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    Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the Odyssey and the Iliad
    by Eva T. H. Brann
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 2002)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Cliff's Notes on Steroids
    I read this book concurrently with The Odyssey. Both were wonderful. I just can't say enough about Brann's book, though. It is clear that she knows the text backwards and forwards, and that she loves it. Her enthusiasm and her delicate, careful, thoughtful insight helped me immensely to understand, appreciate, and savor The Odyssey.

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I wish there could be a book like this for all of the classic texts.

    4-0 out of 5 stars a helpful addition to Homer commentaries
    The first thing the reader will notice is that this book is much more accessible than more overtly scholarly texts -- this is a good thing for either first time readers or long time fans of Homer's works.The opening chapters set the scene well and explain her methodology of picking special moments that illuminate the work as a whole.I enjoyed the first half of the book tremendously and found many fresh insights and interesting observations about both the Iliad and the Odyssey.My only slight disappointment was with the last 50-100 pages which focus mostly on plot summary of the Odyssey rather than her interesting commentary although she points out things along the way the readers should note.The last section reads more like Cliff's Notes while the first two-thirds of the book genuinely added to the reader's delight in Homer's works.Overall an excellent book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A virtuoso work
    Homer is, sadly, too often intimidating to the general reader who believes, wrongly but understandably, that he is archaic, irrelevant, and likely to be unreadable.After all, a book length poem -- as the contemporary high-schooler would say, give me a break.

    Eva Brann accomplishes, remarkably, two quite different achievements.First, she shows that even after nearly three millenia Homer remains completely relevant and accessible to the contemporary reader. Second, she provides insights which make the poem far more enjoyable to read, and demystifies many of the aspects which might confuse the modern reader.

    She does this with a subtle but delightful wit, and with a patient wisdom honed in forty years of teaching.

    Homer is not simply about the Trojan war and its aftermath, but is about what it means to live a life of honor and integrity.Brann understands this perfectly, and indeed echos it in her book, which is not simply about how to enjoy Homer, but is itself about what it means to be a successful human.

    Brann's academic home, St. John's, is one of the few colleges in the country -- probably in the world -- to abandon the concept of academic departments and to focus on the teacher as a guide to the great minds of history rather than as the teacher in his or her own right.This is the perfect background from which she writes a book which is rich in scholarship but in no way academic or professorial. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0967967570
    Sales Rank: 147140
    Subjects:  1. Achilles (Greek mythology) in literature    2. Ancient and Classical    3. Ancient, Classical & Medieval    4. Criticism and interpretation    5. Epic poetry, Greek    6. History and criticism    7. Homer    8. Literature - Classics / Criticism    9. Odysseus (Greek mythology) in    10. Odysseus (Greek mythology) in literature    11. Poetry   


    The Odyssey
    by Robert Fagles, Homer, Bernard Knox
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (29 November, 1999)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $10.17
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    Editorial Review

    Robert Fagles's translation is a jaw-droppingly beautiful rendering of Homer's Odyssey, the most accessible and enthralling epic of classical Greece. Fagles captures the rapid and direct language of the original Greek, while telling the story of Odysseus in lyrics that ring with a clear, energetic voice. The story itself has never seemed more dynamic, the action more compelling, nor the descriptions so brilliant in detail. It is often said that every age demands its own translation of the classics. Fagles's work is a triumph because he has not merely provided a contemporary version of Homer's classic poem, but has located the right language for the timeless character of this great tale. Fagles brings the Odyssey so near, one wonders if the Hollywood adaption can be far behind. This is a terrific book. ... Read more

    Reviews (126)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Odyssey Translation Available
    This translation is by far the best I've read.Fagles is the greatest storyteller of mythology in our time.I must caution, however; be prepared to be bored.The first 75 pages are not that interesting.I also suggest that you read Fagles' The Iliad prior to trying The Odyssey on for size.

    This story is also for the more intelligent sector of our population.You must have a broad vocabulary to comprehend the plotline and patience to stick with it.I personally suggest that you annotate as you read (and include some unknown word definitions) on either Post-its or in the margins.Keep that pocket dictionary handy!

    But if you like adventure and the Greek Gods, then this is surely your book.After all, everyone lives their own Odyssey, whether it be the journey home of Odysseus, the glorious death of Achilles, or just the time we spend trying to find ourselves.Read this book, and begin your own Odyssey.

    2-0 out of 5 stars To each his own
    Personally, I thought that this book was extrememly boring. I had to read it in school and I didn't understand it at all. The words were very confusing and the plot had so many different aspects that it was hard for me to keep up. However, if you are a person that likes action and fighting scenes, then I am sure that you would love this book. Many of the guys in my class loved it becuase of the fight scenes. It all just depends on what type of novel you enjoy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars War and Penelope.
    I hope that those who read my review will forgive me because I would like to talk mainly about Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. When I read the Odyssey for the first time, I thought it was a wonderful adventure book with beautiful and dangerous women and I laughed with that half-wit of a Polyphemus, one of the cyclops. But near the end something was missing, it was not what it should be. Odysseus came home. His son Telemachus and his swineherd were glad and his dog could finally die with the comforting knowledge that it's master was among the living. Why didn't Penelope make a joyful sound ? Why was she so silent ? I shrugged my shoulders and said:'women!'. It's only years later I began to understand a little. So many people died in the Trojan war. The many adorers of Penelope were slaughtered by Odysseus with no compassion at all. The silence of Penelope was a reproachful silence. She was wondering how many more dead people it would take before men could live in peace. We still ask that question. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140268863
    Subjects:  1. Ancient, Classical & Medieval    2. Classics    3. Epic poetry    4. Epic poetry, Greek    5. Odysseus (Greek mythology)    6. Poetry    7. Translations into English    8. Ancient (Classical) Greek    9. Classic fiction    10. Myth & legend told as fiction    11. Poetry & poets: classical, early & medieval    12. Works by individual poets: classical, early & medieval   


    by Edith Hamilton
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 September, 1998)
    list price: $13.95 -- our price: $11.16
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    Editorial Review

    Edith Hamilton loved the ancient Western myths with a passion--and this classic compendium is her tribute. "The tales of Greek mythology do not throw any clear light upon what early mankind was like," Hamilton explains in her introduction. "They do throw an abundance of light upon what early Greeks were like--a matter, it would seem, of more importance to us, who are their descendents intellectually, artistically, and politically. Nothing we learn about them is alien to ourselves." Fans of Greek mythology will find all the great stories and characters here--Perseus, Hercules, and Odysseus--each discussed in generous detail by the voice of an impressively knowledgeable and engaging (with occasional lapses) narrator. This is also an excellent primer for middle- and high-school students who are studying ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

    Reviews (60)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Only for those new to Greek mythology
    Nice overview for someone new to Greek mythology.It covers the major figures and stories, but for anyone who has studied mythology, it is overly simplistic.The stories have been "sanitized," possibly for a younger audience.For example, Aphrodite is said to have sprung from the foam, but Hamilton chooses to omit the Uranus story explaining why she came out of the foam in the first place.Those with a serious interest in Greek mythology should look elsewhere.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must read book to whoever interested on mythology
    Hamilton's book is a fairly complete overview of the mythology. She covers both the most famous and more obscure myths, leaving the reader with a fair understanding of the entire area of knowledge. The myths are written in both an entertaining and informative manner.

    Hamilton tends to take a somewhat optimistic view of the Greeks and Romans, seeming to view them as the very height of all civilization. She forgives or glosses over many of the darker aspects of the myths. This may have something to do with the fact that this book is often found in junior high and high school libraries.

    Nevertheless, she gives a fairly complete picture of mythology. She includes the frequent oddities and irrationalities of the gods as well as their human counterparts. She is also to be congratulated for including a full explanation of which ancient writers gave her the information for certain areas of the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Edith Hamilton's Mythology
    This is an awesome book about Greek and Roman mythology. Hamilton is obviously very passionate about the subject, but she doesn't let emotion get in the way of her writing. She tells the myths like they are, occasionally using passages from other writers, like Ovid. Also included are family trees of the gods, heroes, and houses of ancient Greece, a short section on Norse mythology, and illustrations of scenes from the myths. This is a very refreshing mythology book to read-and it's so entrancing I read my copy in a day!

