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This stimulating Very Short Introduction to Ancient Greece takes the city as its starting point. Paul Cartledge uses the history of eleven major Greek cities to illuminate the most important and informative themes in Ancient Greek history, from the first documented use of the Greek language around 1400 BCE, through the glories of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, to the foundation of the Byzantine empire in around CE 330.
Download this VSI Reading Guide as an Adobe PDF (28 KB)
Questions for Thought and Discussion
- Why should we care about what we owe to the ancient Greeks?
- Was there such a thing as 'ancient Greece'?
- Who was Minos, and is it helpful to call an entire civilisation after one supposed man?
- Was there a Trojan War, and were there real historical equivalents of Homer's Agamemnon, Achilles and so forth?
- Why did Homer call the Greeks at Troy 'Argives'?
- Why did the Greeks call their alphabet 'Phoenician letters'?
- We derive our 'politics', 'political' 'politicians' etc from the ancient Greek word polis - but is there anything very much in common between our politics and that of the ancient Greeks?
- Was Thales of Miletus the Western world's first true intellectual?
- Was ancient Sparta totalitarian?
- Did the ancient Athenians invent democracy?
- Why did the handful of Greek cities succeed in repelling the Persian invasion of 480-479 BC?
- Does Athens today still stand in the shadow of the Parthenon?
- How significant is the Atheno-Peloponesian War of 431 to 404 BC?
- What are the claims to greatness of Epaminondas of Thebes?
- Was it a coincidence that a man from Greek Massalia (Marseille today) put Britain on the map?
- How significant for the history of Western learning was the foundation of the Library at Greek Alexandria in Egypt?
- Did 'captured Greece take its fierce (Roman) conqueror captive', as Horace claimed?
- What difference to the idea of Greekness did the triumph of Christianity make?
- How like the ancient Games are the modern Olympics?
- What would be the modern equivalent(s) of the prophetic Pythia priestess at ancient Delphi?
Other books by Paul Cartledge
- P. Cartledge, The Greeks: A Portrait of the Self and Others, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)
- P. Cartledge, Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities,(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
- P. Cartledge ed.,The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
- Charles Freemen,The Greek Achievement. The Foundation of the Western World, (London, Penguin, 2010)
- Christian Meier, A Culture of Freedom: Ancient Greece and the Origins of Europe, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
- Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook.asp