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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  260 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The ancient Greeks invented democracy, theater, rational science, and philosophy. They built the Parthenon and the Library of Alexandria. They wrote down the timeless myths of Odysseus and Oedipus, and the histories of Leonidas’s three hundred Spartans and Alexander the Great. But understanding these uniquely influential people has been hampered by their diffusion across t ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 13th 2015 by W. W. Norton Company (first published June 9th 2014)
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Jan-Maat
At first I felt that this book was ok, but it grew on me so that now I think it is quite nice and eminently recommendable as a non-threatening introduction to the Ancient Greeks.

Hall has a double approach which structures the book, one broadly chronological, the other ten key characteristics which she thinks typical of the Ancient Greeks (apart from the Spartans who don't have all of them) (view spoiler)
...more
Socraticgadfly
This book looked interesting on the shelves; I thought that, if nothing else, I might learn one or two things, at least, about post-Mycenean, pre-classical Greece, and, since the author is a philosophy prof, get her particular take on the ground zero of western philosophy.

Unfortunately, whopper errors at the start and end of the book mar any good content in the middle.

First, near the start, Hall talks about how small Greece is, at 25,000 square miles, smaller than Portugal or Scotland.

Er, WRONG!
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Mariafrancesca di natura viperesca sta con Mimmo Lucano
Egregia Maria Grazia Carta in Turrisi
Avresti mai immaginato che una tua alunna delle elementari, del biennio ‘58 – ‘60, di quella scuola di semiperiferia morta di fame per ataviche brutte abitudini, a cui aveva dato il colpo di grazia un dopoguerra lunghissimo, un pantano usato da alibi; avresti mai immaginato – dicevo- che quella bambina, piagnona e rompiballe senza il senso della disciplina, avrebbe dovuto riconoscere, alla sua veneranda età, di averle plasmato la sua immagine mentale’ per sem
...more
Peter Mcloughlin
A big subject in a small book. It is difficult to get everything that was important about Greeks in 300 pages but the book does a good job of giving a sketch of why we should still pay attention to the ancient Greeks. The story is not revisionist and in many ways is old school about the Greeks but it is an entertaining synopsis of the highlights of Greek Culture. Pleasurable. See my updates for more details.
David
Professor Hall’s work does not appear to be so much a history as an intellectual history, an important subdivision of the more general enterprise of history. While this is a competent history of the Greeks, through to the conquest of Christianity, it does not offer any new insights.

There is an acknowledgement of the traditional and revisionist approaches to the ancient Greeks in this work. Professor Hall does her best to navigate through these rocky shoals—this they succeed at quiet well. Howev
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Ryan Tyrrell
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book written by a superb author (although her comments on christianity made me feel like she was yelling at me through the pages). My only complaint is the lack of maps/illustrations, as it was extremely difficult to picture so many military campaigns in my head! Her ancient literary commentary was absolutely fantastic.
Daniel Kukwa
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fantastically useful research & teaching tool on Ancient Greece that is also immensely readable...and these two characteristics don't always work in tandem. I thoroughly enjoyed the concise chapters, the categories of analysis, and the smooth flowing prose style.
Regina Beard
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind by Edith Hall is an exceptional review of the impact of the ancient Greeks and clearly describes how these innovators gained their knowledge and scattered their culture abroad to what ultimately becomes known as the Roman Empire. Hall uses ten characteristics unique to the ancient Greeks and how each of these characteristics manifest themselves, especially in literature and archaeology. Hall begins the ta

...more
Emre Sevinç
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ancient Greece culture is one of the pillars of modern Western civilization, and this book is a great introduction to almost two thousand years of history that still shapes our culture.

The author lays out in the very beginning of the book what she considers as the essential components of ancient Greek culture and character, and then proceeds in chronological fashion to show us how parts of ancient Greek history relates to those components. It is not easy to summarize such a long segment of histo
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Kristin Schöllkopf
Die alten Griechen sind in der Geschichte mehr als bedeutend. Doch was wissen wir eigentlich über die Erfinder der Demokratie? Edith Halls Roman „Die alten Griechen“ soll alle Fragen beantworten, die wie je über die alten Griechen hatten…

Edith Hall schildert in zehn Kapiteln, wie das griechische Volk geformt wurde und sich weiterentwickelt hat. Dabei wird dem Leser ein Einblick in die historischen Zahlen und Fakten gewährt, wie auch in die Literatur der damaligen Zeit. Hier muss ich anmerken, da
...more
Jessie
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say that I knew much of anything about the ancient Greeks before reading this book (other than mythology) - so I was coming into this as a blank slate. Hall does an incredible job of covering thousands of years of history, across dozens of regions, including a multitude of people, and yet manages through it all to keep a brisk and engaging pace. I was worried this would be an academic slog to suffer through and it was NOT. Hall creatively set up each chapter to focus on one time period, ...more
Lockett
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent intellectual history of the Greeks and the Hellenic world...the subtitle: From Bronze Age seafarers to Navigators of the Mind says a lot. The last two chapters: Greek Minds and Roman Power, and Pagan Greeks and Christians I found particularly interesting - how the change in world thinking came about and how Greek thought still resonates in today's world. A very pleasant and thoughtful read for vacation time.
Jeff
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb one volume introduction to the world of all the famous Greeks we've all at least gained a slight familiarity with, plus an overview of archaeological discoveries over the ages. This book barely scratches the surface but gives a lot of directions on where to go next. Whether your interest lies in Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Herodotus, Alexander the Great, science, philosophy, drama or history, this fine book will whet your appetite for further exploration.
Phillip
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting cultural/intellectual history of millenia of Greek history, broadly conceived as including everyone who fits within the wide sphere of Hellenic culture from the 12th century Mycenaeans to the collapse of Hellenism under Byzantine Christianity. As such, this is a broad overview that offers only minimal analysis of any particular element or text from Greek culture. However, what I really admire about Hall's approach is that she focuses on how the Greek relationship with the ...more
Tallianna Vanamee
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sachbuch
Wer waren sie wirklich?

