Kahlil Gibran, The Divine World (1923), Illustration for The Prophet, Charcoal.
After Shakespeare and Laozi, Kahlil Gibran is the highest selling poet ever, largely thanks to The Prophet, a set of 26 prose poems.
Anselm Feuerbach’s depiction of Medea, circa 1870: the play is particularly cogent today in the context of the #MeToo movement’s assault on patriarchal power.
Euripides’ dismissal by some as a misogynist sits uncomfortably alongside his complex and sympathetic female characters.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1555. Rosemary Dobson addressed the painting in her poem Painter of Antwerp.
Across her long career, Dobson was celebrated as a poet who could take the reader beyond the immediate image to another insight.
A graffiti portrait of Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World.
A lack of respect for history, a population conditioned to consume goods at breakneck pace, and pacification of individuals via an entertainment culture: parts of Huxley's novel strikingly resemble our own world.
Gregory Peck and Harper Lee on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird.
To Kill a Mockingbird is no sermon. Its lessons are presented in effortless style, tackling the complexity of race issues with startling clarity and a strong sense of reality.
Kaya Scodelario as Catherine Earnshaw in the 2011 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
Film 4 and UK Film Council/IMDB
This week is the 200th anniversary of Emily Bronte's birth. If reading Wuthering Heights - her only published novel - feels like a suspension in a state of waking nightmare, what a richly-hued vision of the fantastical it is.
An illustration by Tosa Mitsuoki of The Tale of Genji, late 17th century.
Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji, served in the Japanese imperial court. She transformed her experiences into an intricate narrative fusing fiction, history, and poetry.
William Faulkner’s novel depicts a poor rural family from Mississippi struggling to find their place in the modernising society of the 1930s.
US Library of Congress
William Faulkner began writing As I Lay Dying the day after the 1929 Wall Street crash. It documents, through the voices of 15 characters, the emergence of a poor white family into the modern world.
The “Don Quixote” windmills in Consuegra, Spain. They were made famous by the novel in the 16th century.
Completed by Cervantes when he was in prison, Don Quixote is the tale of a man so passionate about reading he leaves home to live the life of his fictional heroes.
A stick insect in Borneo: variation and natural selection has resulted in insects with the astonishing ability to mimic features in their natural environment.
In this age of the pseudo-factual, its more important than ever to acquaint ourselves with the foundations of the scientific tradition, such as Darwin's Origin of Species.
Heart of Darkness follows a journey up the Congo River, but equally critiques the imperial powers back in Europe.
USAID Democratic Republic of Congo/Flickr
In our ongoing Guide to the Classics series, we look at Heart of Darkness: the product of dark historical energies that continue to shape our contemporary world.
An ad for cotton thread drawing on the scene in Gulliver’s Travels in which Gulliver is tied down by Liliputians.
In its abridged form, Gulliver's Travels has become a children's classic. But in full, it is a misanthropic satire, scathing of politicians.
Jia Baoyu, the protagonist of Dream of the Red Chamber, as drawn by Gai Qi, 1879.
Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin, follows the travails of a pubescent boy. Somehow, through the spats, crushes and rivalries of a handful of teenagers, the great questions of the human condition are broached.
Fresco showing a woman called Sappho holding writing implements from Pompeii Naples National Archaeological Museum.
Sappho sang of desire, passion and love – mostly directed towards women. As new fragments of her work are found, a fuller picture of her is emerging, but she remains the most mysterious of ancient poets.
An illustration from a 1914 edition of Anna Karenina.
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is often acclaimed as the best novel ever written. The enthralling narrative explores love and family through intertwining plot lines, with Anna and her desire at the centre.
A central convention of Greek mythological narratives called katabasis, the hero’s journey to the underworld or land of the dead.
Marcella Cheng/The Conversation NY-BD-CC
Journeys to the Underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety.
The Conversation 36.9 MB (download)
Our new podcast, Essays On Air, features the most beautiful writing from Australian researchers. Today, classics expert Paul Salmond explores how modern cinema directors borrow from Greek legends.
Giovanni Cavino, I primi dodici imperatori Romani (‘The first twelve Roman emperors’), plaquettes produced at Padua, c. 1550.
Suetonius’s unforgettable tales of sex, scandal, and debauchery have ensured that his writing has played a significant role in shaping our perceptions of imperial Rome.
Virgil reads the Aeneid to Octavia and Augustus.
Angelica Kauffmann/Hermitage/Wikimedia Commons
Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid documents the founding of Rome by a Trojan hero. As with other ancient epics, our hero has to remain resolute in the face of significant divine hostility.
Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s vision of heaven and hell.
The gates to hell in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy tell us to "abandon all hope, yet who enter here". Despite its unfunny premise, 'La Commedia' ends well, with its protagonist Dante reaching heaven.
Odysseus and his crew escape the cyclops, as painted by Arnold Böcklin in 1896.
The story of the Odyssey is a quintessential quest that relates to the passage through life and the importance of love, family and home. Odysseus's adventures have influenced everyone from Batman to Bob Dylan.