This course – on reading and discussing literary and philosophical texts on love and friendship from Greek and Roman antiquity –  has three basic objectives:

  1. I wish to open a big candy box of fascinating texts on love and friendship and have you dip into it to select a few delicious treats for yourself.
  2. I wish to refine your – and my – idea of what I mean when I say “love” or “friendship” by trying to make sense of this through not always very easy texts and asking such basic questions as:
    1. How did the authors of our texts present – and think about – inter-human relationships?
    2. What were the conceptions of love and friendship in antiquity?
    3. Do these conceptions differ between individual authors or texts; between Greeks and Romans; between philosophers and poets?
    4. Are they different from ours? In which respects?
    5. What impact have differences of conceptions on the (literary) nature of texts? Or, the other way round, do literary features, such as genre, influence the choice of conceptions to be represented?
    6. Can we identify political, cultural, or literary agenda that inform or change conceptions of love and friendship and the way they are presented?
  3. I wish to give you an opportunity to develop and pursue a research project on the subject of the course. This project can be either thematic or based on a particular text. In the first half of the course you will be looking for a suitable theme and write an outline of what you are going to do (which will be the basis of the mid-term grade). In the second half you will work this out into a substantial research essay.


Plato on Love: Lysis, Symposium, Phaedrus, Alcibiades, with Selections from Republic and Laws, ed. by C. D. C. Reeve. Indianapolis : Hackett, 2006.

Seneca, Phaedra (transl. F. Ahl). Itahaca : Cornell University Press, 1986.

Euripides, Medea and Other Plays (transl. J. Morwood). Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998 (Oxford World’s Classics).

M. L. West, Greek Lyric Poetry. The Poems and Fragments of the Greek Iambic, Elegiac and Melic Poets (Excluding Pindar and Bacchylides) Down to 450 B.C. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999 (Oxford World’s Classics).

J. Booth / G. Lee, Catullus to Ovid: Reading Latin Love Elegy. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, rev. ed. 1999.

Ovid, Metamorphoses (transl. A. D. Melville). Oxford : Oxford University Press 1998 (Oxford World’s Classics).

Petronius, The Satyricon (transl. P. G. Walsh). Oxford : Oxford University Press 1999 (Oxford World’s Classics).

A course packet with these books is offered by the University Bookstore.

For Vergil we will use the translation by Dryden which can be freely accessed on the internet (see, for example,; those who prefer a book instead can get themselves Virgil, The Aeneid (transl. J. Dryden), Ware : Wordsworth 1997; ISBN 1853267775).

For Aristotle we will use the translation of the Nicomachean Ethics by W. D. Ross that is available free on the internet:; book version published with (Lawrence, 2005), ISBN 1420926004.

All other texts will be accessible via Blackboard


Useful but unfortunately a bit expensive is: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII and IX. Translated with a Commentary by Michael Pakaluk, Clarendon Press: Oxford 1998 (pbk. c. 40 Euro; ISBN 0198751044).

Another nice edition to have: is Greek Epigrams, ed./transl. J. W. Mackail, Cirencester : The Echo Library: 2006 (ISBN 1406805157).