The Rise of the GreeksPaperback
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- Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
- Format: Paperback | 416 pages
- Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 32mm | 666g
- Publication date: 1 October 2001
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1842122657
- ISBN 13: 9781842122655
- Edition: New edition
- Edition statement: New edition
- Illustrations note: 47 B/W Photo\Illu(s),13 Map(s)
In this challenging book Michael Grant sets out to discover the extraordinary epoch between 1000 and 494 BC, a period which he shows was one of the most creative in history. He takes the reader on an intriguing detective trail to understand the world of the early Greeks, a people who are to be found not only within the boundaries of modern Greece, but also in parts of Asia Minor, Italy, Sicily and Russia, scattered in hundreds of independent city-states, united by common blood, customs, language and religion. Michael Grant discusses the economic and social roles of slaves and women, often seen as mysterious, polluting elements in these male-dominated societies, in curious contrast to their powerful role in mythology and literature. In a civilization where leisure was thought to be 'more desirable and more fully an end than business', there was time for outstanding artistic and intellectual developments, notably the pottery of Protogeometric and subsequent epochs and the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet (after half a millenium of illiteracy) which enabled Homer's Iliad and Odyssey to be recorded.
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Michael Grant is a highly successful and renowned historian of the ancient world. He has held many academic posts including those of Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University; Vice Chancellor of The Queen's University, Belfast and Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum. He is a Doctor of Letters at Dublin and a Doctor of Laws at Belfast. He has also been President of the Classical Association of England, the Virgil Society and the Royal Numismatic Society, and is a Medallist of the American Numismatic Society. He lives and writes in Italy.
In this comprehensive and fast-paced account of pre-fifth-century Greece, Grant, prolific author of popular histories of antiquity (History of Rome, 1978; History of Ancient Israel, 1984) again proves that erudition need not be pedantic or dull. Ancient Greece, like Renaissance Italy, presents a tough narrative problem to the historian who has to tell a single story about a culture spread among countless very individual city-states. Grant manages to steer a perilous course between the chaos of ethnography and the inaccurate order of an Athens-centric view. Though the literary remains and later history make it difficult to get out from under the shadow of Athens. Grant shifts our perspective and makes us see that great city as "only one of a number of outstanding centres." His narrative owes its clarity to his use of the guidebook approach to history: he divides his story geographically, rather than chronologically, with chapters on Athens, the Peloponnese, Eastern and Central Aegean, etc., with each geographical designation further divided into city-states and islands. Within each chapter, he covers mythic origins and developed religious practices, changing political and economic institutions, vase painting, sculpture, architecture, and poetry - reminding us from chapter to chapter of parallel developments in other regions, so by the end he has given a sense of the Greeks' shared history and culture and of the individual features of over 50 city-states. Of manageable length, pleasantly written, and clearly organized, this is an ideal historical introduction to very early Greece. (Kirkus Reviews)