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Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This was a terrific exploration of Periclean Athens, focusing on topics ranging from family dynamics to theatre to philosophy to legal process.
What does Professor Jeremy McInerney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Energy, enthusiasm, and wit.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Anyone can tell you that Western civilization owes much to the ancient Greeks. But few people can give you the insight of this lecturer. He gives an in depth tour of ancient Greece in the 400s BCE and he does not attempt to hide the ugly aspects of a society that used slave labor. He uses the Persian and Peloponnesian wars as bookends for his examination.
He gives a detailed portrait of life for generals and politicians as well as everyday citizens and foreigners. In doing so he covers the historical and cultural events that shaped the city.
Finally, he discusses how the ancient Greeks were similar and different from us in their conception of ideas of freedom and democracy.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for an in depth look at the ancient Greeks, but you do need some familiarity with the material to get the most out of it. I would not recommend it as a first book about the ancient world.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This was an excellent introduction to Ancient Athens, with lectures covering pretty much every aspect of society. As the name suggests, it focuses roughly on the period around Pericles' lifetime (495-429BC), between the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars (although it goes a bit before and after for context), during which Athens was a world power .
It IS worth having a map of Ancient Greece handy while listening, along possibly with one of Athens itself - there are plenty downloadable on the internet.
The narrator is a very clear speaker, perfectly intelligible at 1.25x speed (which makes the lectures around 24 minutes long). The lectures are pretty easy to understand and often are a good introduction if you want to study an area in more depth. The course overall gives a very good overview, especially with getting into the mindset of WHY people thought particular things, without going into excessive confusing detail. While you can easily spot connections between the lectures, they're mostly self contained enough that you COULD pick and choose which to listen to without getting horribly confused (though it's a good enough course you probably won't feel the need to).
Lectures (if you go to the course page on The Great Courses website there's individual lecture summaries):
1) The Agora (essentially overview of the city center)
2) The Persian Wars (which were the precursor to:)
3) The Athenian Empire (how, why, etc)
4) The Career of Pericles
5) Aspasia (Pericles' mistress - includes legalities + role of women)
6) Parthenon and Acropolis (this is a mixture of religion and architecture)
7) Panathenaea - The Festivals of Athens
8) Paideia - Education in Ancient Athens
9) Marriage in Pericles' Athens
10) Family and Property
11) Coins Trade and Business
12) Death and Burial
13) Aeschylus and Early Tragedy (first of 4 lectures on greek theatre)
14) Sophoclean Tragedy (second major Athenian tragedian)
15) Euripides (third major tragedian)
16) Comedy in the Age of Aristophanes (
17) Athenian Courts and Justice
18) Democracy and Government
19) The Age of Moderation
20) Freedom, Equality and the Rights of Man
21) Athens after Pericles
22) Socrates and the Sophists (this and the next are overview of philosophy)
24) An Elegy to Athens
2 of 2 people found this review helpful