Commentary Assignment

Introduction to Greek Literature
Cornell College
Resources | Deadlines | Authors | Bibliography | Syllabus for GRE 205

What to include:

The basic idea is that this commentary will be useful to other students in the class if they want to read the passage, too. It should fall into five parts:
  1. a general introduction (1-2 pages), including but not limited to some brief biographical background on the author, background on the genre (e.g. biography, history, lyric, etc.), its context within the entire work, meter (if poetry), and any other general knowledge that is important for understanding the passage.
  2. a copy of the text on a single page (with line numbers added if not already included).
  3. your own translation (demonstrating your understanding of the Greek).
  4. a line by line commentary providing glosses for new vocabulary and explanations of unusual grammar, allusions, historical references, mythology, etc.
  5. a one or two page appreciation/synthesis of your reaction to the passage from a literary, scientific, or historical point of view.
    • Questions you might answer in part 5: how does an understanding of the Greek enrich your appreciation of the passage (i.e. nuances in meaning, plays on words, use of tenses, use of voice)? What stylistic choices does the author make (e.g. vocabulary, constructions, subordination)? How does the passage fit into the rest of the work in terms of characterization, plot, mood, etc.? Is it representative or unusual?


  • first Friday: have an author chosen
  • second Tuesday: have a passage chosen
  • third Monday: commentary completed

List of Authors

Listed below are some of the authors that you may choose from in selecting your passage. Most can be found on-line in Perseus Primary Text Index or in paper form in the Loeb Classical Library, green bound volumes in the 880's (* denotes most accesible authors).

Perseus includes the texts of many of the authors listed above in both Greek and English as well as an on-line Greek-English Lexicon and Morphological Analysis Tool. It also includes maps, plans, and images of Greek art, artifacts, and archaeological sites.

Commentaries and other works in printed form concerning these authors can be found through Cole On-Line. I would be happy to assist you in finding material on these authors.

Click here for up-to-date links about Greek Writers



Reference Works on the Ancient Greek World

  • Boardman, John, et al. The Oxford History of the Classical World. Oxford: Clarendon, 1986. Political, as well as social, cultural, and literary history.  938 Ox2
  • Bonnefoy, Yves, and Wendy Doniger, eds. Mythologies. 2 Vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.  Ref 291.13 M999
  • Easterling, P.E. and B.M.W. Knox, eds. The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. Vol. 1: Greek Literature. Cambridge, 1985.
  • Grant, Michael, ed. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome. 3 vols. Riverside, NJ: Scribner's, 1988. Covers all aspects of the ancient world with short, authoritative articles.  Ref 938 C499
  • **Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawforth, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd ed. Oxford, 1996. Brief, authoritative entries on nearly every aspect of the ancient world.  Ref 913.38 Ox2 1996
  • Leach, Maria, ed. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1949. Excellent; not limited to Greco-Roman world. Ref 398 F6
  • Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Women's Life in Greece and Rome. A Sourcebook in Translation. 2nd Ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1992. Greek and Roman documents.  305.420945 W842 1992
  • **Luce, T.J., ed. Ancient Writers: Greece and Rome, 2 vol. New York: Scribners, 1982. Includes biography of and criticism on most ancient authors, and a good starting bibliography.  Ref 928.8 An22
  • Morford, Mark, and Robert Lenardon. Classical Mythology. 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 1985. Useful compilation of material on each of the major gods and heroes of the Greco-Roman world. 292 M819c
  • Smyth, Herbert Weir. Greek Grammar. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956. 485 Sm9g
  • Snyder, Jane M. The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome. Carbondale: Southern Illinois, 1989.  880.99287 Sn92wo
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