Sie waren die Erfinder der Demokratie, Begründer der Philosophie, Schöpfer unsterblicher Mythen und Dramen – die alten Griechen haben das Fundament unserer Zivilisation gelegt und somit auch unsere moderne Welt geprägt. Doch was genau war das Erfolgsgeheimnis der griechischen Völker, was hat sie – über alle politischen und kulturellen Grenzen hinweg – angetrieben? Und was verbindet uns mit ihnen? (Klappentext)

Was machte einen Griechen zu einem Griechen? Dieser Frage geht d
...more
Ian Williams
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Usually, books about Ancient Greece concentrate on the 4th – 5th century BC, the golden age of Athens – Periclean democracy, the wars with Sparta and Persia, the philosophical insights of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, the scientific discoveries of Democritus and the mathematical insights of Pythagoras.

However, this book ranges much further than that and gives an overall view of the extent of Greek civilization. Edith Hall shows how the Mycenaean’s predated and created classical Greece; how Alex
...more
Alessandra
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What amazing book. Very well written and lightly going through 2000 years of cultural history. The love for the Greek culture shines throughout. I think it is particularly interesting to read how the Greeks went though 3 big transitions due to Alexander the great, the Romans and finally Christianity. while in the first two cases Greek culture remained dominant, in the last it wasn't, though it did inform Christian culture in particular with Neoplatonism and Stoicism (Stoicism has also big parall ...more
Josh
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent overview on what the author identifies as various aspects of 'greekness' as percieved by the ancient greeks, starting in the time of heroes and Homeric verse, and ending as Greece makes it's transition from Pagan to Christian. This is not a proper history, rather a look at the ancient Greek sense of being through the lends of the existing documents and archaeological records that we have.

I enjoyed it considerably, especially as I prepare to dive deeper into source material via my s
...more
Lupo
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, storia
Una storia delle idee. Libro molto bello che fa la storia dei Greci non tanto attraverso fatti bellici o lotte politiche, quanto attraverso la cultura dei Greci così come si evolve dal VIII secolo a.C. all'avvento del cristianesimo. Il libro è diviso in dieci capitoli che, seguendo l'andamento temporale, propongono ognuno la lettura di una delle dieci qualità che l'autrice riconosce agli antichi Greci, dall'intraprendenza alla curiosità, all'individualismo, etc. Ne esce un mondo che, se ce ne fo ...more
Simon Dobson
The history and effect of Greece told through ten claimed characteristics of the Greek mind and civilisation. It's a strong claim and, while it makes for a reasonable read, doesn't quite pull off the effect that the author intended. It's hard say why, as the writing is clear and as erudite as one would expect from a classics professor at a leading university. Perhaps it's the lack of any clear necessity in choosing these particular traits, which leaves the whole assemblage feeling perhaps a litt ...more
Claire
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introductory book on Ancient Greek History. Picked it up in a small book store on the beautiful island of Amorgos while on our hiking vacation in Greece. I never was much interested in Greek history/ mythology before, but after having been to Greece, I am just fascinated by the subject. This is one that I will read again to absorb more.
Amber
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Edith Hall convincingly presents her case that the Ancient Greeks can be encapsulated by 10 key attributes, and her inviting, playful prose is delightful to read. Whilst the title may imply that the book is aimed at those new who are new to Classics, Hall's attention to detail and ability to draw comparisons across time and space makes this book refreshing reading for all classicists.
Lorenz Risk
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Illustrative, informative, subjective, a pleasure to read.
Angie
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I mean, it wasn’t terrible...
Russell Berg
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
A survey that lacks focus and drive.
Peter Shirley
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very pleasant read. More info on the Greeks before the Persian War than most surveys.
Elin
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting read
Dorothy Abelson
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This truly was an introduction for me of Greek history. It was interesting, formatted in an understandable way and am now encouraged and interested in reading more Greek history.
David Whittlestone
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I wanted a good comprehensive overview of ancient Greece and in this book I got exactly that.

Hall enumerates 10 characteristics of the Greeks and uses these as underlying themes for her 10 chapters, each one handling a different part of the history of Greece, but also a different part of Greece. This serves to underline the disparate nature of ancient Greece, the city states that were never really unified and yet that had their origins in a common ancestry. This in itself is a major lesson abou
...more
Ben
Nov 08, 2016 rated it liked it
A very broad history and a somewhat dry one too. Parts of this book make a hot Peloponnesian August day seem like a tropical wet season storm. Shame, since this is one of, if not the, most exciting intellectual periods in all of human history. The information is all there, yet you have to make your own (mental) fun as you slog through the somewhat uninspiring writing-style. The Athens and Sparta sections are good, and the post-classical-Greece chapters were informative to those of us who don't k ...more
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“The Open Society of Athens In democratic Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, Greek civilization reached the apex of creativity. Perhaps alone among the Greek communities studied in this book, the classical Athenians demonstrated their ample endowment with every one of the ten characteristics that defined the ancient Greek mind-set. They were superb sailors, insatiably curious, and unusually suspicious of individuals with any kind of power. They were deeply competitive, masters of the spoken word, enjoyed laughing so much that they institutionalized comic theater, and were addicted to pleasurable pastimes. Yet the feature of the Athenian character that underlies every aspect of their collective achievement is undoubtedly their openness—to innovation, to adopting ideas from outside, and to self-expression.” 0 likes
“The Babylonians had known about Pythagoras’s theorem centuries before Pythagoras was born. The” 0 likes
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