    Part I, The Gods, the Creation, and the Earliest Heroes
    Part II, Stories of Love and Adventure
    Part III, The Great Heroes before the Trojan War
    Part IV, The Heroes of the Trojan War
    Part V, The Great Families of Mythology
    Part VI, The Less Important Myths
    Part VII, The Mythology of the Norsemen ... Read more

    Isbn: 0316341517
    Subjects:  1. Classical mythology    2. Folklore & Mythology    3. Folklore & Mythology - Mythology    4. General    5. History: World    6. Mythology    7. Social Science    8. Sociology    9. Social Science / Folklore & Mythology   


    The Greek Way
    by Edith Hamilton
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1993)
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $10.36
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    Reviews (19)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Greek Way is one of my favorite books
    Edith Hamilton's book, The Greek Way, tells the amazing story of how the Greeks in the small city of Athens developed a new way of life in the western world around 500BC. Some of the highlights of her fascinating story are as follows:

    In a world where tyrants and the irrational played the chief role, the Greeks in the city of Athens believed in the supremacy of the mind in the affairs of men. The Athenians lived in a "reasonable" world because they used their reason on the world.

    For a brief period, extraordinary creative activity blossomed in Athens because the Athenians combined the clarity of reason with spiritual power.
     The ancient Egyptians left tombs (Pyramids) as their monuments to death.
     The ancient Athenians left theaters, statues, and plays as their monuments to life.

    The Athenians were different from most other ancient peoples because:
     The mountains of Greece helped to create a physically vigorous people who resisted submitting to despots.
     The Athenians looked at the world closely and had an intense desire to understand what they saw. They were the first "scientists" and delighted in making the obscure clear and finding system, order, and connection in the world.
     The Athenians loved reason, knowledge, and play.
     The Athenians were not oppressed by governments, religions or superstitions and were free to use their minds to examine whatever they wished.
     The Athenians, unlike many ancient or modern cultures, found the world a beautiful and delightful place in which to live and they found happiness in using their vital powers in the pursuit of excellence.
     In Greece, the mind and the spirit met on equal terms.

    Greek writing is plain writing, direct and matter-of-fact. It depends no more on ornament than does Greek architecture. For example, the following shows the same idea expressed both in the New Testament and by the Greek writer Aeschylus:
     In the New Testament
    Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
     By the Greek writer Aeschylus
    Men search out God and searching find him.

    The Greek's universe is rational and well ordered without the worship of the powers of darkness. Socrates believed that goodness and truth were the fundamental realities, and that they were attainable. He believed that in the seeming futility of life there is a purpose which is good and that men can find it and help work it out.

    In a century or two, Greek scientists remade the ancient view of the universe. They leaped to the truth by an intuition, they saw a whole made up of related parts, and with the sweep of their vision the old world of hodge-podge and magic fell away and a world of order took its place.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Greatest Human Freedom & Its Power Corrupting Downfall
    Great book on the Greek mind and culture, not overly detailed and self explanatory, dealing with their art, writing, historians,playwrights, comic and tragic poets and religion. I think this is a great book to read along with H.D.F. Kitto's book, The Greeks.

    Hamilton goes into the Eastern way of quietistic retreat and denial of the external world of the Egyptians in the culture that worshiped the dead and interior spirit world, how they reduced to nothingness all that belongs to man and this world. Man is annihilated into the ways of nature. The Hindus also traveled within the interior selves, and in art, expressing themselves in decorative and elaborate art and writing. conglomeration of adornments ornaments and decorations. While the Greeks honored this world, this life, seeing the divinity and sacredness in this world, involving themselves in excellence, in the Olympic games, having gods and goddesses that resembled the beauty of humans and human existence. This was alien to mysticism and the vanishing of the self. Unlike other civilizations where the intellect belonged strictly to the priests, the Greeks as a whole pursued rationalism, truth, simplicity and meaning in existence. Life was lived to its fullest, but not in excess, as the two inscriptions over the Oracle of Apollo in Delphi reads as: "Know thyself" and "Nothing in excess."

    On page 20 "That which distinguishes the modern world from the ancient, and that which divides the West form the East, is the supremacy of mind in the affairs of men, and this came to birth in Greece and lived in Greece alone of all the ancient world. The Greeks were the first intellectualists. In a world where the irrational had played the chief role,they came forward as the protagonists of the mind."

    In art, in writing, in the gods, there was simplicity, lucid clarity that shied away from symbolism. This can be seen in the architecture and the poetry. The Gothic cathedral was raided in in awe of an Almighty God, humanity far below in reverence, while the Parthenon was raided in triumph, to express the beauty and the power and the splendor of man.

    Hamilton goes intuit the style and and aristocracy of the poet Pindar, into the freedom and amount of leisure in the culture for persons to seek out truth and rational development, the Symposium dinner party of the upper class and dinner party of Xenophon and working men and women. The writings of the extensive traveling and experiences of Herodotus and his attitude towards other cultures, both of this world and in religious allegorism. How the freedom allowed the comic poet Aristophanes to speak freely and question the intentions and actions of the most important figures without any back lash. In this she compares this to sixteen century England and Gilbert.

    A summary of the account of the historian Thucydides, the exiled general and his observance of a great democracy that defeated the Persians in a new era and later their power, strength and greed corrupting her, finally falling to the oligarchy and tyranny of Sparta. The Peloponesian War caused great strain on the culture and paranoia developed. The rule of the one, of the few, of the many, each is destroyed in turn because there is in them all an unvarying evil - the greed for power - and no moral quality is necessarily bound up with any of them. There is a real parallel today the current imperialistic powers, the U.S., that once based their ideals on democratic freedoms, but even from the start not without severe contradictions..

    A good discussion is made on the idea of tragedy, a Greek creation from a free society, the spirit of inquiry in poetry, the dignity in the suffering and significance of human life. The three tragic poets, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. The mystery of suffering and sense of the wonder of human life, its beauty and terror and pain and the power in meant to do and to hear in the words of Aeschylus. The structure and form of Sophocles in the idea of helpless fate and the power of man to ally himself with the good in suffering and dying nobly. And the criticism as in our modern day of Euripides, who both attacked all of the foundations, an indictment of evil and at the same time looked at the tender compassion of the unfortunate and the sense of the worth of human life.

    Other thoughts are conveyed on the birth of the newer god, Dionysus, needed for the substance for Apollo to balance, to allow the ecstasy and nothing in excess. Nobel self restraint must have something to restrain.And subsequently the importance of Demeter and addition of Dionysus in the Eleusinian mysteries. Each new idea would always threaten the old, but in the end there is a deeper insight and a better life with ancient follies and prejudices gone. This was the case with Socrates in the attempt to attain truth, goodness and fundamental realities. The book ends in a small comparison of the unbalance of the modern world from the Greeks.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An ode to history
    This is simply a good old-fashioned history of Greek culture, and Mr. Hamilton is not at all apologetic for the constant praise she gives to the Greeks. Many other reviewers have pointed out the strengths of this book, and they are all accurate.However, this book is more than an ode to the Greeks. It is also a celebration of history."It is ever to be borne in mind that though the outside of human life changes much, the inside changes little, and the lesson book we cannot graduate from is human experience." This book goes a long way toward capturing a crucial part of our human experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who agrees with Ms. Hamilton on the primacy of history.The book is crucial for anyone who needs help understand human nature, and that should be all of us. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0393310779
    Sales Rank: 25000
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Civilization    3. Civilization, Greek    4. Greece    5. Greek literature    6. History - General History    7. History and criticism    8. History: World    9. To 146 B.C    10. Ancient Greece    11. Cultural studies    12. European history: BCE to c 500 CE   


    Who Killed Homer?: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom
    by Victor Davis Hanson, John Heath
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 March, 2001)
    list price: $17.95 -- our price: $12.21
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    Editorial Review

    The answer to the attention-grabbing question posed by classicists Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath in the title of this passionate defense of their field (which is also a damnation of their academic colleagues) is not a pretty one. "It was," they admit sadly, "an inside job."

