Top 10 Ancient Books

The ancient classics still have a lot to teach to the modern age. These are the top ten old ancient books online that we feel are a must read.

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10. The Aeneid by Virgil (19 BC)

The Aeneid (Dover Thrift Editions)

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This epic ancient poem by Virgil is the tenth best on our list of ancient books online. Virgil tells of Aeneas, a legendary Trojan who traveled to Italy and became an ancestor to the Romans. Whilst the information supplied by Virgil is largely fictional, the narrative is a work of art tying the Romans to the Trojan legends.

9. Parallel Lives (Lives of the noble Greeks and Romans) by Plutarch

Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans

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This book is a set of biographies of the most famous men of Greek and Roman times. The book is carefully arranged to showcase both their moral failings and virtues. Studies show that it was quite possible that the book was written in the early part of the second century AD. Parallel Lives is both, fascinating and historically accurate. It serves as a source of information on the nobles and also the life and times of the Romans and Greeks.

8. Symposium by Xenophon

Xenophon's Symposium - Primary Source Edition

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The Symposium was composed by a Greek author Xenophon in the year 360BC. It takes 8th on this list of best old ancient books online. The book is a Socrates dialogue involving a few companions of the philosopher and the philosopher, Socrates, himself. The discussion centers on what each guest is most proud of. The answers are both paradoxical and playful. The major themes of this book are virtue, wisdom, desire and laughter.

7. Poems by Sappho (born c.612BC)

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Whilst most of the works of this Poetess have been destroyed, what is left is a stunning reminder of the literary genius of the Greeks. Sappho is one of the few known female poets of ancient times and certainly the only female featured in this list of top ten ancient books online. She makes it to this list because of her homoerotic sensuality, melody, reflective and yearning style of poetry. Her originality is 100%.

6. Art of Love by Ovid (2AD)

The Art of Love (Modern Library Classics)

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The Art of Love by Ovid is very insightful and delves into the intricacies of Roman lifestyle and love. Whilst the advice Ovid lays down in this book ranges from crass to classy, the basics of gentlemanly masculine and feminine relationship techniques and skills are well covered. These old ancient books (books 1-3) show how to find a woman, keep her and offers women advice on how to win and keep the love of a man. This is one of the best old ancient books online.

5. Phaedo by Plato (c. 385 – 380BC)

Plato: Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo (Hackett Classics)

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This is one of the best old ancient books regarded as such for its stunning dialogue in which Plato depicts the death of Socrates, his master. He does so in the most emotionally detached manner. The tale is told from the perspective of a student of Socrates, Phaedo of Elis narrating Socrates discussion on the nature of afterlife on the final day of his life before execution by hemlock. An Athenian jury had sentenced Socrates to death for not believing in the gods of the city and corrupting the city’s youth.

4. The Symposium by Plato


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Whilst the top 3 best old ancient books online on this list are poetry, the Symposium by Plato is Greek prose at it’s best. This dialogue about love involving the handsome Alcibiades who crashes a party is brilliantly written to show how ambiguous love is – beyond the definition of the greatest philosophers including Socrates and the author himself. This book is intentionally drunken and confusing.

3. Metamorphosis by Ovid

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Metamorphosis (meaning Books of Transformation) by Ovid is considered Ovid’s masterpiece and is 3rd on our best old ancient books online. This book comprises of 15 books and more than 250 myths. The poem tells us of a tale of the history of the world from creation down to the time of deification of Julius Caesar in a broad mixture of myth and history. Metamorphosis makes it to this compilation of the best old ancient books for the vast number of authors it has inspired till this day such as Chaucer, Boccaccio, Dante and Shakespeare.

2. Odyssey by Homer

The Odyssey

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This is the other of two major ancient Greek classic poems attributed to Homer. The Odyssey is the second oldest of ancient books or works of western literature. The Iliad is the oldest. The Odyssey is the tale of a Greek hero Odysseus and his trip back home after the fall of the Greek kingdom, Troy. This ten-year journey back to Ithaca raises the assumption of his death and leads to unruly suitors courting Penelope (Odysseus’s wife), seeking her hand in marriage.

1. The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad

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Although the theme of this book is war, the underlying tale is the wrath of Achilles. Homer especially crafts each death to give us an insight into the Greek gods and their favoritism. They mourn their favorites and show support and solidarity to them during their acts. Homer takes us deep into the mind and life of an unstable killing machine. Yet, even Achilles teaches us how we can act with dignity.

Like most authors over the ages discovered, the ancient books had a great deal of insight into philosophy, love, and life. These ten old ancient books have got it all. Read and comment. We are waiting.

Post Author: SparkInList Staff

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