Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Currently Reading: January 2012

I am currently reading the following titles this month for either work, leisure, or both. Since I teach at a classical school, the line is often rather fuzzy. 

Though I technically began reading it last Fall, I am in the middle of reading The Peloponnesian War, by the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides. I purchased Strasser's The Landmark Thucydides edition, which features informative appendices written by professors of classics and history, as well as explanatory notes and detailed maps. The translation is surprisingly readable and I am enjoying a first-hand account of an ancient war that marked the end of one era of classical Greece and the rise of a new. I was inspired by reading selections with my ninth graders and by reading Victor Davis Hanson's books Carnage and Culture and The Soul of Battle.

For work, I am reading selections from Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, one of the most comprehensive and systematic tomes of theology and philosophy produced by the Medieval Scholastics. Aquinas is attempting to synthesize his Christianity with the newly re-discovered Aristotelian  philosophy. While I disagree with this father of modern Roman Catholic theology on may issues, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest minds in intellectual history. The selections my 10th graders and I are reading cover his views on the Cardinal and Theological Virtues, as well as Natural Law.

My ninth grade humanities class is currently working through Plato's Republic. We read Euthyphro, The Apology, and Crito prior, so this is not their first attempt at Plato's dialogues. I really enjoy the Hackett Press edition and the Grube translation. It is very readable and the explanatory notes in the back, as well as the chapter summaries are very helpful.

At the same time, I am reading Melville's Billy Budd with several colleagues at Providence. I was a little apprehensive at first due to a bad experience with Moby Dick in junior high, but either my tastes have improved or his magnum opus is not typical of all his other work.

Finally, I have started re-reading Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse (free pdf download) again. I read it last year with my tenth grade class and they enjoyed it enough that I decided to make it an annual event. So now, on Fridays, we read and discuss a chapter from this great poem about King Alfred and his fight against the Danes.

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