    Why, at the end of the 20th century, should we give a hoot in the first place about a brutal, misogynist society that rose to greatness on the back of slaves? Because, they argue, it was the first place; for all the faults of ancient Greece, the seeds of what Western civilization is today were planted there. "What we mean by Greek wisdom," they explain, "is that at the very beginning of Western culture the Greeks provided a blueprint for an ordered and humane society that could transcend time and space, one whose spirit and core values could evolve, sustain, and drive political reform and social change for ages hence."

    But Hanson and Heath are not content to simply make a fiery, articulate case for what's right about understanding this particular ancient civilization in a contemporary world where more and more non-Western societies openly seek to embrace the democratic spirit. They go on to launch a deliciously vituperative jeremiad on what's wrong with the priorities of those entrusted with passing on this wisdom. Classics departments, as portrayed in Who Killed Homer?, appear to be filled with politically correct, insecure footnote fawners who, steeped in minutiae, miss the Big Picture. Hanson and Heath have a plan, sure to raise the hackles of tenured professors, for reviving classical studies that emphasizes the importance of teaching, communicating, and popularizing over publishing arcane monographs in journals not even the writer's family will ever read, insisting that the alternative--the extinction of a vivid intellectual pursuit--borders on cultural suicide. --Jeff Silverman ... Read more

    Reviews (37)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Decline of Culture and Knowledge
    There used to be a time when philologists had an intimate knowledge of world literature. For instance, if you read Erich Auerbach's classic "Mimesis" you enjoy the book of an grand old man of letters who like a souvereign displays his careful and passionate readings of the classics, and gives you thoughtful reasons why Homer could not survive. Compared to this grand old tradition Victor Hanson's book is thin-lipped and merely offers cheap polemics. One misses refinement and culture.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Antisemitic Silence
    In a typical neoclassicist's manner Mr. Hanson avoids talking about the Jewish-Christian basis of western culture. This is a problem because the actual reason for the decay of the Greek and Roman classics is not that they have been made unattractive by classics departments but that already in antiquity people found something more challenging in Jewish and Christian culture. The 'death of Homer' is not a modern phenomenon. The following books are a few examples of the vast literature on the subject: Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution; Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers; Ramsay MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Who's really killing Homer?
    As a Classics grad student, I have to say I do not recognize the Classics departments he describes in this book. The Classics scholars I know (and I've met many of them; it's a small field) are dedicated fair-minded scholars, not 'careerists.' Furthermore, Classics was one of the first areas of the humanities to acknowledge the debt the West owes to the East (back before it was fashionable) and if Hanson thinks the venerated M.L West was some dippy postmodernist, he'll have to go through me.Finally, Classicists have never gone wholesale for the New Historicism/cultural relativism that has paralyzed, say, academic English departments. The whole academic world needs to be dipped for these ticks, but Classics less than most.
    I think Hanson is endorsing the same antique parody of the Classics field that our multicultural critics use against us: tweedy, irrelevant conservative white supremacists. Classics has not been like this since the days of Basil Gildersleeve. Classical scholars of the 20th century have achieved the difficult feat of balancing progressive ideas with sober scepticism, and they deserve some kudos for it.
    Let's let Victor Hanson go duke it out with Martin Bernal, and let the rest of us go back to teaching, writing and keeping the flame alive. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1893554260
    Subjects:  1. Ancient Languages - Classical Greek    2. Ancient and Classical    3. Civilization    4. Civilization, Western    5. Classical philology    6. General    7. Greek influences    8. Greek philology    9. History - General History    10. Language    11. Language Arts & Disciplines    12. Linguistics    13. Study and teaching    14. United States    15. Appreciation    16. Homer   


    The World of Odysseus (New York Review Books Classics Series)
    by M. I. Finley, Bernard Knox
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (10 August, 2002)
    list price: $12.95 -- our price: $9.71
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    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Unanswerable
    Well, here's Finley's conclusion: Homer's stories about the Trojan War are fiction, and Schliemann's "discoveries" of Troy do not support his wild claims (despite Schliemann's other services to archaeology).Finley quotes the sceptical judgment of Charles Newton, the British Museum curator, who in 1878 wrote that we don't know the size of that kernel of truth in Homer's epics.Finley went further: there is no historical truth at all in The Iliad, and as little in The Odyssey also.

    My impression is that Finley was, and remains, a minority.Most Greek scholars (historical, archaeological, or philological) feel that there IS some real facts in Homer.For instance, J. B. Bury, writing in early last century in his History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great, stated that the traditional date of the Fall of Troy - i.e., the date indicated by Homer - 1183 BC, is correct, and that Homer's Troy corresponds to archaeological facts!

    Bury was the Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge (strange title for a scholar of ANCIENT Greece and Rome), writing his book at a time when Finley was an infant.It is possible that archaeological finds by 1954 have cast more doubts on Schliemann's labors, which were made in the 19th century.But then Finley quotes Newton with approval, and Newton wrote in 1878.It is equally possible (though I don't know) that modern archaeological discoveries have further supported Schliemann and not Finley.

    In a sense, the whole debate is moot.Many great works of literature are a mix of facts and fiction: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, China's Three Kingdoms and The Journey to the West, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.These are great books.To be sure, that kernel of truth may be very small in Homer, but we don't read Hamlet, let alone see it acted on stage, because we think the story is "real".That Homer's stories were believed by the ancients to be true (Alexander for one) is a major reason why we still have them today.

    And who can say for sure one finds nothing but true facts in history books?Can't true history contain a kernel of fiction also?Alexander, who believed in Homer without question and was inspired by The Iliad, is the subject of countless biographies, but whether we know whole truth and nothing but concerning Alexander is still a mystery.The difference between him and Achilles is a matter of degrees.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent "Epilogue" to Homer
    Reading Finley immediately after you finish Homer allows you to revisit the epics' individual passages and tie them into coherent themes. Finley's discussion of the Greek household, or oikos, is especially good, as are his insights on giftgiving. The world that Homer sang of is a stark contrast to the more familiar, Classical Greece, and yet the seeds of that Greece (and hence our world) are already reconizably there. Perhaps they are there in a truer, less alloyed form.

    The only regrettable part of this book is the second appendix, a speech that Finley later gave on Schliemann. It is full of such professional bitterness that one begins to doubt Finley's decency. The publisher produced a gem of a book, but it should seriously consider removing these few pages in future editions.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The "Odyssey" and "Iliad" in their historical contexts
    "The World of Odysseus" is a book with a unique intent:use archaeology and what historians have pieced together about pre-Classical Greece to describe the society that Odysseus (and the other characters of the Odyssey/Iliad) would have known at the time of the Trojan War.From theorizing about Homer's identity, to speculating on the relationship between Penelope and Odysseus, the author succeeds in a sotry nearly as interesting as the Odyssey itself.
    In any discussion about Homer and the epics, invariably questions arise about their historicity.Whole forests have been felled, and TV programs of varying (to say the least) accuracy have been broadcast about this point.The autor contends that such discussion is tangential to the real issue:the myth itself is important in what the content tells us about Greek society of the time-roughly 1200 BC.Thus, considering that Homer is relating actual locations and personages, but assuming the tales about the Gods were satire totally misses the point of the poems.All aspects of society are covered:customs, religion and class all get well written chapters.A pretty solid social history of Bronze-Age Greece.What tells against the book though is its age.Naturally the latest archaeology and theories don't appear here.Recommended as excellent background to the study of these two epic poems. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1590170172
    Sales Rank: 29562
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient and Classical    3. Epic poetry, Greek    4. History    5. History and criticism    6. History: World    7. Homer    8. Literature - Classics / Criticism    9. Literature and the war    10. Odysseus (Greek mythology) in    11. Odysseus (Greek mythology) in literature    12. Odyssey    13. Trojan War   


    Greeks and the Irrational
    by E.R. Dodds
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1951)
    list price: $19.95
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    Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars 'A SIMPLE PROFESSOR OF GREEK'
    Eric Dodds was sometime professor of Greek at Oxford. This book created a certain amount of a stir in its day both within and outside the arena of classical studies by either addressing, or being believed to address, up-to-date issues of anthropology and psychology. It consists basically of the Sather Classical Lectures that Dodds was invited to deliver at the University of California in 1950, and as it has been reissued in paperback in 1997 it's fair to assume that the publishers intend it to reach a wider readership than the dwindling band of classical initiates.

