Clearly, the Greeks are a source of much that we esteem in our own culture: democracy, philosophy, tragedy, epic and lyric poetry, history-writing, our aesthetic sensibilities, ideals of athletic competition, and more. But what is it about Hellenic culture that has made generations of influential scholars and writers view it as the essential starting point for understanding the art and reflection that define the West? This series of 24 lectures by an accomplished Greek scholar and teacher traces the complex web of links between the present and its Mediterranean origins, taking you from the Late Bronze Age up to the time of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. It's an intellectual journey that lets you see ancient Greek civilization in the light shed by the newest and best research and criticism, expanding your understanding of history, literature, art, philosophy, religion, and more.
With a special focus on the two crucial centuries from 600-400 B.C.-the era of the Persian and Peloponnesian wars and of classical Athens as described in the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides and the philosophic dialogues of Plato-you'll come to understand how the uniquely "Greek" identity was forged, and how it gave root to so much of what we consider vital about our own present day. Just as important, you'll learn how the differences between our own modern values and beliefs and those of the Hellenic world-including slavery and the exclusion of women from public life-do not imply a lack of relevance to our own times but can instead teach us as just much as our affinities.
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A little disappointed
I recently listened to the History of Ancient Rome by Garett Fagan and was blown away. He did a fantastic job of telling the story from start to finish, level setting for those who are new to the topics and left you filled feeling quite knowledgable. Therefore, I was expecting something similar from Ancient Greek Civilization but that was not the case.
This speaker seemed to assume you had more background to begin with, bounced around a lot more and was more interested in discussing interpretations than walking you through the basic story. I think I would've enjoyed this more if I had first took a course on Ancient Greek history and listened to this afterwards. It felt more like a conversation you would have after taking such a course.
Interpretive History, Not a Comprehensive Overview
The professor who does this series is brilliant and those who have some familiarity with ancient Greek civilization will enjoy the insights and interpretations he offers. I highlighted the fact that the author does A LOT of interpreting in this series. Because of this, while he does cover all of ancient Greek civilization from its origins in Minoan and Mycenean civilizations to its radical change in Alexander the Great, he is not as comprehensive as I would have liked and leaves some gaps and much material untouched. Those of you who are looking for a good, first, general overview of ancient Greek civilization should look elsewhere. However, if you've already had your overview and would like to hear the perspective of a well established scholar on the ancient Greeks, then this book will be right for you.