The Odyssey

“No fine, greater gift in the world than that…

when man and woman possess their home, two minds,

two hearts that work as one.” (Book VI 200-202)


“Sinews no longer bind the flesh and bones together –

the fire in all its fury burns the body down to ashes

once life slips from the white bones, and the spirit,

rustling, flitters away… flown like a dream.” (Book XI 250-253)


“Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,

our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.

So long as the gods grant him power, spring in his knees,

he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.

But then, when the happy gods must bring on the long hard times,

bear then he must, against his will, and steel his heart.

Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,

turn as the days turn…

as the father of men and gods makes each day dawn.” (Book XVII 150-158)


“Woman – your words, they cut me to the core!

Who could move my bed? …

Not a man on earth, not even at peak strength,

would find it easy to prise it up and shift it, no,

a great sign, a hallmark lies in its construction.

I know, I built it myself – no one else…

There was a branching olive-tree inside our court,

grown to its full prime, the bole like a column, thickset.

Around it I built my bedroom…

There’s our secret sign, I tell you, our life story!”

(Book XXIII 205-206, 210-216, 227)


“Son of old Laertes –

mastermind – what a fine, faithful wife you won!

What good sense resided in your Penelope –

how well Icarius’ daughter remembered you,

Odysseus, the man she married once!

The fame of her great virtue will never die.

The immortal gods will lift a song for all mankind,

a glorious song in praise of self-possessed Penelope.” (Book XXIV 211-218)


Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 1999.


The Illiad

“O my son, my sorrow, why did I ever bear you?

All I bore was doom…

Would to god you could linger by your ships

without a grief in the world, without a torment!

Doomed to a short life, you have so little time.

And not only short, now, but filled with heartbreak too,

more than all other men alive – doomed twice over.

Ah to a cruel fate I bore you in our halls!” (Book I 492-499)


“Enough of this madness – striving with the gods.

We are not of the same breed, we never will be,

the deathless gods and men who walk the earth.” (Book V 507-509)


“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men.

Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth,

now the living timber bursts with the new buds

and spring comes round again. And so with men:

as one generation comes to life, another dies away.” (Book VI 171-175)


“… one day let them say, ‘He is a better man than his father!'” (Book VI, 571)


“And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it,

neither brave man nor coward, I tell you –

it’s born with us the day that we are born.” (Book VI 582-584)


“It’s wrong to have such an iron, ruthless heart.

Even the gods themselves can bend and change,

and theirs is the greater power, honor, strength.” (Book IX 602-604)


“We do have Prayers, you know, Prayers for forgiveness,

daughters of mighty Zeus… and they limp and halt,

they’re all wrinkled, drawn, they squint to the side,

can’t look you in the eyes, and always bent on duty,

trudging after Ruin, maddening, blinding Ruin.” (Book IX 609-613)


“There is nothing alive more agonized than man

of all that breathe and crawl across the earth.” (Book XVII 515-516)


“If only strife could die from the lives of gods and men

and anger that drives the sanest man to flare in outrage –

bitter gall, sweeter than dripping streams on honey,

that swarms in people’s chests and blinds like smoke” (Book XVIII 126-129)


“… this alien earth I stride

will hold me down at last.” (Book XVIII 386-387)


“I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before –

I put to my lips the hands of the man who killed my son.” (Book XXIV 590-591)


“There are two great jars that stand on the floor of Zeus’s halls

and hold his gifts, our miseries one, the other blessings.

When Zeus who loves the lightning mixes gifts for a man,

now he meets with misfortune, now good times in turn.” (Book XXIV 615-618)


Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 1990.


The Reading List : Contemporary

Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924)

  • The State and Revolution

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

  • Remembrance of Things Past

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

  • The Problems of Philosophy
  • The Analysis of the Mind
  • An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth
  • Human Knowledge; Its Scope and Limits

Charles Peguy (1873-1914)

  • The Mystery of the Holy Innocents
  • The Portal of the Mystery of Hope

Willa Cather (1873-1947)

  • O Pioneers!
  • My Antonia
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Shadows on the Rock

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

  • Orthodoxy
  • The Everlasting Man
  • The Complete Father Brown Stories
  • Essays
  • St. Francis of Assisi
  • St. Thomas Aquinas

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

  • Book of Hours

Henri Gheon (1875-1944)

  • Plays

Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

  • The Magic Mountain
  • Joseph and His Brothers
  • Buddenbrooks
  • Death in Venice and Other Stories

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

  • The Meaning of Relativity
  • On the Method of Theoretical Physics
  • The Evolution of Physics

James Joyce (1882-1941)

  • The Dubliners
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Ulysses

Sigrid Undset (1882-1949)

  • Kristin Lavransdatter
  • Saint Catherine of Siena

Jacques Maritain (1882-1973)