    I very much hope it does that, but a word or two would probably be in place regarding what to expect and what not to expect to find in the book. The author's preface warns us not to look in the book for a history of Greek religion, and more pertinently recognises that modern scholarship is a world of specialists, and Dodds reiterates right at the end that he is `a simple professor of Greek'. Amateurs, dilettantes and bluffers will find plenty of material to suit them I don't doubt, but Dodds is not one of their number. This work is best read as a standard piece of classical scholarship, not as breaking down any moulds or enclosures. The most casual glance at the daunting catalogue of references in the notes appended to each chapter will show what a vast amount of writing on the topics covered here was in situ before Dodds, and how could it be otherwise? Any commentary on, say, Plato or Empedocles or Greek history by and large had to do its best with issues of religion and trends in thought. There are numerous references to other cultures, and Dodds is certainly better versed in such matters than other classics dons that I knew. By my standards he shows wide reading and deep interest in anthropology and human behaviour. On the other hand my standards in these matters are a thing of shreds and patches, and if I wanted to improve that situation this is not where I would look. The focus here is exclusively on Greeks, and any parallels cited are cited from that point of reference. Another thing to be wary of is trying to read this book as any kind of parable for our times. In my own view it is a powerful parable for our times, but that's my own parable only. In the last chapter Dodds alludes to recent history. His date is 1950, which is nearer to the start of the first world war than to 2005. It seems to me that what he has to say about the recrudescence of irrational religion and what he calls `the pathetic reverence for the written word' is very near the bone indeed in 2005, but even if I'm right Dodds could not have known that in 1950, and modern history is invoked by him to illustrate ancient history, not the other way about.

    What one does expect and demand from a professor of Greek is knowledge and elucidation of what Greeks said thought and did. This is where The Greeks and the Irrational comes up trumps. There are eight chapters plus two appendices (on maenadism and the semi-magical theurgy). Dodds begins, very reasonably, at the beginning with Homeric terminology for the divine, seeing a culture in which values were a matter of status rather than of morality in any modern sense. He traces the development of the latter together with an analysis of various kinds of `madness', the significance (for Greeks not for Swedenborg or for Kant or for moderns) of dreams, the phenomenon of shamans in the context of trends in religious belief, the rise of rationalism and the counter-reaction that followed it, and the complex issue of Plato's teachings, which are far from unified or consistent. His final chapter is `The Fear of Freedom', and for my money this rings (or tolls) a loud clear bell in the early years of the third millennium. Genuine freedom of thought, much less of expression, is resented widely as being subversive, it seems to me, not least in a culture that likes to pose as embodying liberty by some kind of definition. In this Dodds seems to me to support my own view, but my own view it remains. Dodds is talking about Greeks.

    The presentation of the material improves as the book goes along. The early chapters contain too much Greek that should have been reserved for the notes in what was after all lectures, not the printed word, and will not be fully intelligible without help unless you have Greek. For all that they remain readable, and anyone who can recognise a first-class mind and a first-class scholar will recognise it here. In this respect Dodds has not been as adept as his Cambridge opposite number Denys Page, whose History and the Homeric Iliad followed about a decade later in the Sather series of annual lectures.(Curiously, Page was restricted to six lectures, not the eight he seemed to have been expecting.) Dodds has all eight at his disposal, the book is beautifully written, and I ended wishing there had been more. Still a book for a wide reading-public I should say, wherever intellectual curiosity and a wish to understand human thought-processes thrive.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Greek Enlightenments
    Surprised to see this old classic still in print, one can certainly recommend it, though with a list of debating points. Written in the Age of Freud the viewpoint is a trifle dated, yet not so, and wears well, despite the slight 'Greek on the couch' tone. It should not surprise us that the Age of Reason coursing through the Greeks should coexist with a great deal of Hyperborean tribal lore among some quite rude and saucy fellows, with their epic tales, animal sacrifices, Olympian divinities and iron weapons. Further, we overselect the 'Ionian Enlightenment' from a world far richer in content, one where Pythagoras sounds echoes of Indian religion, reincarnation was associated with the classic cultic mysteries, and the polytheism denatured by later monotheism flowered for the last time as the first version of the 'aesthetic state' so doted upon by Hegel, Wagner, and Nietzsche. The latter, after all, blames Euripides for 'rationalizing' the rich masterchords of the world of Greek tragedy. Dodds worries along with Gilbert Murray over this aspect of the Greek 'irrational' but we seldom realize that Indian culture and Greek culture in the Axial Age resembled each other more than we think.

    But more than that, it is our own conception of rationality that might be at fault. After all, between the high Enlightenment, Kant and Hegel on reason in history, then the instrumental reason critiqued by Adorno, we have no good stable definition of what rationality we are talking about. Homer's nod! What is the boundary of the 'irrational'? In an age of scientism, that boundary is miscast, and the Greeks remain to be discovered as a people with a balance we may well have lost! Always a fascinating piece of work.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Stimulating, despite a questionable agenda
    It is not uncommon for major figures of Ancient Greek thought to be deemed 'rationalists', a word often tainted by modern science in its implications. E.R. Dodds' book is fairly difficult to gauge on this. On one hand, it reconsiders the 'rationalist overview' by tracing back various guises of irrationalism that permeated Greek culture - a belief in daimons, the conception of a useful mania, theurgy, astrology, mystery cults. Writing about these elements, Dodds surveys a wide variety of authors and themes and provides a lively compendium. On the other hand, his methodology has shortcomings. The reader soon realizes that the ambivalence of Greek thought between the power of reason and its limitations is not a virtue according to Dodds. This is a legitimate point of view, but it has important consequences on the book's agenda. It is unabashedly teleological: irruptions of irrationalism are usually seen as 'symptoms', as setbacks from Dodds' ideal of positivistic rationalism. This is emphasized by his characterization of 5th century BC as Greece's Aufklarung. The chapter on theurgy is equally representative: while it is well-researched and in-depth, it is also filled with simplifications (the equation 'theurgy = magic', frequent in 1950s and 1960s scolarship, is stated repeatedly) and shows little sympathy for either theurgy or its theorists; this section would color many subsequent studies on the spirituality of late Neoplatonism, until scholars such as H.-D. Saffrey (a pupil of Dodds) favored an approach which was more open-minded and receptive. In spite of this, Dodds' book remains extremely stimulating and should be read by all those who are fascinated by the blurred line between reason and what is out of its reach; but it should not be considered as the last word on its objects of study. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520003276
    Sales Rank: 278336
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Civilization    3. General    4. Greece    5. History    6. Occult sciences    7. Philosophy   

    A Day in Old Athens
    by William Stearns Davis
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1960)
    list price: $18.00 -- our price: $18.00
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Walking Tour of Old Athens
    Davis takes you on an interesting walking tour of old Athens.He begins by entering the town at sunrise, beginning the day at market where people are eager to hear or tell "some new thing" .He continues throughout the city, meeting with every aspect of Athenian life and culture.

    This is very interesting reading, especially in conjunction with a study of Greek history or Homeric literature.It will give a broader understanding of the lifestyle and values of the Greeks.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Personal Tour Through Athens in 360 BC
    This little book tries to describe what an intelligent person would see and hear in ancient Athens, if by some legerdemain he were translated to the fourth century B.C. and conducted about the city under competent guidance.Rare happenings have been omitted and sometimes, to avoid long explanations, PROBABLE matters have been stated as if they were ascertained facts; but these instances are few. (1914) ... Read more

    Isbn: 081960111X
    Sales Rank: 880023
    Subjects:  1. Athens    2. Athens (Greece)    3. Civilization, Greek    4. Social life and customs   


    The Greco-Persian Wars
    by Peter Green
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 August, 1996)
    list price: $50.00 -- our price: $50.00
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    Editorial Review

    Popular classicist Peter Green (author of Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.) offers an engrossing narrative of the wars between the Greeks and the Persians. This is real David-and-Goliath material, with the scrappy, feuding city-states of ancient Greece fending off a much larger aggressor. The conflicts themselves are a kind of struggle for the soul of Western civilization: "On the one side, the towering, autocratic figure of the Great King; on the other, the voluntary and imperfect discipline of proudly independent citizens." The Greeks surprisingly fare better in these encounters, and make themselves legends on the plains of Marathon (192 Greek casualties versus 6,400 Persians), during the heroic last stand at Thermopylae, and elsewhere.

