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Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind

av Edith Hall

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2012137,609 (3.79)Ingen/inga
Examines the ancient Greeks, from the rise of the Mycenaean kingdoms to the victory of Christianity over paganism, focusing on the qualities that characterized the widely diffused Mediterranean people over the long course of their history.
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So I went backward. I read what books on the ancient world I could find, as they there what I had. I learned but it was disjointed and understanding came in fits and starts.

Then I read this book.

The tone and voice is perfect. It is not and does not claim to be the ultimate book on the subject. It's a very good and effective introduction. It's written well and introduces what you need to know to continue study.

More over it sets you up for further study. The opening information includes two detailed maps and a timeline for reference. At the end each chapter has it's own list of references to pick up if a topic caught your eye and you want to know more.

But the brilliance that most impressed me is the habit of connecting and explaining events and populations. This is a vibrant, interactive and dynamic world. It's alive and active and passionate. And she is somehow able to bring that off the page.

This is how an introduction book is written. ( )
1 rösta anthrosercher | Jul 11, 2021 |
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 deserve more 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 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 for more history. ( )
1 rösta EmreSevinc | Jan 15, 2017 |
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Introducing the ancient Greeks undertakes the ambitious task of describing ancient Greek society in the 2,000 years between the Mycenaeans and the triumph of Christianity (roughly 1600 BC to AD 400). Although Hall does not state her purpose within the book, it is clearly intended for a popular rather than a specialised audience. A number of reviews in the general media indicate that she has successfully catered to that market and it is easy to see why.

Hall’s writing style is clear and accessible. She adopts an almost conversational flow, with the discussion moving from one topic to another in a naturalistic, story-telling manner. She makes sense of the vast mass of people, places, events and social change within the 2,000-year ambit of the book by providing snapshots of 10 different points in time. For each period, she provides an overview of key developments and discusses a number of different events, people or texts. Hall makes regular use of primary sources, usually paraphrasing or quoting them in short bursts. She also makes reference to several objects which illuminate particular points, though unfortunately few of them are illustrated within the book.
 
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There are sentences in Herodotus of heart-stopping beauty, created by surprising word order (hyberbaton), the mirroring of the content in the aural effect (as when the Nile rises), and the use of abstract nouns to denote the onset of an emotion, as in “fear falling” on someone. There are narratives so colorful that they have allowed the ancient Persians and Greeks to remain living presences in our culture
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Examines the ancient Greeks, from the rise of the Mycenaean kingdoms to the victory of Christianity over paganism, focusing on the qualities that characterized the widely diffused Mediterranean people over the long course of their history.

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