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Ancient Classics

All were written in a language other than modern English. These classics are generally considered to be among the highest achievements of mankind, and are worthy of reading in translation (or, if you can manage it, in the original language).

See also MIT Internet Classics Archive

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer

One of the earliest adventure stories. The epic poem tells of Odysseus and his companions, who travel the Mediterranean on the way home from the Trojan Wars. Along the way they encounter all manner of obstacles put in their path by a vengeful god, Poseidon.

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The Iliad

The Iliad by Homer

This epic poem takes place at the beginning of the Trojan Wars. When King Agamemnon dishonors Achilles, the greatest warrior among the Greeks, he sits out the war. When the Trojan prince Hector kills Achilles best friend, Achilles seeks vengeance.

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Beowulf

Beowulf

An epic poem written in Old English when nordic clans held dominion over England. Beowulf is a hero who travels from Sweden to Denmark to help defeat a monster named Grendel.

Difficult because of writing style or arcane references but effort will be rewarded Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

A series of short fables about various pilgrims in the Middle Ages who travel together to Canterbury. Originally in Middle English. These tales are a window into ordinary life at that time and deal allegorically with a variety of virtues and vices.

Difficult because of writing style or arcane references but effort will be rewarded Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle
The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy by Dante Aleghieri

Epic poem in three parts; The Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Masterpiece that marks the end of the Middle Ages and the opening of the Renaissance. The poet tells in the first person his travel through the three realms of the dead. His guide through Hell and Purgatory is the Latin poet Virgil, author of The Aeneid, and the guide through Paradise is Beatrice, Dante's ideal of a perfect woman.

Requires some effort but contains a unique concept or truth Held by the Library eBook Amazon Barnes and Noble Kindle