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Athens: A Portrait of the City in Its Golden Age (1993)

av Christian Meier

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1802154,292 (3.92)5
The 5th century was a glorious era for Athens. The unprecedented evacuation of the city in 480 BC as the Persians advanced was followed by Athens' first and greatest victory at sea which established her as a major naval power. During the following years Athens dominated innovation, commerce, science, philosophy, art, architecture and literature. Meier brings this tumultuous and unique period in history to life by his imaginative use of the sources and lively comment.… (mer)
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Athens was a book I was really looking forward to reading. I mean, how exciting is the Greek Golden Age? Pretty exciting is the correct answer. So what a letdown this monster-sized thing by Heier was. I didn’t think that such boring history books got published anymore, but I guess I was wrong. Actually the book was heavy on the research synthesis but not organized well and seemed overly cautious in tone for the sweeping generalizations he was making. Heier seemed to want to downplay Greek religion as a real human phenomenon. He notes in an aside how the Israelite's had their God (Yahweh) use the Persians as a punishing force for Israelite disobedience. This is meant to show how theology of any God was self-contradictory and therefore of little practical use. The section on the Sophists seemed to exist to show how they made religion as a ritual cult ultimately unnecessary for life in the city. This book is moderately interesting but hardly worth the effort to plow through so many pages to finish it. Skip this and read Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical by Walter Burkert.
  sacredheart25 | Jan 11, 2014 |
I would have to start by saying that this is a pretty good overview for a serious scholar. There is a pretty dense opening with a detailed study of the earlier Greek societies, not so much the dreaded Names and Dates history stuff, but the underlying social conditions and world view of the Mycenaeans and the northern Greek ancestors of the Classical Athenians. The book then turns into a pretty enjoyable general history of Athens and its relations with its neighbors in the 'known world'. Every facet of the city's people is examined in at least some detail, from the origin of it's government to the arts, and how the cultural concept of beauty and equality of all men demanded a representative government to rule over it. Even the tragedies by the great playwrights are summarized and helpfully placed in their proper social context as satires worthy of anything on The Daily Show or Countdown or whatever particular program you enjoy that puts the government in its place. The period covered is the Golden Age (as the title claims) of Athens and its rapid and fortuitous rise to unequalled heights, to its equally rapid fall back into anarchy and despotism. There is much ego and self-serving politics in the meantime. In the span of literally a few generations (about 80 years), Athens morphs from a tyranny consolidating power for itself by giving rights and responsibilities to the lower classes, to a city that demanded freedom for all, then to an angry and stubborn military power that promised freedoms to those conquered as long as the local governments met the approval of the Athenian councils. This did not work too well then, or now frankly. Eventually, the Spartans and a coalition of almost every other Greek city and even the old enemy, the Persians forced Athens back into its little britches that were long outgrown. The irony is that Athens was the only city (polis to be proper) that had the means to stop the Persians in the beginning (480 BC), which led to the organization of the 'Delian League' that made Athens rich and powerful, enabling them to try to rule over the whole region. Which they successfully did under men like Pericles for about fifty years or so, by the way. As you would imagine, there are many lessons to be learned from the example of Athens and I believe that it should be studied in depth in all high schools (along with mandatory readings of Sherlock Holmes). The lessons of fairness, equality and friendship, both passed and failed by the Athenians, are equal cultural legacies to their arts, sciences and philosophies. ( )
1 rösta DirtPriest | May 27, 2009 |
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"Meticulously researched and engrossing, this is likely to become a standard popular history of Athens during its century of greatness."
 

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Christian Meierprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Kimber, RitaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Kimber, RobertÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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In the late summer of 480 B.C., most likely toward the end of September, a dramatic, heartrending scene played out on the coast of Attica.
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The 5th century was a glorious era for Athens. The unprecedented evacuation of the city in 480 BC as the Persians advanced was followed by Athens' first and greatest victory at sea which established her as a major naval power. During the following years Athens dominated innovation, commerce, science, philosophy, art, architecture and literature. Meier brings this tumultuous and unique period in history to life by his imaginative use of the sources and lively comment.

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