Classics Reading List

For prospective students

Classics at Cambridge involves the study of philosophy, history, art and archaeology, and linguistics as well as of the Greek and Latin languages and literature. To get an impression of what the advantages are of such integrated study, take a look at Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 1995).

One of the best ways of discovering about the wider world of Classics is to read Omnibus, the journal produced twice a year by the Classical Association for anyone interested in the ancient world and its reception. Every issue contains a dozen or so short articles on aspects of Classics, most written by those who teach in universities. And it is free! 

A final tip: in school, especially if you study the texts in the original Latin and/ or ancient Greek, you might only get presented with bits and pieces of a text. We recommend that you make a point of always reading the entire text in an English translation.

For offer holders

Your ability to take advantage of the academic possibilities Cambridge offers you will be much increased if you do some basic orientation before you come to Cambridge. This is particularly true at King’s, where we are impatient to get on with the amazing things one can dig out of Latin and Greek texts - but one can only begin digging once one has read those texts. So try to get some of the set texts under your belt, and begin to explore the sorts of things that scholars do with them. A good place to start (in translation or in the original) are Homer’s Iliad and/ or Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Euripides, Medea and Ovid, The Art of Love/ Ars Amatoria (at the moment the first set text on the Latin side).

In addition, try to get to know the different aspects of our field. There are a lot of resources freely available on the web (links below). Check out:

  • The Perseus Project: it features many Greek and Latin texts, both in translation and in the original, as well as other resources.
  • The podcast series ‘Ancient Greece Declassified’.
  • The YouTube channel Kings and Generals: while perhaps a bit narrowly focused on high politics, it offers a lot of material not just, or even primarily on Greece and Rome, but the ancient Mediterranean and Near East more generally.

If you have access to a library, try to sample some of the following for basic orientation (but they can also wait until you have arrived at Cambridge):

For ancient philosophy:

  • Julia Annas, Ancient Philosophy. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000).

For Greek history:

  • Robin Osborne, Greek History: the Basics (Routledge, 2013)
  • For insights into late-republican Rome and the Augustan period (our focus in Part IA):
  • Kathryn Tempest, Brutus: The Noble Conspirator (Yale University Press, 2017).
  • Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Augustan Rome (Bloomsbury, 2018).

For Greek and Roman art:

  • Robin Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classical Art: From Greece to Rome (Oxford University Press, 2001)

For Linguistic:

  • P. H. Matthews, Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003). [This is a general introduction to the scientific study of language, not specifically focused on the ancient world – but it should give you a good idea what linguistics is all about.]
  • James Clackson Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds (Cambridge, 2015)


For more information, please consult the Faculty of Classics website. The Faculty also has a page for summer schools for offer holders - see the links below.

All the information and documents you need if you've already been accepted for an undergraduate place at King's.
You are strongly advised to read these documents which form part of the terms of admission referred to in your offer letter.

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