Classical Studies and Greek

Greek life has a different meaning at St. John’s. Freshmen begin their classical studies with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, before diving into the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, the comedies and tragedies of Aristophanes, Sophocles, and the philosophy of Heraclitus, Plato, and Aristotle. Students go from tackling the elements of ancient Greek grammar and exploring the ways it differs from English, to reflecting on the relation of thought to language and translating Plato’s Meno. Attic Greek can be daunting, but tutors and language assistants are ready to help.


Classical studies and Greek are a few of the many subjects studied in the college’s interdisciplinary great books curriculum. There are no majors at St. John’s. Instead, students explore all these subjects over the course of all four years. Learn more about St. John’s classes.

Books and More

Aeschylus Agamemnon, Eumenides, Libation Bearers, Prometheus Bound

Apollonius Conics

Archimedes Essays

Aristophanes Clouds

Aristotle Categories, De Anima, Generation of Animals, Nicomachean Ethics, On Generation and Corruption, On Interpretation, Parts of Animals, Physics, Poetics, Politics, Prior Analytics, Metaphysics

Augustine Confessions

Euclid Elements

Epictetus Discourses

Euripides Hippolytus, Bacchae

Herodotus Histories

Homer Iliad, Odyssey

Livy Early History of Rome

Lucretius On the Nature of Things

Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

Claudio Monteverdi L’Orfeo

Plato Apology, Crito, Gorgias, Meno, Parmenides, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Republic, Sophist, Symposium, Theaetetus, Timaeus

Plotinus The Enneads

Plutarch “Antony,” “Brutus,” “Caesar,” “Cato the Younger,” “Lycurgus,” “Solon”

Ptolemy Almagest

Racine Phèdre

Sappho Poems

Sophocles Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus Rex, Philoctetes

Tacitus Annals

Thucydides Peloponnesian War

Virgil Aeneid

Hebrew Bible

New Testament

Aeschylus Agamemnon, Prometheus Bound

Aristophanes Frogs

Aristotle Ethics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On the Heavens, Physics, Politics, Rhetoric, Rhetoric and Poetics

Augustine City of God, Confessions

Cicero On Friendship and On Ends

Euripides Alcestis, Plays, emphasis on Bacchae

Herodotus Histories

Homer Iliad, Odyssey

Lucretius De rerum natura

Ovid Metamorphoses

Plato Alcibiades I and Laches, Laws, Parmenides and Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Philebus, Republic, Sophist and Statesman, Theaetetus, Meno, Ion, and Euthyphro, Dialogues Protagoras and Euthydemus

Plutarch Lives

Sophocles Ajax and Antigone, Trachinian Women and Philoctetes

Epictetus Discourses

Marcus Aurelius Meditations

Thucydides The Peloponnesian War

Virgil The Aeneid

Vyasa The Mahabharata

Xenophon The Education of Cyrus, Socratic Writings

Ancient Greek Drama: Tragedy, Comedy, Satyr play … Philosophy?

Early Buddhist Discourses

Genesis and Exodus

Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus

Laozi and Zhuangzi

Readings from Muslim Philosophers who Introduced Ancient Greek Thoughts into Western Europe

Socrates and Ancient Skeptics


Chinese Conversation


Greek New Testament


Latin Poetry

The information presented is for illustration purposes only and may not reflect the current reading list and preceptorial and study group offerings. Works listed are studied at one or both campuses, although not always in their entirety.

Senior Essay

Ignorance and Impotence: Obstacles to the Philosopher’s Use of Political Rhetoric in Plato’s Gorgias

Senior Essay

The Allure of Goodness In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: The Most Vague Advice in the World: In Order To Be Happy, Be Yourself

Senior Essay

The Lordly View of the True: Metaphysics as Political Philosophy in Plato’s Parmenides

Senior Essay

Home at Last: Deception and Revelation in the Odyssey

Senior Essay

Achilles and the Devastation of Learning

Senior Essay

On Greatness in Plutarch’s Lives: Alexander the Great and Pompey

Senior Essay

The Music of Philosophy: An Inquiry with Plato’s Phaedo

Senior Essay

On the Motions of the Soul in Plato’s Phaedo

Senior Essay

From Child to Citizen: Ethical Education and Responsibility in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Senior Essay

The Bawdy Politic: Examinations on Gender in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

Senior Essay

What is a Beautiful Conversation? An Interpretation of Socrates’ Palinode

Senior Essay

Helen of Sparta: Finding Oneself in the Darkness of Shame

Senior Essay

The Brutal Reality of War: On Blood Meridian and the Iliad

Senior Essay

Flame and Stone: Sight and Interaction in Ovid’s Metamorphosis

Senior Essay

Must Eros be Winged?—On Love in Plato’s Phaedrus

Senior Essay

Rise and Fall: A Study of Aeneas and the Final Scene of The Aeneid

Senior Essay

Sappho’s Fragments: On Longing

Senior Essay

Oedipus and the Sphinx—An Inquiry into Understanding the Self in Beyond Good and Evil

Senior Essay

Medea: The Tragic Heroine behind the Terrible Murderess: An Examination of Filicide in Euripides’s Medea

Senior Essay

Marcus Aurelius and a Philosophy of Life

Senior Essay

A Farewell to Athens: The Rhetoric and Reality of Pericles’ Orations

Senior Essay

Plato’s Meno: A Conversation on Virtue

Senior Essay

Odysseus in the Iliad: The Man Behind Agamemnon