The Classics: All You Need to Know, from Zeus's Throne to the Fall of Rome

The Classics: All You Need to Know, from Zeus's Throne to the Fall of Rome

Book rating: 03 Hardback

By (author) Caroline Taggart

List price $14.96

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  • Publisher: Reader's Digest Association
  • Format: Hardback | 169 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 203mm x 19mm | 286g
  • Publication date: 8 July 2010
  • ISBN 10: 1606521322
  • ISBN 13: 9781606521328
  • Sales rank: 611,267

Product description

It's no myth: this lively refresher course fills in all you need to know about ancient studies-from Zeus's throne to the fall of Rome-in pithy little quips. It covers the impressive advances made by Greek and Roman societies, from language to medicine, from art to architecture. You'll learn: The Greek alphabet, from alpha to omega The history and characteristics that define Greek and Roman architecture and its influence on modern building Greek and Latin words, which make up more than 30 percent of the words in the English language, and how you can build your vocabulary by learning the roots The Greek and Roman gods, the mythology surrounding them, and the part these figures play in our culture Almost 1,000 years of Greek and Roman history, from the birth of democracy to Caesar's empire The philosophies taught by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and what their ideas have contributed to the world we live in today How modern cultural staples such as the Olympics were formed by classical literature written by authors such as Homer and Cicero A fascinating introduction to the world that became the foundation for Western Civilization, "The Classics" puts the same information from stuffy textbooks at your fingertips in one entertaining read. Make this and all of the Blackboard Books(tm) a permanent fixture on your shelf, and you'll have instant access to a breadth of knowledge. Whether you need homework help or want to win that trivia game, this series is the trusted source for fun facts.

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Customer reviews

By IntrovertedJen 08 Nov 2010 3

Do you ever find yourself reading along, and when you come to a reference to ancient Greece or Rome, you start scratching your head? With sort of a, "I think I heard something about that somewhere, but I don't remember much about it" kind of thought?

This is the book for you.

Caroline Taggart has put together a short (169 pages) primer/refresher for all that ancient stuff that you used to know but that has fallen by the wayside. Or maybe you never learned it in the first place.

For such a short book, Taggart has packed a surprising amount of information into it. Topics covered include language, mythology, philosophy, history, the arts, the sciences, and a few more things. You won't read the book and be an expert by any means, but you will certainly have a decent base of knowledge to work from.

The book might sound boring, but Taggart's style is actually pretty fun. "Atlas was inhospitable to Perseus (see page 47), who used the head of Medusa to turn him into a mountain range in North Africa, which takes almost as much talent as cutting someone's head off while looking at their reflection in a shield, and makes me think that Perseus could have taught David Copperfield a thing or two." She also occasionally mentions modern-day references to these ancient stories. "The first famous figure to emerge from this was Draco, who has given his name to very harsh measures in any context, as well as to a character in Harry Potter who provokes the audience to hiss whenever he appears."

It's very good for what it is, but after suffering through a 10th-grade English teacher who seemed to think that World Literature meant Greek and Roman Literature and a Greek and Roman Culture cl*** in college, I think I've absorbed all I'm going to absorb on the topic. I won't say that there was nothing new in this book for me--there definitely was--but it wasn't anything that I'll ever remember. The cross-references (see paragraph 5), while a good idea, got distracting on a straight read. They would be invaluable if you were just looking up a quick little reference though.

I do recommend this for anyone who wants to fill in the gaps in their cl***ical knowledge, because it really is a fun book, but it might be a little too basic for someone with a decent working knowledge of the Greeks and Romans already.

Review quote

"A fun resource. It's published by Reader's Digest and has that 'user friendly' feel that I expect from the books they choose to publish. Caroline Taggart explains things in a clear and interesting way that makes it all relevant to today. I wish she had been around when I was in school-would have been more enjoyable than memorizing dry facts and I probably would have remembered more of the details. Serious subjects are presented in a fun and entertaining way." -"Sweeps for Bloggers" (Blog) "Overall, I thought this was a great way to learn (or re-learn) a bit of our ancient history and heritage, while keeping it lighthearted and informative! Recommended!" -The Loud Librarian (Blog)