The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence begins.
This is an optimistic class: we know there are unsavory parts to the classics, no matter what civilization they come from, no matter how ancient or contemporary, how conventional or insurrectionary. So, we'll simply become skilled readers, always keeping ourselves ready to discover signs of intelligence, looking for the best in them and to make the best use of them in living our solitary, communal, and mortal lives.
Discovery awaits: there's nothing new under the sun. "A great deal of time must often pass in order for the contours of the truth , in art as in history, to be revealed." Daniel Mendelsohn NYRB 9.29.11
So, what of the present moment, which is idolized? It passes, we feel it, and it is of little concern. Ditto for the future as such.
Qualities of the best participant: patience, persistence of attention, freedom form the hyperlinks of consciousness (at least during discussion).
First year Books: from about the -23rd century to about the -2nd century. All the most ancient, in rough chronological order. Almost 60 works of varying lengths and types
1a The most ancient and best narratives: adventure stories, tales, and histories (attested and legendary):
- Epic of Gilgamesh (Sumerian)
- Vyasa - Mahabharata (Indian)
- Homer - Illiad, Odyssey
- Apollonius of Rhodes - Argonautica
- Aeschylus - The Oresteia
- Sophocles - Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
- Euripides - Bacchae, Medea
- Aristophanes - Clouds, Birds, Frogs
- Herodotus - Histories
- Spring and Autumn Annals (Chinese)
- Thucydides - Peloponnesian War
- Valmiki - Ramayana (Indian)
- Sima Qian - Grand Scribe's Records (Chinese)