    The Greco-Persian Wars is full of wonderful stories featuring bravery, cowardice, and treachery. Unlike so many of his fellow historians, Green understands the importance of a dramatic narrative, sometimes employing novelistic techniques to relate what happened. It's not an overstatement to say that the course of Western history might have taken a strikingly unfamiliar turn if these battles had had different outcomes. Green is a natural storyteller, and The Greco-Persian Wars is a delight to read, even for readers who have no background or special interest in the classical world. --John J. Miller ... Read more

    Reviews (18)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Peter Green Masterpiece
    First of all let me say that those who are trying to read this book as a substitute for Herodotus are bound to be disappointed.A detailed reading of and knowledge of Herodotus is presumed.That said, this book sheds much light on some of the questions unanswered by Herodotus and many of the statements by Herodotus that have remained controversial over the centuries.It should also be pointed out that Peter Green apparently is from England originally and uses, on occasion, English slang.I would not say it grates or is irritating, however.
    Many have accused Peter Green of being a revisionist historian as if that is some kind of crime.What is most irritating to some of these critics is his defense of democracy evident throughout his writings.Just as a couple of hundred of years ago Americans read the ancient Greeks and Romans for ideas supporting democracy, many present day readers long for more ordered times and read the Greeks and Romans for support.Peter Green has the audacity to point out that free men have the right to do as they please with their freedom including mucking up their lives and country.This is anathema to many and may explain why he decided to live in the United States.
    Anyhow, this is a wonderful supplement to Herodotus.It is not boring and you simply cannot go wrong.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Superb Analysis of the Greco-Persian Wars
    It was mid-August in 490 BC in a place called Marathon. The Athenians had just registered a stunning victory over the invading Persian troops. Athens did it largely by themselves without Spartan help. As they celebrated their victory an Athenian general, Themistocles, may have been the only Athenian to realize the Persians would be back and the next time Athens would need help.

    Peter Green does a superb job in assimilating the well-documented wars between Greece and Persia early in the Fifth Century BC. Relying on the ancient writings of Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch and others, Green analyzes every situation during this period. We know not just names, places and dates but how strategy unfolded and a careful analysis that the leaders had to evaluate. War became like a chess game of position, analysis of the strengths and weakness of all positions, and a bit of guile. The stakes were high. Persia had the mightiest empire ever created. Greece wasn't even a nation, but a collection of city-states, often at war with each other. The Persian threat would force Greeks to come together as a nation. Could they do it? Green takes us through the trials and travails of this effort. Many Greek city-states collaborated with the Persians. In fact, the whole of northern and central Greece did. In many cases ousted leaders sought Persian help to get back to power; they may have been at war with other city-states; or they may simply have chosen earth and water to death and destruction.

    The Athenians and Spartans would have to overcome their differences to get rid of the Persian menace from Greece. At times they would work together but generally as soon as the immediate threat was over they would go their separate ways again. When the city-states could come together they became a formidable force for the Persians to deal with. They were better armed and superior in close-in battles. The Persians had the superior cavalry and had numerical superiority. Whichever side could exploit its strengths the best would win.

    The book isn't without its faults, however. I thought there was a little too much second guessing of Herodotus and there was way too much use of foreign expressions, which became quite annoying. But these criticisms are minor. The book is a superb re-enactment of these classic wars that helped shape Western civilization.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of Western History
    Ernle Bradford, in "Thermopylae, the Battle for the West," opined that European history began with the Greco-Persian Wars. Indeed, had Athens and Sparta lost, the Persians' Westward advance might have been stopped only by the Atlantic Ocean.

    Victor Davis Hanson has written a number of works (e.g. "The Western Way of War" and "An Autumn of War") which posit that when East meets West, the outcome is a foregone conclusion--the West wins hands down every time. It is quite easy to get caught up in the mystique of Western military supremacy, but this book serves as a bracing antidote to that way of thinking.

    The eve of the Greco-Persian Wars found Greece a hodgepodge of bickering and warring city-states, and Persia a monolithic, world-spanning empire capable of fabulous logistical and engineering feats. For example: an ancient "Suez Canal," two pontoon bridges across the two mile breadth of the Hellespont, a supply line which kept an army of over 100,000 provisioned in enemy territory for over a year.

    The Greeks on the other hand engaged in near-suicidal bickering and backstabbing, and when the crunch came, two small city-states (Athens and Sparta) fielded woefully inadequate armies and navies to face the Persian juggernaut. The rest, with few exceptions, either temporized or went over to the enemy.

    Five great battles decided the fate of the Persians: Marathon, the twin battles of Thermopylae & Artemiseum, Salamis, and Plataea. Thermopylae was a glorious but devastating defeat, Artemiseum a draw, and the other three hairbreadth victories.

    Green displays great scholarship but nonetheless makes his narrative a gripping read. He displays none of the stilted, lifeless prose of his predecessor A.R. Burn ("Persia and the Greeks") as he brings to life the epic struggle which gave birth to the West as we know it. Read this book and see how close we all came to speaking Persian ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520205731
    Subjects:  1. 519-465 or 4 B.C    2. Ancient - Greece    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. King of Persia,    6. Military History - Ancient    7. Salamis, Battle of, Greece, 480 B.C    8. Xerxes   


    Homer on Life and Death
    by Jasper Griffin
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 December, 1983)
    list price: $29.95 -- our price: $29.95
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars To read it is to love it.
    How this little gem has been so completely overlooked I simply do not understand.I have to confess that I am as guilty as the next person.As an inveterate reader of the Iliad in translation and of everything I can get my hands on about the Iliad, I had somehow missed this.I first saw it obliquely referenced in the New York Review of Books.I can not even remember what the book being reviewed was.But i Do recall that Griffin's book was mentioned in a footnote.

    It took me a couple of weeks to read it -- though it clocks in at barely over 200 pages.Not because it it tough slogging, but because the ideas are so startling and so ingenious that you have to sit back, savour them, re-read them, and then press on.I kept my favorite translation of the Iliad to hand (Fagles) and spent hours cross-referencing Griffin and Fagles texts in their respective margins.Now when I pick up the Iliad in search of a memorable passage I have a note that takes me straight to Griffin's lucid, limip analysis.

    As a society we do not understand death very well -- and we are not prepared for it.I first confronted this when my mother died.I ralized then that nothing I had learned, nothing I had ever read, prepared me properly for the event.I wish I had read Griffin on the subject before that fateful day.At one point he writes, "...the Iliad is a poem of death rather than of fighting.The subject of the poem is life and death, constrasted with the greatest possible sharpness."

    He writes passionately at all times -- and, on ocassion, almost polemically.But his opinions are always founded on the most careful analysis of the text.

    Here he is on the value of Greek myth:

    "Greek myth is distinguished from others above all by the dominant position within it of myths about heroes....They illuminate...the potential and limitations of man in the world.In the noble speeches and tragic insights of a Sarpedon, a Hector, an Achilles, we see both the terrible and unalterable laws of life and death, and also the greatness which man can achieve in facing them.The loyalty of Penelope, the endurance of Odysseus, the self-sacrifice of Patroclus, even the tragic dignity of the guilty Helen: all show us that amid suffering and disaster human nature can remain noble and almost god-like."

    Griffin also translates EVERYTHING.Many of his era, including the magisterial Syme, would hardly have deigned to do this -- assuming that even the lay reader should have a knowledge of Latin or Greek. But not Jasper Griffin.Thank you Jasper.....

