"What the Greeks discovered, how they brought a new world to birth out of the dark confusions of an old world that had crumbled away, is full of meaning for us today who have seen an old world swept away." Based on a thorough study of Greek life and civilization, of Greek literature, philosophy, and art, The Greek Way interprets their meaning and brings a realization of the refuge and strength the past can be to us in the troubled present. Miss Hamilton's book must take its place with the few interpretative volumes which are permanently rooted and profoundly alive in our literature.
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Wild Assertions but Still a Fun Listen
I like to read Edith Hamilton. However, if your annoyed by the "compare and contrast" method of scholarship (I think its very outdated myself) you wont like this. Mrs Hamilton has a strong need to compare cultures and thus extract the truth shes looking for from the contrasts. The problem is that the generalizations she must inevitably make for this type of approach can be wide sweeping and fairly wild, and thus the conclusions she reaches based on these generalizations become merely subjective. Often you may find yourself disagreeing with her.
One area in particular I disagree with is Hamilton's conclusions regarding Ancient Egypt. Explaining the Egyptians preoccupation with death (as she puts it), she attributes this to the fact that Egypt was mostly a place of misery and toil, thus producing in the culure a certain yearning for the next life and a certain salvation in death. Whereas, on the other hand, you have Hamilton's Greeks, portrayed here as a youthful, playful and life affirming culture, centered on the here and now.
This is wildly inaccurate. The Greeks themselves -Solon, Euclid, Pythagoras, Plato, Herodotus-who traveled there at different times, and acknowledged Egypt as the richer, deeper and more profound culture in every case. The Greeks who made their way to Egypt returned to "revolutionize" their respective fields of science. However, they were merely translating the knowledge of the Egyptians. The Greeks saw themselves more as children when they compared themselves to the Egyptians. All of her sciences had their origins in Egypt, the Greek Gods themselves had their origin in Egypt. Egypt was several thousand years old by the time the Greeks came into their ascendancy. Far from misery and toil, the Egyptian land was abundant, the society was rich and vibrant. Why do you thing Egypt was the breadbasket for the entire Mediterranean even into Roman times? She was the hub of Mediterranean trade. The view of slaves toiling to build the pyramids is so outdated to be comical now days. Egyptian concepts around death were not the attempts of a desperate people to escape the chains of misery, but a highly developed science of the soul which revealed a deep understanding of the nature and immortality of the soul and the possibility for perfection in this life and the next.
Anyway, sorry for the rant, but that's one example that I can provide to show the dangers of this type of compare and contrast history. Still, its a fun listen. Nadia May is great, the book is immersive, and there is still a lot of great info in here.
Shes great always
One reaction, see above
Liked it; but I have mixed feelings
- Phil O.