Ancient Philosophy

In this course, we look at ancient Greek and Roman philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the early Christian era. Representative figures include the Pre-Socratics, Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics, Plotinus, and St. Augustine.

2018 Fall syllabus

Class Schedule

(updated: 8/22/2018)

Aug. 20, Introduction
Aug. 22, Introduction to the Presocratics
Aug. 24, The Milesians
Aug. 27, Heraclitus
Aug. 29, Parmenides
Aug. 31, Anaxagoras
Sep. 5, Atomists
Sep. 7, Sophists
Sep. 10, Euthyphro – presentation: Hugo Rodriguez
Sep 12, Apology
Sep 14, Timaeus – presentation: Jared Ludwig
Sep 17–21, Phaedo
Sep 24, Republic I
Sep 26, Republic IV
Sep 28, Republic VI, VII
Oct 1, Overview
Oct 3, Aristotle’s criticism of Plato
Oct 5, Categories
Oct 8, Matter and form
Oct 10, The four causes
Oct 12, The unmoved mover
Oct 15–17, The soul
Oct 19, Overview
Oct 22, Lucretius – presentation: Eric Frieb
Oc 24, Epicureanism
Oct 26–29, Stoicism: Fate
Nov 2, Stoicism: Ethics
Nov 5, Pyrrho
Nov 7, Sextus Empiricus
Nov 12, Philo of Alexandria – presentation: Johnnatan Ibarra Juarez
Nov 14–19, Plotinus
Nov 29, Augustine and Plato
Nov 28, Augustine on Skepticism
Nov 30, Augustine on Evil – presentation: Cesar Gomez
Dec 3, Augustine on Free Will


First paper prompt (due: September 12)


A list of books, related to the course material, available in the library. These are by no means mandatory readings, but might help with a deeper understanding of the thinkers we discuss in class.

(updated: 8/22/2018)


William Guthrie. A History of Greek Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962–81. 6 vols., from the Presocratics to Aristotle.

Terence Irwin. Classical Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Christopher Shields. Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction. London: Routledge, 2012. A general introduction to Ancient Greek philosophy, focusing on arguments. It also contains a very good bibliography.

Presocratic texts

Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, eds. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1903. Not very user-friendly (Greek/German bilingual), but it is the standard edition of the Presocratics. Available online.

G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven, and M. Schofield. The Presocratic Philosophers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Call #: 182 K59 1983.

Introduction to the Presocratics

Jonathan Barnes. The Presocratic Philosophers. London: Routledge, 1982. Call #: 182 B261.

John Burnet. Early Greek Philosophy. London: A&C Black, 1908. Call #: 182 B964.

Charles H. Kahn and Joe McCoy, eds. Early Greek Philosophy. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2013. (e-book access.)

Catherine Rowett. Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Call #: 182 O81p.

Works on specific Presocratic authors

Charles H. Kahn. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960. Call #: 113 K12.

Charles H. Kahn. The Art and Thought of Heraclitus: An Edition of the Fragments with Translation and Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Call #: 182.4 K12.


A. E. Taylor, Plato: The Man and His Works. Dover Books, 2011 (reprint)