Great Books 101: Ancient to Medieval

by Larry P. Arnn Author

The word “literature” comes from the Latin word that means writing. Writing is akin to reason and speech, which are distinctively human gifts: they distinguish us from other animals on earth. The phenomenon of literature is essentially human. A letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail, written on May 12, 1780, encapsulates this course on the Great Books. Adams writes that his task is to make a revolution and to be a statesman for the sake of something beyond himself, and to which he must be obedient, which is summed up in the phrase found in the Declaration of Independence: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Likewise, investing the time and effort in reading great literature prepares us for something beyond ourselves. Great literature invites us to think about those times and places when our honor will be tested, and when our souls will be revealed for what they are.

Additional Details

Resource Type
online class
Print Status
In Print
Suggested Grades
9th - 12th
Hillsdale College


  • 1 Literature and Liberal Arts at Hillsdale
  • 2 Homer, The Iliad
  • 3 Homer, The Odyssey
  • 4 Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
  • 5 Virgil, The Aeneid
  • 6 The David Story: 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings ch 1 & 2
  • 7 The Book of Job
  • 8 Saint Augustine, The Confessions
  • 9 Dante, Inferno
  • 10 Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
  • 11 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

User Reviews

Add a Review

You'll need to log in to your account before leaving a review. Don't have an account? You can sign up for free!

Report a problem with this resource