Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Paul Cartledge

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0199601348

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This highly original introduction to ancient Greece uses the history of eleven major Greek cities to illuminate the most important and informative aspects of Greek culture. Cartledge highlights the role of such renowned cities as Athens (birthplace of democracy) and Sparta, but he also examines Argos, Thebes, Syracuse in Sicily, and Alexandria in Egypt, as well as lesser known locales such as Miletus (home of the West's first intellectual, Thales) and Massalia (Marseilles today), where the Greeks introduced the wine grape to the French. The author uses these cities to illuminate major themes, from economics, religion, and social relations, to gender and sexuality, slavery and freedom, and politics.

















Sicily, and especially in taking Syracuse down if not out. This was partly for reasonably sound strategic reasons: increased availability of Sicilian resources might well be decisive in any renewed conflict with Sparta. But alongside these, there were flying around crazy notions of extending imperial domination to all Sicily, and possibly even from there to Carthage…Small wonder that Aristophanes satirized this castle-building in the air in his comedy Birds of 414. Thucydides took almost the

what moderns call the ‘League of Corinth’ as the vehicle to express and legitimate his de facto suzerainty over mainland Greece. The first decision taken by the League delegates in congress at Corinth was to appoint Philip commander-in-chief of a campaign against the Persian empire. The campaign was dressed up as a long-delayed act of revenge on the Persians for their sacrilegious destruction of sacred sites and property in 480–479, and as a project of liberation (echoing propaganda used by

time were inferior before. Ancient Greek Byzantion had been founded about a millennium earlier and had risen to significance, if not greatness, owing to its energetic exploitation both of the local Bithynians’ labour power and of its site’s unparalleled opportunities for taxing trade passing through the Bosporus. But the new Byzantion differed crucially from its predecessor not only in being an imperial capital but in being the capital of a Christian—Orthodox and Catholic (‘universal’)—empire.

took, rightly or wrongly, to be the common good, the public interest of the city and its citizens. True, women were allowed no part of this communal political enterprise of decision-making; true, there were an awful lot of slaves or subjugated serf-like workers in or rather outside most of the cities, providing the citizens on the inside with the indispensable leisure (skholê, whence our ‘school’) to do politics as they saw fit; true, it was only in a pretty radical democracy such as Athens that

further economy of inference—from the language and script of the Linear B tablets—to suppose that the invading conquerors were Greek-speakers from the Greek mainland, especially the Peloponnese. It is true that there has been huge debate over the dating of the Cnossos Linear B tablets. Although Evans did pay some considerable attention to the then newfangled notion of stratigraphy, his encouragement of his workers’ speed of work by means of bribery did not lend itself to the most scrupulous

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