  • Works

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

  • The Trial
  • The Castle

Francois Mauriac (1885-1970)

  • Works

Romano Guardini (1885-1968)

  • Works

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

  • Works

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970)

  • Religion and the Rise of Western Culture
  • The Formation of Christendom
  • The Historic Reality of Christian Culture

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)

  • A Study of History
  • Civilization on Trial

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)

  • Works

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977)

  • Works

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940)

  • Master and Margarita

St. Edith Stein (1891-1942)

  • Works

Henri de Lubac (1896-1991)

  • Works

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

  • Works

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

  • Works

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)

  • Works

Graham Greene (1904-1991)

  • The Power and the Glory
  • The End of the Affair

Joseph Pieper (1904-1997)

  • Works

Vasily Grossman (1905-1964)

  • Life and Fate

Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

  • Nausea
  • No Exit
  • Being and Nothingness

Vatican II Documents

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)

  • Works

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

  • The Seven Storey Mountain

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  • The First Circle
  • Cancer Ward
  • The Gulag Archipelago

St. John Paul II (1920-2005)

  • Works

Shusaku Endo (1923-1996)

  • Silence

Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)

  • Works

Pope Benedict XVI (1927-)

  • Works

Alasdair MacIntyre (1929-)

  • Works

To be continued…

The Reading List : The Moderns

Voltaire (1694-1778)

  • Letters on the English
  • Candide
  • Philosophical Dictionary

Henry Fielding (1707-1754)

  • Joseph Andrews
  • Tom Jones

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

  • The Vanity of Human Wishes
  • Dictionary
  • Resselas
  • The Lives of the Poets

David Hume (1711-1776)

  • Treatise of Human Nature
  • Essays of Moral and Political
  • An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

  • On the Origin of Inequality
  • On Political Economy
  • Emile
  • The Social Contract

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)

  • Tristram Shandy
  • A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

Adam Smith (1723-1790)

  • The Theory of the Moral Sentiments
  • Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • Critique of Practical Reason
  • The Science of Right
  • Critique of Judgement
  • Perpetual Peace

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

  • Works

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Autobiography

James Boswell (1740-1795)

  • Journals
  • Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794)

  • Elements of Chemistry

John Jay (1745-1829), James Madison (1751-1836), Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), et al.

  • Federalist Papers
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Constitution of the United States
  • Declaration of Independence

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

  • Introduction of the Principles of Morals and Legislation
  • Theory of Fictions

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

  • Works

Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830)

  • Analytical Theory of Heat

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

  • Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Philosophy of Right
  • Lectures on the Philosophy of History

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

  • Poems

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

  • Poems
  • Biographia Literaria

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

  • Works

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831)

  • On War

Stendhal (1783-1842)

  • The Red and the Black
  • The Charterhouse of Parma
  • On Love

Lord Byron (1788-1860)

  • Don Juan

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

  • Studies in Pessimism

Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

  • Chemical History of a Candle
  • Experimental Researches in Electricity

Charles Lyell (1797-1867)

  • Principles of Geology

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

  • The Positive Philosophy

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

  • Works

Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)

  • Pere Goriot
  • Eugenie Grandet

St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

  • Works

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)

  • The Count of Monte Cristo

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  • Representative Men
  • Essays
  • Journal

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

  • The Scarlet Letter

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)

  • Works

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

  • Democracy in America

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

  • A System of Logic
  • On Liberty
  • Representative Government
  • Utilitarianism
  • The Subjection of Women
  • Autobiography

Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852)

  • Stories
  • The Government Inspector
  • Dead Souls

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

  • The Origin of Species
  • The Descent of Man
  • Autobiography

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

  • Works

Soren Kierekegaard (1813-1855)

  • Works

Claude Bernard (1813-1878)

  • Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

  • Civil Disobedience
  • Walden

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

  • Capital
  • Communist Manifesto

George Eliot (1819-1880)

  • Adam Bede
  • Middlemarch

 Herman Melville (1819-1891)

  • Moby Dick
  • Billy Budd

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

  • Works

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

  • Madame Bovary
  • Three Stories

Francis Parkman (1823-1893)

  • The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky-Mountain Life
  • France and England in North America

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

  • Plays

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

  • Works

First Vatican Council

St. Pius X (1835-1914)

  • Works

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Mysterious Stranger

William James (1842-1910)

  • The Principles of Psychology
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Pragmatism
  • Essays in Radical Empiricism

Henry James (1843-1916)

  • The American
  • The Ambassadors

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

  • Poems

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • The Genealogy of Morals
  • The Will to Power

Jules Henri Poincare (1854-1912)

  • Science and Hypothesis
  • Science and Method

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

  • The Interpretation of Dreams
  • Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • Civilization and Its Discontents
  • New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

  • Plays

Max Planck (1858-1947)

  • Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory
  • Where is Science Going?
  • Scientific Autobiography