    If you love the Iliad, you will LOVE Griffin.I also discovered a reference to this book at the end of "Who Killed Homer".Now, depending upon your view of Hanson (I love him) that may either damn or exalt Griffin in your eyes.But for what it is worth, Hanson listed this little book as one of the ten books on antiquity that MUST be read.And he is right!! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0198140266
    Sales Rank: 462855
    Subjects:  1. Ancient and Classical    2. Greek Literature    3. History & Surveys - Ancient & Classical    4. Literature - Classics / Criticism    5. Literature: Classics   


    Nature and Culture in the Iliad: The Tragedy of Hector
    by James M. Redfield
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1994)
    list price: $23.95 -- our price: $23.95
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars he got it right
    I found much to disagree about when I read this book, but the conflict it posed was part of what made it such a great read (its often boring to read an author you completely agree with).Of all the commentaries on the IliadI've seen, this is the one that gets the central point right.Most peoplefocus their critic of the Iliad by assumingit is the story of Achilles. In fact, it isn't, there is another, perhaps more powerful, story lurking;in the finest tradition of Shakespearean drama the Iliad is fundamentallythe tragedy of Hector.It is this duality which makes the Iliad one of thegreat books in human history and nature and culture is one of the few booksthat, in addition to providing some informative background on homericculture, stresses this point. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0822314223
    Sales Rank: 301671
    Subjects:  1. Achilles (Greek mythology) in literature    2. Ancient and Classical    3. Characters    4. Epic poetry, Greek    5. Hector    6. Hector (Legendary character) in literature    7. History and criticism    8. Homer    9. Iliad    10. Knowledge    11. Literary Criticism    12. Literature - Classics / Criticism    13. Ancient (Classical) Greek    14. Ancient Greece    15. Novels, other prose & writers    16. Poetry & poets: classical, early & medieval   


    The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy
    by Bernard M.W. Knox
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1983)
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Enthralling Examination of the Sophoclean Hero
    Recently, I've read a fair number of books relating to Greek tragedy and of them all this is the best. In it Knox offers a profound and compelling examination of the nature of the heroes of Sophocles' plays. His arguments are persuasive, being based on a study of the actual words that occur and recur throughout the plays. Thus, there is quite a bit of ancient Greek quoted in the original; fortunately, it is all translated so that the argument can be easily followed by those who have no Greek.

    Unlike most scholars, Knox writes beautifully. The English is unhampered by theoretical jargon -- there is no mention of hermeneutic circles, metatheatre, metanarratives, or
    metapsychology. In an age when Martin Heidegger appears to be the model of style in scholastic writing, Knox's elegant
    and clear writing makes for a refreshing change indeed.

    Another refreshing change is that he treats Sophocles as though he were an ancient poet rather than as though he were an ancient structural anthropologist with an interest in depth psychology, something which is almost eccentric nowadays.Moreover, Knox's passion for Sophocles is palpable and infectious.

    So, an excellent read. If you read only one book about Sophocles, this is the one I would recommend.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Sophocles
    First, a caveat: Knox very emphatically examines Sophocles on the basis of what Sophocles actually wrote.This has the virtue of accuracy and of keeping out fringe theorizing, but the vice of adding a modest Greek component.Knox always puts the Greek in a parenthetical (i.e., you'll never fail to understand a sentence because of the Greek), but there is a lot of it.If you don't know any Greek, this might encumber your reading somewhat.

    Having said that, _The Heroic Temper_ is a fantastic little book.Knox spends two chapters discussing the "Sophoclean Hero" in terms of all seven surviving tragedies, showing that the same character types, the same narrative tropes and even very consistently the same vocabulary is used in all seven.He compares and contrasts Sophocles and Aeschylus (especially with respect to "Prometheus Bound") and analyzes the Sophoclean hero in terms of Sophocles' political context and religion.

    This alone is eye-opening and ought to precede any reading of Sophocles, but Knox then goes on to discuss in greater detail "Antigone" (two chapters) and "Philoctetes" and "Oedipus at Colonus" (one chapter apiece).I wish I'd had this book in college -- it's worth more than all the lectures I heard on Greek tragedy.

    The six chapters were in fact originally six lectures, and (Greek parentheticals aside) the book retains a verbal, even conversational tone.Well written, insightful, powerful -- the book is a winner. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520049578
    Sales Rank: 102951
    Subjects:  1. General    2. Greek Literature    3. Performing Arts   


    Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography
    by Peter Green
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1992)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Editorial Review

    There's no shortage of biographies available on Alexander the Great, but PeterGreen's Alexander of Macedon is one of the finest. The prose is crisp and clear, andwithin a few pages readers become absorbed in the world that made Alexander, and then the story of how Alexander remadeit. Green writes, "Alexander's true genius was as a field-commander: perhaps, takenall in all, the most incomparable general the world has ever seen. His gift for speed, improvisation,variety of strategy; his cool-headedness in a crisis; his ability to extract himself from the most impossible situations; his mastery of terrain; his psychological ability to penetrate the enemy's intentions--all these qualities place him at the very head of the Great Captains of history." ... Read more

    Reviews (65)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Alexander, old school
    This is a very detailed book about Alexander, the events immediately before his birth in Macedonia and his epic rise to immortality. Peter Green is no doubt a very keen observer of history and paints a very detailed picture of the different moral and social values that were present during Alexander's time.

    Be warned though, this book was originally written in the early 70's and the style of writing is more textbook/academic than the current vogue of historical biography Ala, Robin Lane Fox: Alexander the Great and Tom Holland: Rubicon. Some serious students of Alexander may feel that some of the ideas presented have moved on somewhat as well.

    Two areas that would have greatly assisted this undertaking are:

    More maps and diagrams would have been helpful to get a better grasp of scale. What little maps there were focused almost entirely on the movements of Alexander and didn't really trace out movements of his various Generals etc.

    A character folio at the back giving a brief overview of all characters presented in the book would have been infinitely helpful. Periodic appearances by minor characters throughout the narrative as well as the proliferation of similar names caused some confusion at times.

    All in all a very enjoyable book but not undertaken lightly. I would recommend this to readers who already have a basic knowledge of Alexander, his life otherwise the sheer volume of detailed info may overwhelm.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but somewhat long and droning.
    First off, I am not an Alexander expert.This is the first bio of Alexander that I've read.Second, it's obvious that the author has done a lot of research on Alexander and knows his topic.I have to say, however, that while parts of the story are gripping, a lot of it is long and boring.It comes down to this---once Alexander leaves home to essentially conquer the world, the book is 90% devoted to the military maneuvers.You get very little flavor for what clothes and foods were used.You get very little cultural information that doesn't relate to the military or how Alexander offended or rallied his troops.I'm not a big military buff...I like to get to know the PERSON in the biography and feel as if I know him.The tales of executions and rivalries are my favorite bits...but most of this is Alexander moving from locale to locale.Also, if you're not an expert on the ancient world, the author can quickly lose you with a lot of references to ancient cities or areas that unfamiliar to people living in the modern world.The maps focus tightly on areas so you can't get a sense of how everything fits together.The author's prose is exciting enough...but the endless military stuff bores me.If you want to know what it might be like to meet with and speak with Alexander, this book won't help you understand who he was...only what he did.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Various Facets of Greatness
    If anyone in the history of the world ever deserved to be titled "The Great" it would be Alexander III of Macedon.Born in 356 B.C. to Phillip II and Olympias, Alexander would forever make his name great by leaving Greece to conquer Persia: the largest known empire in antiquity stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean to India. Peter Green's comprehensive biography covers the political and cultural backgrounds surrounding the events of Alexander's life to give the reader a clear picture of the complexeties of his character, the sources of his genius, and the significance of his achievements.

    Peter Green is one of the most respected scholars of classical studies who received his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge where he eventually worked as Director of Classics.Peter Green is presently a tenured professor at the University of Texas, Austin.Not only is this book saturated with important factual information about Alexander and his time, its prose is easy to read with a good level of wit and humor.The book thoroughly explains the political and cultural context in which Macedonia came to power and its impact on the Greek city states.The book is also accompanied with maps detailing Alexander's travels and major battles.

    This is an important work that covers in detail the various facets of Alexander's life: not a simple task for a man who accomplished so much in only 13 years of time; a man who, during that time, had covered almost 40,000 miles of mostly inhospitable territory on horse or on foot with an army varying from 60,000 to over 100,000 men.The book shows that Alexander was not simply a brilliant general who never lost a battle even under overwhelming odds: he was a brilliant politician, an explorer, and a philosopher.Alexander's voyages were not just conquests but explorations into a world that few Greeks knew of.His army was always accompanied by scientists, cartographers, philosophers, etc.: it was a royal court in motion.

