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Kenneth Ellman reviews Bernard Knox, Norton Classical Literature

The Bernard Knox Norton Book of Classical Literature, Reviewed by Kenneth Ellman, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860. October 20, 2013.
Copyright Kenneth Ellman, 2013, All Rights Reserved.
I was hesitant to review this book since I assumed there must already be a very many such reviews. But in discussions with acquaintances I found that this Knox book is not as widely known and used as it should be. I purchased this book many years ago and my only regret is I have not read it more often. It should be for you a small one volume permanent collection and keepsake of your inheritance from peoples and civilizations not often read today, that being the human community of Ancient Greece and Rome. Perhaps this will encourage you to obtain and study the entire writings of those that appeal to you such as Plato Complete Works by Cooper from Hackett which of course includes the timeless and invaluable Socratic Dialogues in full.

How sad it is that the portrayal and learning many people have of Ancient civilization comes not from what those people have directly left us, but from movies, television and nonsense which show little of the intellectual struggle and human celebration and creations of those times. How easy it is to forget who we are and what we come from. This Knox Book is only an introduction and of course does not capture for you the large writings of those people who were very much like us. But if you have not studied ancient writings it will open a world of human life you may not have known existed. It is an introduction which hopefully will compel you to reach out and take the vast inheritance left by those authors, who thousands of years ago, like us today, ask questions, seek answers and put some of themselves to letters in an effort to reflect their minds and senses. The Knox Book is 860 pages and touches more than 60 different authors from those days. Bernard Knox was born November of 1914 in England and died as an American at the age of 95, in July of 2010 in Maryland. He was amongst many other things, the founding Director of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies. Professor Knox brought the combination of academic excellence and a lifetime of immersion in our world that included Combat Service in World War Two and a Silver Star amongst many other awards and experiences. He was a man who knew what we came from and what we had created. Prof. Knox clearly stated the consequences of rejection of the ancient accomplishments as he is reportedly quoted by the Washington Post in 1992 :

““There is a sort of general feeling among radicals that the whole of the Western tradition — and the Greeks are the heart of that tradition — is something that has to be repudiated,” “I feel appalled. God knows what the world would be like if we were all brought up on the stuff they’d like us to read. “

So this book edited by Bernard Knox is his selection from the translations of such persons as:
Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, Lucretius, Virgil, Livy, Ovid, Tacitus, Marcus Aurelius, and on and on and on. The authors are just men, like you and me. Some you will choose to remember and thank, others may not impress and you may discard. I normally do not like anthologies. I prefer to just possess the full and complete text of the author. Who doubts though that you must start somewhere and wonderful anthologies such as this Knox, can launch you on your excursion into your past. You would be very foolish not to expose yourself and your children to as much of the thoughts and ideas of such men as selected here. Kenneth Ellman, Box 18, Newton, New Jersey 07860.