Introducing the Ancient Greeks From Bronze Age Seafarers

Introducing the Ancient Greeks From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind The ancient Greeks invented democracy theater rational science and philosophy They built the Parthenon and the Library of Alexandria They wrote down the timeless myths of Odysseus and Oedipus and the histories of Leonidas’s three hundred Spartans and Alexander the Great But understanding these uniuely influential people has been hampered by their diffusion across the entire Mediterranean Most ancient Greeks did not live in what is now Greece but in settlements scattered across Turkey Syria Egypt Libya France Italy Bulgaria Russia and Ukraine They never formed a single unified social or political entity Acclaimed classics scholar Edith Hall’s Introducing the Ancient Greeks is the first book to offer a synthesis of the entire ancient Greek experience from the rise of the Mycenaean kingdoms of the sixteenth century BC to the final victory of Christianity over paganism in AD 391Each of the ten chapters visits a different Greek community at a different moment during the twenty centuries of ancient Greek history In the process the book makes a powerful original argument A cluster of uniue ualities made the Greeks special and made them the right people at the right time to take up the baton of human progress According to Herodotus the father of history what made all Greeks identifiably Greek was their common descent from the same heroes the way they sacrificed to their gods their rules of decent behavior and their beautiful language Edith Hall argues however that their mind set was just as important as their awe inspiring achievements They were rebellious individualistic inuisitive open minded witty rivalrous admiring of excellence articulate and addicted to pleasure But most important was their continuing identity as mariners the restless seagoing lifestyle that brought them into contact with ethnically diverse peoples in countless new settlements and the constant stimulus to technological innovation provided by their intense relationship with the seaExpertly researched and elegantly told Introducing the Ancient Greeks is an indispensable contribution to our understanding of the Greeks This book served as a good intro to the ancient Greek world I am going to read some Herodotus and Thucydides soon 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 for details Professor Hall’s work does not appear to be so much a history as an intellectual history an important subdivision of the general enterprise of history While this is a competent history of the Greeks through to the conuest of Christianity it does not offer any new insights There is an acknowledgement of the traditional and revisionist approaches to the ancient Greeks in this work Professor Hall does her best to navigate through these rocky shoals—this they succeed at uiet well However I was expecting of a history based upon textual and archaeological evidence and less on literary sources Although literary sources are textual I was hoping for texts that were factual in nature; historical in nature What this reader got was another obvious reading of the Homeric epics; the Theogony; Works and Days etc Again as an introduction this is to be expected but there are many introductions to the Greeks out there that takes this tackdoes this one add anything startlingly new to this? For this reader the answer is no but that is only a personal opinion In the end ‘Introducing the Ancient Greeks’ is a competent introduction to the Greeks but not much than this Recommendation A goodcompetent book for neophytes but seasoned Greek enthusiasts will find nothing shockingcompelling here 3 out of 5 stars A fantastically useful research teaching tool on Ancient Greece that is also immensely readableand these two characteristics don't always work in tandem I thoroughly enjoyed the concise chapters the categories of analysis and the smooth flowing prose style A great book written by a superb author although her comments on christianity made me feel like she was yelling at me through the pages My only complaint is the lack of mapsillustrations as it was extremely difficult to picture so many military campaigns in my head Her ancient literary commentary was absolutely fantastic A good book but could be better written Some odd error Augustus for Octavian at the battle of Actium Introducing the Ancient Greeks From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind by Edith Hall is an exceptional review of the impact of the ancient Greeks and clearly describes how these innovators gained their knowledge and scattered their culture abroad to what ultimately becomes known as the Roman Empire Hall uses ten characteristics uniue to the ancient Greeks and how each of these characteristics manifest themselves especially in literature and archaeology Hall begins the tale with the Mycenaeans who inhabited the island of Crete during the late Bronze Age and continues the narrative through the colonization of Asia Minor the Persian Wars the Peloponnesian War and the conuests of Macedonian and Rome With each time period she brilliantly connects the characteristics and shows how they evolve and developed over the centuries The evidence does become rather slim after the conuests of Macedonia under Alexander the Great almost as if the characteristics become diluted as if the characteristics became a shadowy reflection of what the ancient Greeks ultimately become The most interesting aspects of Introducing the Ancient Greeks were the archaeology commentary The ancient Greeks left a wealth of information in their pottery palaces and temples giving scholars the foundation in which to understand how the ancient Greeks lived which only highlighted the evidence of Hall’s thesis that many of the skills and ideas commonly associated with the ancient Greeks have roots in cultures that predate them My only complaint about the book is that there is no new information or new theory being presented It is an ideal book for anyone who is new to the study of the ancient Greeks but those who have studied the culture would find that the book has nothing new to add to the history If you are really into the ancient Greeks you will enjoy the book just to reread the philosophy and mythology who can really get tired of reading those? 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 philosophyUnfortunately whopper errors at the start and end of the book mar any good content in the middleFirst near the start Hall talks about how small Greece is at 25000 suare miles smaller than Portugal or ScotlandEr WRONG It's 50000 suare miles and bigger than both With that error occurring in the first dozen pages my skeptical antennae were up for the rest of the bookIt's much worse at the end where a mix of errors and unsupported presuppositions are horrendousFirst she claims that there were 110000 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 empireNext 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 originFinally 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 HypatiaBesides 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'tAlso on the central conundrum of some parts of ancient Greece that of personal liberty and in yet smaller places that of democracy vs the ubiuity 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 thatBeyond that classical era Greece seems too much filtered through the lens of AthensIonia 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 angleSo look for some other relatively new book for an introductory overview of ancient Greece 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 cultureThe 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 deserve details 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 fragmentaryI 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 for history

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