    This is a great book and Peter Green has done an outstanding job.I strongly recommend this biography over others for its comprehensiveness and smooth prose which makes reading it enjoyable for readers of almost any age: it's a great buy.

    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520071662
    Subjects:  1. 356-323 B.C    2. Alexander,    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Generals    7. Greece    8. Historical - General    9. History    10. the Great,   


    The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates' Conversations and Plato's Writings
    by Eva Brann
    Hardcover (May, 2004)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $15.72
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    Isbn: 1589880080
    Sales Rank: 118173
    Subjects:  1. Criticism    2. Dialogues    3. History & Surveys - Ancient & Classical    4. Philosophy    5. Plato    6. Plato.   


    The Oldest Dead White European Males: And Other Reflections on the Classics
    by Bernard Knox
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 April, 1993)
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Dr. Knox to the rescue
    Dr. Knox first presents a lively defense of the study of the ancient Greeks as an important part of a liberal arts education - there's value in the ancients if you look beyond the stereotypes.Next he defends the liberal arts education itself - again value beyond the stereotypes.Finally, he defends the modern Greeks against his fellow Classics scholars, who surprisingly have been perpetuating a stereotype about how visiting Greece is disappointing and learning modern Greek is damaging to the "ear."

    All told, an entertaining read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An eloquent defense of classical studies
    Dr. Knox dares to stand up for the ancient Greeks and their pivotal influence on Western society in this rather short collection of three essays.His message is largely a response to the modern calls from multiculturalists and "radical feminists" downplaying or even condemning the importance of the humanities in today's academic world.The overspecialization that is the inevitable product of multiculturalism sees only the faults in ancient Greek society--slavery, a limited and inferior role for women, the crudities of ritual sacrifice, an undemocratic democracy, etc..Knox acknowledges the validity of such criticism, but he argues cogently that Greek culture and its pervading influence on the West cannot be examined solely through a narrow lens.Some modern critics have even gone so far as to label ancient Greek society a reactionary force enforcing conformity.This, as Knox explains very well, is ludicrous.The study of the classics has long been the wellspring from which innovative, radical, and even subversivenew ideas emerge. Certainly, ancient Greek society was flawed in certain ways, but the fact remains that this culture bequeathed us the very foundations of our politics, philosophy, drama, rhetoric, science, etc.The very playing field upon which modern critics denigrate the influence of the ancient Greeks was essentially constructed by their long-dead opponents.

    I was most impressed by Knox's analysis of the recent history of the humanities in Western culture.Until the last century, education was largely an aristocratic privilege.The Industrial Revolution set in motion a recomposition of society, one that now dwells more and more on "practical" education; it is this social metamorphosis that has done much to call into question the role of the humanities in education today.Do not throw out the baby with the bath water, Knox warns.The world we have created reflects the vast influence of the ancient Greeks, but more importantly, that influence is even still working actively to challenge modern thinkers.While we have learned a great deal from the culture of the oldest dead white Europeans, we yet have much more to learn from them.Even should the humanities and classical studies be suppressed tomorrow, their value, beauty, and utility are such that they would soon return to the forefront of intellectual and academic studies despite the wishes of modern critics.

    I must say that I was disturbed by the widespread disdain for the history of "dead white guys" while immersed in my own postgraduate studies.Multiculturalism and the new social history represents a noble effort to tell the stories of men and women who have been voiceless until now, but the end result threatens to pigeon-hole and fragment academia.The study of the classics provides an education in democracy and citizenship; herein lies the secret of its eternally important influence.I rejoice in reading such an outspoken defense of the importance of the humanities, and I believe all traditionalists will admire and be inspired by the essays collected here. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0393034925
    Sales Rank: 690807
    Subjects:  1. Ancient and Classical    2. Civilization, Western    3. Greek Literature    4. Greek influences    5. History and criticism    6. Literature - Classics / Criticism    7. Literature, Modern    8. Literature: Classics    9. Theory, etc    10. Ancient (Classical) Greek    11. Ancient Greece    12. Cultural studies    13. European history: BCE to c 500 CE    14. Family & relationships   


    Oedipus at Thebes : Sophocles` Tragic Hero and His Time
    by Bernard Knox
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (30 March, 1998)
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is a true tour de force.
    The superlative reviews from publications as disparate as the New York Times, the New Yorker and Hellenic World (!)should be sufficient inducement to convince anyone with the least interest in Sophocles and "Oedipus Tyrannus" to buy this book.

    Bernard Knox is perhaps the greatest living classicist and he may just be one of the greatest of all time.He writes with an ease and lucidity that renders the most difficult subject available to the lay reader.He has an uncanny facility to sum up in a paragraph a subject that has occupied him for twenty or thirty pages.Indeed one of the delights of this book is that at the end of each section there appears a wonderfully pithy summation.

    When this book was first published it (surprisingly) received immediate and positive reviews from the New York Times and the New Yorker.But it was almost universally ignored by the classical community who were perhaps annoyed at the twitting they received in Knox's introduction.Dismayed by the appearance of an article entitled "The Carrot in Classical Antiquity", Knox had lashed out at the "excessive technicality" of his colleagues.This will remind many of us of Victor Davis Hanson's brilliantly polemical attack on the classical establishment in "Who Killed Homer".

    Time, however, was on Knox' side and he went, on, as I said, to become a giant in his field.In 1998, "Oedipus at Thebes" was republished for a new and grateful generation of students.

    This is a true tour de force.Knox took as his starting point a statement made by Walter Headlam.Headlam had claimed that "when embarking on the elucidation of a Greek text, the scholar should first learn the text by heart and the read the whole of Greek literature looking for parallel passages."Sounds almost preposterous. Right?Well Knox actually did this.The result is a reading of "Oedipus Tyrannus" that is not only breath-taking in its magisterial sweep, but which, as far as I am concerned offers the first coherent explanation of what the play is about (but see also Charles Segal's sensitive reading - "Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge"). Knox has lovingly burnished Sophocles somewhat tarnished reputation and has ensured that Oedipus Tyrannus takes its place in the pantheon of the greatest works of literature.

    But Knox is also careful to point out the relevance of the play for modern readers -- yet another reminder (and it is despairing that we need them) that the classics should be taught in our schools and read by all of us.Here is Knox on the subject: "A play, however, which suggests that, for all its great achievements, human ingenuity may be fatally flawed, does not seem irrelevant for an age that lives in dread of atomic and biological warfare, not to mention the nightmare possibilities offered by the latest developments in genetics."

    The reason I read this little book is that I had started to read Sophocles' plays in the Chicago collection, "The Complete Greek Tragedies", edited by Grene and Lattimore.I became immediately bogged down in "Oedipus Tyrannus" and I began to suspect he had more to do with the translation than anything else.

    The dust jacket of this collection contains superlatives about Grene's translations.We are gushingly told at one point that the Greekless reader needs "no other translation."Well allow me to politely differ. As I read Knox's book, using it as a tool to annotate Grene's translation, I came to see that time and again Grene had, for what could only be poetic purposes, obscured the true meaning of the text. In so doing he presents a version of the play that is VERY far from what Sophocles must have intended.

