[Ebook] The Ancient Greeks: Ten Ways They Shaped the Modern World By Edith Hall – Writerscompany.co.uk

The Ancient Greeks: Ten Ways They Shaped the Modern World They Gave Us Democracy, Philosophy, Poetry, Rational Science, The Joke They Built The Parthenon And The Library Of Alexandria They Wrote The Timeless Myths Of Odysseus And Oedipus, And The Histories Of Leonidas S Three Hundred Spartans And Alexander The GreatBut Who Were The Ancient Greeks And What Was It That Enabled Them To Achieve So Much Here, Edith Hall Gives Us A Revelatory Way Of Viewing This Geographically Scattered People, Visiting Different Communities At Various Key Moments During Twenty Centuries Of Ancient HistoryIdentifying Ten Unique Traits Central To The Widespread Ancient Greeks, Hall Unveils A Civilization Of Incomparable Richness And A People Of Astounding Complexity And Explains How They Made Us Who We Are Today A Thoroughly Readable And Illuminating Account Of This Fascinating People This Excellent Book Makes Us Admire And Like The Ancient Greeks Equally Independent A Worthy And Lively Introduction To One Of The Two Groups Of Ancient Peoples Who Really Formed The Western World Sunday Times Throughout, Hall Exemplifies Her Subjects Spirit Of Inquiry, Their Originality And Their Open Mindedness Daily Telegraph A Book That Is Both Erudite And Splendidly Entertaining Financial Times Ancient Greece culture is one of the pillars of modern Western civilization, and this book is a great introduction to almost two thousand years of history that still shapes our culture.The author lays out in the very beginning of the book what she considers as the essential components of ancient Greek culture and character, and then proceeds in chronological fashion to show us how parts of ancient Greek history relates to those components It is not easy to summarize such a long segment of histo Ancient Greece culture is one of the pillars of modern Western civilization, and this book is a great introduction to almost two thousand years of history that still shapes our culture.The author lays out in the very beginning of the book what she considers as the essential components of ancient Greek culture and character, and then proceeds in chronological fashion to show us how parts of ancient Greek history relates to those components It is not easy to summarize such a long segment of history in only a few hundred pages, but within these constraints, this book does a splendid job, becoming almost a page turner I found some parts of the book not detailed enough, for example the period and events surrounding Hypatia deservedetails, but that s the mathematician in me speaking There are so many fascinating periods, events, characters in this history, it is indeed very difficult to be fair to all of them All in all, this book helped me fill in many blanks for me, because before this book, my knowledge of ancient Greece were limited to my readings on history of philosophy, mathematics and medicine that is somewhat patchy and fragmentary.I can easily recommend this book to the curious readers who want a very easy to follow introduction to ancient Greek culture and history, a coherent guide to this important period of our civilization A few laughs and smiles are almost guaranteed and some of the characters you will find so alive as if ready to jump from those pages to you, lecturing on their current events Finally, suggested reading and notes section are also very valuable for guiding the readers so that they can satisfy their appetite forhistory At first I felt that this book was ok, but it grew on me so that now I think it is quite nice and eminently recommendable as a non threatening introduction to the Ancient Greeks.Hall has a double approach which structures the book, one broadly chronological, the other ten key characteristics which she thinks typical of the Ancient Greeks apart from the Spartans who don t have all of them view spoiler I can t remember what the ten were view spoiler nor can I be bothered to check, it s not At first I felt that this book was ok, but it grew on me so that now I think it is quite nice and eminently recommendable as a non threatening introduction to the Ancient Greeks.Hall has a double approach which structures the book, one broadly chronological, the other ten key characteristics which she thinks typical of the Ancient Greeks apart from the Spartans who don t have all of them view spoiler I can t remember what the ten were view spoiler nor can I be bothered to check, it s not that important view spoiler and in my opinion even less serious view spoiler and as for the seven deadly sins, phffgh, don t try and tell me anything about sloth hide spoiler hide spoiler hide spoiler , suffice it to say they were all positive hide spoiler amusingly, towards the end of the book we learn that this idea is not only not original view spoiler not much is original when it gets looked into and the few things that are, we d probably prefer not to have hide spoiler but has itself a long pedigree back to Isocrates who said that Greekswere not united by blood but by a frame of mindp.233 We might view this book as an attempt to educate the reader and not so much introduce them, but actually to make them part of the ancient Greek community you too can be an ancient Greek, particularly if you like Dolphins, triangles, and psychological honesty view spoiler Hall dismisses a mention of two Spartan women as pythagorians too late to be trustworthy, yet in truth that presumably means that they were known vegetarians, unless either reincarnation or drawing triangles were what the source had in mind hide spoiler And who doesn t like Dolphins, apart from tuna fishermen and fish, according to Hall in the region of 40 cities used a dolphin motive on their coinage at one time or another, Olbia on the black sea went further than most one of the peculiarities of Olbia was its coins, which did not just depict dolphins, as did the coins of many cities, but were actually minted in the three dimensional shape of dolphins, with curving backs p.97 , I suppose at least their coins would have been distinctive.Hall suggests there are two broad approaches to the Ancient Greeks One that the Greeks were exceptional, a pure spring of self created invention, the other that the Greeks were primarily translators, transferers and combiners of ideas and technologies from other people Hall in classic Goldilocks fashion wants to find a middle ground which is neither too racist, yet which also gives some individual credit to the Greeks pp xiii xv , the odd thing to my mind is that she portrays the second approach as therecent one a result of the greater understanding of the ancient Mediterranean realm and the near East that has developed over the last couple of hundred years yet oddly it is one of the oldest ideas there is Herodotus quite plainly tells us of customs which the Greeks borrowed from their neighbours hoplite warfare for one, it is the idea of attributing ancient Greek culture to their racial characteristics which itself is a relatively new idea view spoiler mind you, compared to Herodotus, most ideas are new hide spoiler The borrowings are quite wide ranging some at least of the adventures of Hercules apparently were originally the Phoenician adventures of Melquart, the gods Apollo and Artemis from modern day Turkey while amusingly Dionysius who was regarded as a new incoming God in the classical period seems to have already been around in Mycenaean times Best of all the word barbarian turns out to have been an imported loan word from the barbarous heart of the Persian empire.Reading Hall s account of the story of Archilos s seduction poem in which rejected by one of Lycambes daughters he sweet talked another one andhe reports that he achieved some kind of intimacy with his new lover by staying within her grassy green plot , he ejaculated white semen on her golden hair This is the most explicit discussion of sexual activity in archaic literature The ancient Greeks said that Lycambes s whole family, as a result of Archilochus s vituperation, committed suicide p.89 I had the feeling that the ancient Greeks invented revenge porn, thus strengthening my belief that young people would be best served if all syllabuses and curricula in educational establishments only dealt with material from between the years 400 BC to 400 AD view spoiler with the possible exception of modern languages hide spoiler as there isthan enough in the classic world to help them deal with the modern one.Hall takes what to my mind is an unusual approach, beginning with the Mycenaeans and ending in the Christian period Generally books about the ancient Greeks have an evident hunger for sicking to the world of classical Athens though of course, the Athenians get their chapter in the Sun too The chapter about the Ptolemies I particularly enjoyed with a speech of Demosthenes s put in the mouth of a transvestite brothel keeper suggesting that Ptolemaic Egypt had a lively theatre scene.I was curious that in Mycenaean times Poseidon was the chief God, while in later times Zeus had supplanted him as supreme being, strange to imagine how that occurs, one day you are on top of creation, the next, just one of the gods, not even first among equals but in second place to your own younger brother Some odd revolution occurred in the minds of believers, but one which is silent to us.Although I preferred the richness of Early Greece and this book has annoyingly no pictures apart from reproductions of mainly Victorian etchings, it is a very nice introduction with fairly full descriptions of Greek literature, short easy chapters and an engaging tone, it s not a perfect book and other reviews have pointed out various errors, but I feel the good outweighs the bad This book looked interesting on the shelves I thought that, if nothing else, I might learn one or two things, at least, about post Mycenean, pre classical Greece, and, since the author is a philosophy prof, get her particular take on the ground zero of western philosophy.Unfortunately, whopper errors at the start and end of the book mar any good content in the middle.First, near the start, Hall talks about how small Greece is, at 25,000 square miles, smaller than Portugal or Scotland.Er, WRONG This book looked interesting on the shelves I thought that, if nothing else, I might learn one or two things, at least, about post Mycenean, pre classical Greece, and, since the author is a philosophy prof, get her particular take on the ground zero of western philosophy.Unfortunately, whopper errors at the start and end of the book mar any good content in the middle.First, near the start, Hall talks about how small Greece is, at 25,000 square miles, smaller than Portugal or Scotland.Er, WRONG It s 50,000 square miles and bigger than both With that error occurring in the first dozen pages, my skeptical antennae were up for the rest of the book.It s much worse at the end, where a mix of errors and unsupported presuppositions are horrendous.First, she claims that there were 110,000 Christians in the year 200 CE First, we don t know the exact number of Xns Second, to the degree we have guesstimates, we don t know how many of them were inside the Roman empire.Next, she claims the gospel of Mark was written 61 CE Uhh, most New Testament scholars would date it about 5 years later I think it could have been written as late as 70 71, depending on the provenance of its origin.Finally, she repeats the old secularist canard, as did Carl Sagan, that the death of Hypatia at the hands of Christians was what led to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria Actually, the library was first sacked, if not necessarily destroyed, during the reign of Emperor Aurelian a century earlier, in battle that had nothing to do with Christians Its final destruction may not have happened until the Muslim invasion of Egypt nearly two centuries after Hypatia.Besides the errors of fact, some of Hall s interpretations of classical Greece are spotty Yes, the Greeks were great seafarers, by and large But did every city state focus on the sea that much No Sparta didn t, certainly North of Athens, on the mainland, areas like Thessaly certainly didn t.Also, on the central conundrum of some parts of ancient Greece, that of personal liberty and in yet smaller places, that of democracy, vs the ubiquity of slavery, Hall simply doesn t wrestle with the conundrum that much Without expecting classical Attica to abhor slavery as much as us, and with Stoics like Epictetus even detaching from their own slavery, nonetheless, it was a conundrum of sorts even back then The Epicurean brotherhood of man attests to that.Beyond that, classical era Greece seems too much filtered through the lens of Athens Ionia on one hand, and Sparta on the other I mentioned Thessaly above What about Corinth Or the borderlands of the northwest The lens should have a wider angle.So, look for some other relatively new book for an introductory overview of ancient Greece A big subject in a small book It is difficult to get everything that was important about Greeks in 300 pages but the book does a good job of giving a sketch of why we should still pay attention to the ancient Greeks The story is not revisionist and in many ways is old school about the Greeks but it is an entertaining synopsis of the highlights of Greek Culture Pleasurable See my updates fordetails.

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