Latin and Greek Texts: What Are We Reading in Schools and Universities?

Research post authored and posted by Emily Franzini. School and university curricula love Homer. This is a fact. You don’t need to be a student of Classics to know who Homer was and what he wrote. Even Hollywood is familiar with his Iliad and Odyssey. What we’re interested in finding out, however, is who else and what else we are reading during our Latin and Ancient Greek lessons, and furthermore, if every country studies the same texts. To this end, we picked a sample of six countries, each boasting a relatively high number of students taking these subjects at various levels of proficiency. These are the USA, the UK, Germany, Croatia, Italy and Austria. For each we visited their Ministry of Education websites, secondary school examination board websites and many university Classics departmental pages. We emailed and waited. At last, we were able to compile a list of the top most read authors for each of these countries. Though fully aware that the information we gathered is only part of the puzzle, we also chose to make one list of the top three authors of Latin, and top three of Greek across all countries considered. Here is what we found: in first and second place for Greek, was, of course, the beloved Homer – his epic poems narrating the events of the Trojan War and the return of Odysseus to Ithaca being favourites among readers; in third place we have the Histories by Herodotus – considered by many the founding work of history. For Latin the first place is awarded to Vergil’s Aeneid recounting the adventures of Aeneas following the war of Troy; second place goes to Catullus’ Poems about his...