If your in the Niagara area come for a beer (or two) by the pool.

    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      Gladly, and thank you! I hope you didn’t think I was being academically elitist or snobby. I respect tradesmen a great deal. My passion for the classical education lies in its relevance for anyone who wants to live in a free country, not just the ivory tower professors. I like Hogue’s law. It’s very true, and I’ll try to keep it in mind, especially as a counter-balance to its spiritual competitor: Occam’s Razor (“always go with the fewest assumptions”). Thanks for note. New episode tomorrow…hopefully.

  2. William

    I love your podcast. Now I know why my father had his collection of the Great Books that he reread over the years. Hope you can continue through this long, but very worthwhile journey. Looking forward to the next episode and reading supplements. I did read “Ideas” by Peter Watson. Excellent choice that I enjoyed very much. William

    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      It sounds like you and your father have good taste in books! Also, I approve of your name.

  3. Lisa

    Are you still making new content? The dates on the website look old but the podcast feed looks recent.

    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      Sure am! I’ve slowed down a little, but I’ve been getting a new episode out every two weeks or so. Which dates are you referring to?–I should change them! Thanks for checking out the website.

  4. Robert


    Have you read “Who killed Homer” By Victor Davis Hanson?

    This book is about the decline of classical learnings in the modern world. Would recommend/10


    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      No, I have not! But thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out and credit you if I add it to the reading list!

  5. James Beirne

    Hi Will, love the podcast! A question: what podcasts do you personally listen to? I’m looking for some new feeds.

    1. Will Webb (Post author)


      “Voices from the Ages,” by Kevin Valbonesi. Each episode is a snippet from history told from the POV of an average-Joe type.
      Peter Adamson’s “History of Philosophy” podcast was a goldmine for thinking about my own philosophy episodes (though I certainly tried to be original).
      …and, my guilty pleasure: “Boars, Gore, and Swords: A Game of Thrones Podcast,” though only the episodes pertaining to the TV show. Heh…everybody’s allowed to unwind a little.

      Honestly, though, I spend a lot more time on iTunes U. Right now I’m exercising my way through the Hillsdale College audio courses (Western Heritage, American Heritage, and Economics).

      Thanks for listening!

  6. Nat

    In Episode 13 regarding Egypt, you said that the incest taboo wasn’t as strictly enforced as it is today. When it came to the royals, that is certainly the case; however, there’s actually been debate in the past few years as to whether the “sister” and “brother” terms used in much of the love poetry was a blood kinship term, or if it was an affective, the way we’d use “beloved” or “other half.” It could be that such taboos were stronger for the common people than for royalty, as was the case with European nobility.

    1. Will Webb (Post author)

      Interesting! I just referred back to that in my Fall of Rome (Part 3) episode, when I was talking about Cleopatra and Ptolemy…I wish I’d had your note! Do you know where I can learn more about this? I’ll be sure to put this in the next correspondence episode, too!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *