Best classical literature for children?

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Best classical literature for children?

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Okt. 8, 2016, 12:01pm

Okay, what Greek or Roman literature can be enjoyed by children. I'd prefer original versions, but "for children" versions are also worth mentioning. (There's a pretty good Iliad for children.)

What I really want is a good Herodotus for children. But I haven't found it.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 12:20pm

Okt. 8, 2016, 12:29pm

Oh, and when you say "children", is there any particular age you have in mind? After all, what can be enjoyed by a six-year-old would probably not be enjoyed by an 11-year-old, and vice versa.

Okt. 8, 2016, 12:29pm

Yeah, I've got another Colum book, and he's going to level-test it later. It was way above his level at 8.

Okt. 8, 2016, 12:37pm

Ah. My son is 10.

Okt. 8, 2016, 12:38pm

Roger Lancelyn Green wrote a number of books for younger readers based on Roman and Greek legends.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 12:57pm

I loved Gustav Schwab's retellings of ancient myth (and Greek and Roman epics). First read them at about eight, last time at about thirty. The German has a lovely archaic flavour, I hope English translations retain it.

Okt. 8, 2016, 1:00pm

I'm really looking for original Greek literature, though. Colum, for example, has a reworking of the Jason story, but the actual Argonautica is really unreadable by children. Aesop is at the other end, mostly.

I'm thinking some of Plutarch's lives might work. Individual stories from Herodotus, definitely, but much would have to be skipped or glossed.

Okt. 8, 2016, 1:05pm

Huh. So, basically simplified and presumably bowdlerised versions? I'd imagine Victorians might have come up with some.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 1:25pm

Well, the best thing would be things that work as is. Aesop works, but it's not the sort of thing I'm looking for. I think the Odyssey might work—stuff will go over his head, but not all. Someone I know on Twitter said her father read her the Odyssey at that age anyway. Big hunks of Herodotus work as is, but it can't be read page-by-page--heck, that's a struggle for undergrads. Too much is assumed, and, absent massive glossing, as boring as the most boring, name-laden narrative in the Hebrew Bible.

After that? I'm not sure. Looking at my shelf, I can only really see Aelian, but that's hardly in the top five tiers. Maybe Plutarch? It's hard to know unless I read it to myself again, thinking about how it would go reading it to Liam.

Okt. 8, 2016, 1:35pm

Someone suggested Lucian might work. It might. I'd have to look. We may visit Abonoteichos, which would certainly call for his mini-bio of Alexander.

Okt. 8, 2016, 1:36pm

>3 lilithcat: Too true. 'Chwedlau rhyfeddol Gwlad Groeg', the Welsh version of Gods, men & monsters from the Greek myths by Michael Gibson was too much for my #1 when she was aged about six years old. But my #2, aged twelve, gave it up as being too childish in Mrs C's purge of her bookshelves earlier today.

Gibson seemed reasonably true to the originals to my layman's eyes, but might be too 'reworked' for Tim's classicist purposes.

Okt. 8, 2016, 1:38pm

I wonder if there are any plays. Medea might scare him to bits, but it's simple in other ways. We've never read a play out loud together. Someone suggested Aristophanes, but, no way, I think.

Okt. 8, 2016, 2:46pm

>13 timspalding:

Aristophanes can get a bit raunchy for a 10-year-old. And Medea isn't the only tragedy that might be a bit much. You may not want to explain Oedipus' incest, or read about Astyanax being thrown from the walls of Troy.

But maybe The Persians?

Okt. 8, 2016, 4:43pm

>14 lilithcat:

My wife nixed Medea. She's probably right. The Persians, maybe, since we'll be doing The Persian War a bit. At least the famous description of Salamis.

Okt. 8, 2016, 4:56pm

Greek: Xenophon, Theophrastus
Roman: Ovid, Horace's satires, Plautus and Terence

Some excisions necessary according to age, of course. Re: Aristophanes, not too much need be taken out of The Clouds.

I don't know whether you use audiobooks, but Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) has done splendid readings of the Fitzgerald translations of Homer.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 5:05pm

>17 timspalding:

I was wondering if the Characters would interest him. But I feel like Xenophon is too boring. (I'm bored by him, for starters.)

Okt. 8, 2016, 5:41pm

The most important part of any of this would be for him to have it introduced by someone excited by it. If you are bored by it, there's not much chance of getting him interested.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 5:59pm

You want it in English I assume, not Latin?

We did Lysistrata at our Gymnasium when I was 13, that was fun. Not the straight text though, an adaptation. Depends how far he is with the birds and the bees.

I read the Odyssey last year for the first time proper. It took me 25y to get to it. It could work, it helped me when I read several translations of the first chapters side by side so I could see the richness of the text.

I feel texts like these need introductions by people who are passionate about them, perhaps reading to the kid with some extra explanations for the first few chapters. Point some interesting tricks out. Give context. Reference modern retellings and references.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 8, 2016, 9:24pm

what's wrong with the metamorphoses? nothing much worse in there than grimm's tales.

I had Aesop, some of Roger Lancelyn Green's greek and norse myths and selections from the Metamorphoses when i was a kid (about 6 or so) and found them entertaining then, and many years later a useful background when i started reading more 'literary' works.

Edit: I should specify Ovid here, not Apuleius :p

Okt. 9, 2016, 11:54am

Metamorphoses was the first text I gave my eldest daughter after she finished Wheelock. I don't recall that there was anything I found it necessary to skip. Some stories veered close to the line, but the verbal handling is brief and not very explicit; Ovid is not Catullus. Later we did read Catullus, which required excising about 20% of the poems, though of course doing so only "saves in fact the trouble of an index" if the kid is inclined to go back and seek them out.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 12, 2016, 9:55pm

What about Homer? Both Homer and Vergil were school texts for a millenium or more. The gory bits are not outside a boy's imagination (though the hanging of the alienated maidservants in the Odyssey might draw some comment for unfairness). Great audio-book material (Sir Ian McKellen did a notable unabridged Penguin Odyssey). Or, much shorter, both the Ilias Latina (just out in translation, I believe, a retellling of the Iliad in 1100 lines) and Statius' Achilleid (an unfinished epic that covers the boyhood of Achilles in its short extant comdition) were popular medieval schoolbooks, and were chosen to appeal to boys.

Okt. 12, 2016, 2:50pm

>17 timspalding: Xenophon boring? Not the great adventure story, the Anabasis, surely?

Okt. 12, 2016, 3:03pm

Another Greek work: Euripides' Cyclops, after he's read the Cyclops episode in the Odyssey or in a similar source. Euripides' satyr play plays with Homer, so he'd want to notice that for himself. And Aristophanes' Frogs would be fun.

Okt. 12, 2016, 5:44pm

Huh. You know, I know I don't think I've read the Cyclops! I never took a Euripides-specific course, and that wasn't on the overall reading list. I'll definitely check it out.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 12, 2016, 9:49pm

>25 timspalding: Seaforth's Oxford Red commentary (the last in the series) is good, but it's long been used as a first Greek text for school pupils and there are two commentaries for schools: a helpful Pitt Press one by Simmons and Timberlake and a simplified first text by Sidgwick (Scenes from Cyclops). There's also Collard's great new Aris & Phillips commentary, Cyclops and Major Fragments of Greek Satyric Drama to supplement Seaforth for grownups.

Bearbeitet: Okt. 23, 2016, 9:09am

Tim, I've just skimmed through the posts so excuse my suggestion if it's not what you're looking for. When my niece was four I started The Orchard Book of Greek Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean. They are abridged and written for children and make a wonderful start with the Ancient Greek Myths. However, I can't recommend the counterpart Roman Myths.

You can start with this and work further with the stories in English translation. I expanded the Perseus story and went towards explaining constellations and stars.

Okt. 23, 2016, 4:02pm

In the line of retellings for children, Hawthorne's Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales are worth a look.

Okt. 23, 2016, 4:08pm

>27 ironjaw: >28 ndrose:

Thanks. I'll look out for them. We did get Tanglewood Tales and I wasn't that impressed. He's become something of a stickler for the "right" versions--no corner-cutting :)