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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introduction to Classical Greece
This book is introductory because it does not require the reader to have any previous knowledge of ancient Greece. Initially it discusses the different approaches to the study of such an alien world (how much can we really relate to the people of that time?), which brings up many interesting questions I had not previously considered.
The book then proceeds to discuss...
Published on 30 Sep 2002 by Stephen Boyd

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3.0 out of 5 stars How different from them
Given the authors basic contention (supported by evidence it must be said) that the ancient Greek world-view was built around polar opposites (man/woman, slave/free citizen) etc, it's tempting to say that the book will provoke two kinds of reactions - positive and negative!
Yet that would not really be fair to the book, and indeed the book itself, whilst maintaining...
Published 5 months ago by John Fletcher


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Introduction to Classical Greece, 30 Sep 2002
This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
This book is introductory because it does not require the reader to have any previous knowledge of ancient Greece. Initially it discusses the different approaches to the study of such an alien world (how much can we really relate to the people of that time?), which brings up many interesting questions I had not previously considered.
The book then proceeds to discuss the polarities in greek culture (these polarities are explained clearly in the introduction), Greek vs. Barbarian, Citizen vs. Alien, Man vs. Woman, Free vs. Slave, Gods vs. Mortals. These are discussed, primarily in relation to the historians (the first historians - there is some discussion of history and historigraphy) Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Aristotle and with reference to other important people of the time.
The book is written in a very readable style, with the occasional complex sentence being the only exception. It is well-structured, with information being provided in logical progression. I enjoyed this book because, unlike most academic books, it captured my attention and imagination - making it more like a novel (albeit a very educational one). Finally, the extensive "Further Reading" section and Bibliography provides excellent direction for further study of the sections of interest.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, lucid, explanitory and well written., 21 Sep 2003
By A Customer
Paul Cartledge is an expert on antiquity and nowhere is his expertise reflected more clearly than in this brilliant, concise portrayal of the Greek mental world. Cartledge's approach is extremely instructive, dividing the Greek mental set into various compartments, analysing their ideas on foreigners, slavery, religion, women, citizenship and other areas of the Greek world which interacted to compose their entire cosmology. Through the use of apposite examples he carefully deconstructs the organisation of their mental world, laying it bare and brutal and utterly fascinating. His written style is lucid and fluid and minimalist. For anybody searching for an easy to read and understand portrayal of the inner machinations of the ancient Greek world, this is a must.
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3.0 out of 5 stars How different from them, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
Given the authors basic contention (supported by evidence it must be said) that the ancient Greek world-view was built around polar opposites (man/woman, slave/free citizen) etc, it's tempting to say that the book will provoke two kinds of reactions - positive and negative!
Yet that would not really be fair to the book, and indeed the book itself, whilst maintaining this simple scheme of polar opposites throughout, is obliged to admit that it did not actually apply all the time in practice. There were different classifications of men and women, foreigners could become citizens, slaves could have all sorts of different positions. In effect, therefore, what Mr Cartledge is describing is something like the official ideology of Greece (or Athens, he never seems sure), rather than the practice. And indeed neither, on the evidence presented, actually seems very special: most societies have divided themselves into "us" and "everybody else" (the Chinese, for example), most societies had slaves (one thinks of the Arab world, obviously), and virtually every society in the world had special treatment for men and women (even ours, though recently things have become somewhat reversed).
This illustrates a larger problem with the book. It is certainly a valuable idea to demonstrate that the Greeks, for all their fundamental impact on our culture, and their invention of various key western concepts, were not "like us". The book does this very well, and makes it clear that the Greeks were a civilization different from us in almost every respect - not surprising, in fact, for a culture two and a half thousand years distant.
But there's a bit of straw-man bashing going on here. No-one has ever really supposed the Greeks (even the Athenians) were exactly like us. And moreover the book never defines who "we" are for this purpose. It's worth emphasizing that many of the Greek ideas about social organisation and gender roles described in the book (in the tones of a lecturer telling off a bad student it must be said) are very widely found in the world today, and indeed still have traces in our own society. The "us" from whom the Greeks are "different" turns out on examination to be educated, liberal western people of above average intelligence of the early 21st century, much like Mr Cartledge and his students in fact. This leads to the comfortable thought that perhaps it is we who are different, not them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, 3 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
Needed it for my course, and was really helpful right the way through. Decent quality, but it's a shame that the price was so high.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably hard to read but -------, 15 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
Worth it because It explains in the only way I have found so far ,the underlying beliefs and principles of Greek life.You need a copy of Herodotus the Histories as well which I already had ,as it cross-references a lot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
I have bought this for my MA studies and have completed a quick read of it. I found it interesting although it is not a smooth read. I am sure that it will greatly aid my studies.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what it was intended to be, 28 Mar 2008
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
I purchased this book because I wanted to get away from the usual (boring) style of historical writing that focuses almost entirely on political and military fact.

It seemed promising at first; the author states in the early sections that he himself grew tired of this format and wanted to look more into the spirit of the Greeks and how they defined themselves in terms of a series of cultural polarities. He therefore explores areas such as citizen vs. alien, men vs. women etc.

For the most part, this structure certainly is different from standard historical books on the subject. However, within each chapter it does descend into exactly this kind of writing. What remains is in fact a rather bland telling of largely military and political fact shoe-horned into a more novel structure and order. At the end of the day it's still fairly boring.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
Very good
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not what it sets out to be, 17 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) (Paperback)
for a continentally-leaning philosopher and an academic researcher wrting for academics the author deserves praise for writing well and clearly and intelligebly.

he also deserves praise for "debunking" the greeks or at least not lauding them blindly

on the other hand, this also makes the book fairly weak: constructing the Greeks as merely some random ancient culture clearly misses the fact that greek culture influenced not just the eastern mediteranian, but also Persia, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, and eventually Rome, stretching all the way to Britain.

when the ottomans were at the gates of byzans in 1456 AD they were laying siege to the last remnants of a purely greek culture

clearly - the greeks must have had something unique to their cultural apparatus, and indeed they did

furthermore, I have NEVER seen any studies of "identity" in history, theatre, poetry etc. that end up going beyond the obvious. while the promise of such studies is indeed alluring (and the reason why i spent money on this book) perhaps it is simply not a premise that lends itself well to academic analysis
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The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus)
The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus) by Paul Cartledge (Paperback - 10 Oct 2002)
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