    So, for those of you about to embark at University (or at home) on a study of Sophocles let me suggest two things.1.Buy Knox and read him FIRST.2. Buy Fagles' translation of Sophocles and not Grene (it is anything but unpoetic as has been suggested elsewhere).You won't be disappointed.I think you will emerge with far more respect for Sophocles and Greek society in general.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A VERY GOOD OEDIPAL READ, for what it is...
    This is a very good book on the subject of Oedipus, but not quite the best book on Sophocles or Oedipus. Iliked both Bates' "Sophocles-poet and dramatist" and Weinstock's "Sophokles" a wee bit better, butthat may be just my personal taste. Knox has a very bad habit of insistingthat, by playing with the translations of tense and the shifting ofmeaning, and the redistributing of stress in a given sentence, that wholenew meanings of the text can be 'discovered'. This is a very lazy,haphazard way to engage in critiquing, for it is not research. And Fagle'stranslation is plodding. Takes the poetry right out of the text.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The primary source on Oedipus and Greek Tragedy!
    This is by far the best (critical) text ever written on Sophocles and Greek tragedy. This book delves into the Oedipus myth and covers many themes in the Oedipus, particularly the primary theme between fate and free will, which is a direct refutation to Freud and his conception of the myth: in "The Interpretation of Dreams," Freud labels the Oedipus a "tragedy of fate."His claim is certainly controversial and Knox deals with it in a very thorough manner.Oedipus at Thebes not only displays an apt critical analysis, but also displays a very unique writing style: very elequoent, yet easy to understand.This text is useful for research as well as for pleasure purposes. Bernard Knox also delivers a wonderful analysis ofthe Oedipus in the Introduction/Notes to Fagles' translation of "The Three Theban Plays." ... Read more

    Isbn: 0300074239
    Sales Rank: 535384
    Subjects:  1. Ancient and Classical    2. Ancient, Classical & Medieval    3. Greek Literature    4. Heroes in literature    5. In literature    6. Literary Criticism    7. Literature - Classics / Criticism    8. Oedipus (Greek mythology) in l    9. Oedipus (Greek mythology) in literature    10. Oedipus Rex    11. Sophocles    12. Thebes (Greece)    13. Tragedy    14. Tragedy (Drama)    15. Literary Criticism & Collections / Ancient & Classical   


    Word and Action : Essays on the Ancient Theater
    by Bernard Knox
    Paperback (01 August, 1986)
    list price: $22.95
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    Isbn: 0801834090
    Sales Rank: 582930
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ancient and Classical    3. Ancient, Classical & Medieval    4. Greek Literature    5. Literature - Classics / Criticism    6. Philosophy    7. Theater    8. Literary Criticism & Collections / Ancient & Classical   

    Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn from Myths
    by Mary Lefkowitz
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 November, 2003)
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $18.90
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A treasure cove of links
    Shelly said, "We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have Greece."
    This text illustrates without pretension or obtuse stilted language these powerful sentiments. Loose ends, nunances, questions, and epiphanies are continually addressed in the readers mind. The notions and ideas presented to me over the last half century via formal education, religious indoctrination, and personal experiences take on a new clarity when reading this outstanding review of the Greek dieties and how they formed and influenced our cultural foundations.
    This is a work that is not easily read but one that is beautifully construed to creat maximum stimulation of ones thought processes.
    Simply a must for any personal libary that is concern with the evolution of personal believes, knowledge and understanding of the world around us.
    Thank you Ms. Lefkowitz

    2-0 out of 5 stars God doesn't love you and it serves you right
    So what does world-renowned classics Professor Mary Lefkowitz do when she is not criticizing Martin Bernal?Apparently working on this book on Greek Gods.To our secular and Christian eyes Greek divinities appear frivolous and spiteful.With their promiscuity and their vendettas they appear very human, except that they are immortal and they can kill people with lightning bolts.It has been hard for people to think that the Classical world could have taken them seriously.But in fact over the past few decades historians such as Paul Veyne, Robin Lane Fox and Ramsay MacMullen have argued that "Paganism" was taken very seriously by its adherents.It was not in intellectual decline or crisis when Constantine appeared on the scene, while what we might consider secular or rational thought was only that of a marginal unimportant minority. So far, so good.Lefkowitz seeks to argue that the Greek Gods are not frivolous and are not petty.In much Classical literature they may appear to be slow to recognize the suffering of humanity.But this is illusory.The Gods are not divinised humans, they are clearly superior beings in every respect.The ages and eras of humans are but moments to them, they cannot be expected to have our sense of time.More importantly, the world was not created for humans, who are but minor players on the earthly stage.There is such a thing as divine justice, but it is narcissistic and sentimental to assume that it revolves around right treatment of humans.By their own, inevitably superior, standards the Gods act with justice.Lefkowitz is rather attracted to this ideal, since the absence of what we might consider justice is a realistic way of viewing how the world works.Homer and others provide a grimly truthful theodicy, whereas later ideas from Plato, the Stoics or Ovid unduly and sentimentally subordinate God to man.

    Over and over again Lefkowitz tells how in Classical Literature the manipulations of the Gods are the key to the events that happen.Lefkowitz asserts that when correctly viewed all the acts that happen show the seriousness of the Pantheon.It is just and proper that the Trojans are punished, their city destroyed, their population slaughtered and their women raped and sold into slavery because they are all collectively guilty of the abduction of Helen.But it is also just that the Gods extend the Trojan war and inevitably kill many of the Greeks attacking the city so that the Gods can fulfill a promise to Achilles' mother so that Achilles can Achilles can be covered in glory (before meeting his own inevitable death). And it is also just that the Greeks are punished for not rebuking one of their own for raping Cassandra in a temple dedicated to Athena.Such violations of ritual purity are more important than the offence done to Cassandra, who is later murdered without any of the Gods stepping in to intercede.It is proper that the seven sons and the seven daughters of Niobe are killed because Niobe insults the honor of the mother of Artemis and Apollo.It is likewise also proper that Aphrodite drives Phaedra mad with lust for her stepson because he insulted Aphrodite when swearing himself to eternal celibacy.It is proper that Oedipus and Antigone and Agamemnon meet the fates that they do because they have been cursed by the Gods.

    What is wrong with this account?Part of the problem is that much of the book consists of summaries of Classical literature.Lefkowitz clearly belongs to the late Allan Bloom school of shallow, tendentious and interminable paraphrase as we read her accounts of Hesiod, the Illiad, The Odyssey, the Aenied, The Orestian Trilogy, the Oedipean trilogy, the story of Jason and the Argonausts and the Golden Ass.Oddly however, we do not examine Prometheus Bound, nor do we really get an idea of why writers changed myths until after the great age of Classical literature.This refusal to consider change makes Classical literature less ambiguous than it actually is.There is also a certain tendentiousness.Lefkowitz dismisses the God/Human matings as marginal and ultimately inconsequential to the divine life.But sex implies an equality between Gods and mortals; otherwise bestiality would be far more common than it is.And Lefkowitz does not really explain why Cupid asked for, and obtained, immortality for Psyche.But the larger problem is with Lefkowitz's concept of justice. By what criterion of justice can the population of Troy be punished while Aphrodite and Eris get off scot free?It was Eris who started the war by throwing the Apple of Discord and Aphrodite who promised Paris what was not hers to give.To argue that because Aphrodite is divine her actions are not frivolous does not convince. What Lefkowitz asserts is not a proper submission to reality, but an undignified abasement to arbitrary power.Far from being realistic it abjures reason and encourages contempt and callous indifference towards a humanity that is treated that way.It is not a coincidence that it was with the rise of Greek democracy that the dramatic view of divine power became more ambiguous, because it was in this period that the population outside a small elite was able to assert some form of dignity.In claiming otherwise, there is something disingenuous about Lefkowitz's comfortable pseudo-stoicism, and her view of tragedy which behind its veneer of toughness resembles academically sanctioned sadism.As Terry Eagleton has written:"By no means all Greek protagonists concede that their suffering is justified, accept their guilt or confess that the calamity follows from their own behaviour.And they are mostly quite right not to do so.It is the theorists of tragedy, not the victims of it, who imagine that they do, or at least that they should." ... Read more

    Isbn: 0300101457
    Sales Rank: 253938
    Subjects:  1. Ancient and Classical    2. Folklore & Mythology - Mythology    3. General    4. History    5. History: World    6. Mythology, Greek    7. Sociology   


    Shame and Necessity (Sather Classical Lectures, Vol 57)
    by Bernard Williams
    Paperback (01 October, 1994)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $19.95
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    Isbn: 0520088301
    Sales Rank: 189569
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ethics in literature    3. Greek poetry    4. History and criticism    5. Literary Criticism    6. Literature - Classics / Criticism    7. Necessity (Philosophy) in lite    8. Necessity (Philosophy) in literature    9. Philosophy, Ancient, in litera    10. Philosophy, Ancient, in literature   


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