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The Greek Achievement


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Recreating the world of Ancient Greece; the formation of the Greek world; Homer's world - heroes and the coming of city-state; an expanding world - 800-550 BC; new identities - the consolidation of the city-state; underlying patterns - land and slavery; underlying patterns - spiritual life; revolutions in wisdom - new directions in the Archaic age; creating the Barbarian - the Persian Wars; the fifth century - the politics of power 479-404 BC; the Athenian democracy; homage for Dionysus - the drama festivals; man is the measure - philosophers and speculators, 450-330 BC; relationships; transitions - the Greek world in the fourth century BC; Alexander; the Hellenistic world; mathematics, science and medicine; the Greeks and Rome; the Greeks in the Roman empire; conclusion - the Greek achievement.

About the Author

In more than thirty years, Charles Freeman's travels have taken him to most of the sites mentioned in The Greek Achievement, from Aphrodisias to Olympia, from Troy to Delphi. He has dug on all three continents surrounding the Mediterranean and served as academic director on summer schools on Renaissance Italy. His books include EGYPT, GREECE AND ROME; CIVILIZATIONS OF THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN; and LEGACIES OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS.


These are not your grandfather's Greeks, flawless creators of a world where, as Freeman writes, "the marble is always shining, the streets are clean, and there is a lot of time for passionate philosophical discussions about art, theater, or the meaning of life." Greek civilization was often bloody and brutal, sustained by conquest, slavery and the subjugation of women. Nonetheless, in demythologizing Greek civilization, Freeman (Egypt, Greece and Rome, etc.) clarifies its extraordinary achievements. His story stretches from the Mycenaeans (circa 1500 B.C.) to the late Hellenistic period (fourth century A.D.), exploring the enormous achievements of the archaic period on which the classical era was built, as well as the previously undervalued Hellenistic era. It's a difficult, complex story that highlights multiple cultural borrowings and transformations as often as it celebrates pure inventions. Drawing on archeology and literature, Freeman expertly illuminates the nature of Greek life. His main thrust is an integrated account that uses the evolving background of everyday concerns, class conflicts and external threats to make sense of Greek culture. He points out the spots where his story is necessarily speculative, and he usually offers competing viewpoints. Chapters focus on such issues as Athenian democracy, drama and philosophy, and Hellenistic science, mathematics and medicine. As a lively survey of a past civilization and the present's debt to it, this is on a par with Thomas Cahill's successful Hinges of History series (The Gifts of the Jews, etc.). But Freeman is a more rigorous historian than Cahill, and he never lets enthusiasm obscure the distinction between fact and myth, between events and their interpretation. Illustrations, maps. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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