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)

  • Works

Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

  • Time and Free Will
  • Matter and Memory
  • Creative Evolution
  • The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

John Dewey (1859-1952)

  • How We Think
  • Democracy and Education
  • Experience and Nature
  • Logic, the Theory of Inquiry

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

  • Works

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

  • An Introduction to Mathematics
  • Science and the Modern World
  • The Aims of Education and Other Essays
  • Adventures of Ideas

George Santayana (1863-1952)

  • The Life of Reason
  • Skepticism and Animal Faith
  • Persons and Places

Paul Claudel (1868-1955)

  • Works

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

  • Works

The Reading List : The Early Moderns

John Calvin (1509-1564)

  • Institutes of the Christian Religion

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

  • Works

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

  • Essays

William Gilbert (1540-1603)

  • On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

  • Works

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)

  • Don Quixote

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599)

  • Prothalamion
  • The Faerie Queen

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

  • Essays
  • Advancement of Learning
  • Novum Organum
  • New Atlantis

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

  • Works

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

  • The Starry Messenger
  • Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

  • Works

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

  • Epitome of Copernican Astronomy
  • Concerning the Harmonies of the World

John Donne (1572-1631)

  • Works

William Harvey (1578-1657)

  • On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals
  • On the Circulation of the Blood
  • On the Generation of Animals

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

  • The Leviathan

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

  • Rules for the Direction of the Mind
  • Discourse on Method
  • Geometry
  • Meditations on First Philosophy

St. Marie de l’Incarnation (1599-1672)

  • Works

Pedro Calderon (1600-1681)

  • Works

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)

  • Works

John Milton (1608-1674)

  • Works

Moliere (1622-1673)

  • Comedies

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

  • The Provincial Letters
  • Pensees
  • Scientific treatises

Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (1627-1704)

  • Works

Christian Huygens (1629-1695)

  • Treatise on Light

Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677)

  • Ethics

John Locke (1632-1704)

  • Letter Concerning Toleration
  • Two Treatises on Government
  • Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Thoughts Concerning Education

Jesuit Relations

Jean Baptiste Racine (1639-1699)

  • Tragedies

Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

  • Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
  • Optics

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716)

  • Discourse on Metaphysics
  • New Essays Concerning Human Understanding
  • Monadology

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)

  • Robinson Crusoe

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

  • A Tale of a Tub
  • Journal to Stella
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • A Modest Proposal

William Congreve (1670-1729)

  • The Way of the World

George Berkeley (1685-1753)

  • Principles of Human Knowledge

Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

  • Essay on Criticism
  • Rape of the Lock
  • Essay on Man

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Motesquieu (1689-1755)

  • Persian Letters
  • Spirit of Laws

The Reading List : The Middle Ages


St. Anselm (c. 1033-1109)

  • Works

Abbot Suger (c. 1081-1151)

  • On the Abbey Church of St. Denis and Its Art Treasures

Hugh of Victor (c. 1096-1141)

  • Works

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

  • Works

Cantar de Mio Cid

St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226)

  • Works

The Song of Roland (12th c.)

The Nibelungenlied (13th c.)

St. Bonaventure (c. 1221-1274)

  • Works

Jean de Joinville (1224-1317)

  • Life of Saint Louis

The Saga of Burnt Njal

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274)

  • Works

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

  • Works

Petrarch (1304-1374)

  • Works

Boccaccio (1313-1375)

  • Works

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400)

  • Works

St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

  • Works

Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472)

  • Works

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

  • Diaries

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

  • Notebooks

Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494)

  • Works

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

  • The Prince
  • Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy

Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1469-1536)

  • The Praise of Folly

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

  • On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

St. Thomas More (c. 1478-1535)

  • Utopia

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

  • Three Treatises
  • Table-Talk

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

  • Works

Francois Rabelais (c. 1495-1553)

  • Gargantua and Pantagruel

The Reading List : The Early Christians

The New Testament

St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-107)

  • Letters

St. Irenaeus (c. 130-202)

  • Works

Tertullian (c. 160-220)

  • Works

Origen (c. 184-253)

  • Works

Eusebius (c. 260-339)

  • Church History

St. Athanasius (c. 296-373)

  • Works

St. Basil (c. 329-379)

  • Works

St. Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329-389)

  • Works

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330-395)

  • Works

St. Ambrose (c. 340-397)

  • Works

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407)

  • Works

St. Jerome (c. 347-420)

  • Works

Prudentius (c. 348-405)

  • Poems

St. Augustine (354-430)

  • Works

St. Leo the Great (400-461)

  • Works

Boethius (c. 480-525)

  • Works

St. Benedict (c. 480-543)

  • The Rule of St. Benedict

St. Gregory the Great (c. 540-604)

  • Works

St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662)

  • Works

St. John of Damascus (c. 675-749)

  • Works