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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A Classical Education' by Caroline Taggart
This book is part of an extensive series from Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. on subjects that are - or used to be - taught at school; mathematics, English Grammar, History, etc., presented in an enjoyable, readable style.
This volume is an introduction for the general reader to the world of Ancient Greece and Rome.
The first first chapter deals with language - the...
Published on 15 Nov. 2009 by Paul Hankinson

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234 of 257 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gives Popular History a Bad Name
As a lecturer in ancient history I have - contrary, perhaps, to the assumptions of other reviewers of this book - no quibble with the popularisation of the subject: on the contrary I wish there were many more accessible and funny books on the subject, for ancient history is packed with opportunities for good gags. However, a popular style is no excuse for poor...
Published on 20 Jan. 2010 by Aspasia


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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A Classical Education' by Caroline Taggart, 15 Nov. 2009
By 
Paul Hankinson (Alsager, UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is part of an extensive series from Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. on subjects that are - or used to be - taught at school; mathematics, English Grammar, History, etc., presented in an enjoyable, readable style.
This volume is an introduction for the general reader to the world of Ancient Greece and Rome.
The first first chapter deals with language - the Greek alphabet, Latin words and phrases used in English (ad nauseam, de facto,modus operandi, etc.) and Greek and Latin plural forms.
The second is about religion and mythology; the principal gods, the underworld, the labours of Hercules, the Fates, Muses and Furies, the Judgement of Paris,etc.
At 26 pages this chapter is essentially a summary, though very useful to anyone whose knowledge of these things is a little vague.
The rest of the book follows this format, with chapters on Greek and Roman History; Classical literature; (mainly Homer,and including short biographies of the foremost dramatists, and writers - Aesop, Euripides, Sappho, Cicero,Virgil, etc. - and chapters on art and architecture (the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pantheon, the Colosseum,etc.); mathematics, science, inventions, medicine and philosophy - the thought of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Sophists, Epicureans, Seneca the Younger and Marcus Aurelius. Finally, the last chapter, of just four pages covers the ancient Olympic Games and Roman arena.
This book is intended for anyone whose acquaintance with the Classical world is limited, and would like to learn more; it commendably fulfils this requirement.
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234 of 257 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Gives Popular History a Bad Name, 20 Jan. 2010
As a lecturer in ancient history I have - contrary, perhaps, to the assumptions of other reviewers of this book - no quibble with the popularisation of the subject: on the contrary I wish there were many more accessible and funny books on the subject, for ancient history is packed with opportunities for good gags. However, a popular style is no excuse for poor scholarship, and Ms Taggart has some real howlers: she claims that Homer lived and composed in the 9th century BC: although precise dating is impossible it is generally agreed that Homer (whoever he was) was a product of the 8th century BC. Any edition of his works, any textbook, any reliable reference book will tell you that. So what? It was a long time ago. But a 100 years is not an inconsiderable period of time. How would you feel about a popular history book that claimed WWII took place between 1839 and 1845? You would think the author was an idiot, and you would be right. What's more Athens did NOT have an empire before the Persian Wars - that came later, and for very good reason - and no, Herodotus does NOT claim there is no evidence for Pheidippides' run to Athens from Marathon: in fact he makes no reference to it at all. Oh, and by the way, modern scholarship now agrees the runner was actually called 'Philippides': up-to-date translations have this version. Has she read one? There's more, but I'm sure you get the drift. Ms Taggart suggests you can show off at dinner parties with the material she provides, but do so with caution - you might find yourself sitting next to one of my first-year undergraduates, all of whom have a better grasp of the subject than the author of this book. And what's more, the jokes, on the whole, are pretty feeble. The word 'shagging' is not, in itself (or per se, if you prefer)witty. It really isn't. Caveat emptor.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plugs the Gaps!, 18 July 2009
By 
USB "Max" (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
If you have an interest in Classics, this is an entertaining book to read. My experiences as school were either neutral or a bit on the wearisome side when it came to Latin/Greek and the related poetry but it was fascinating to read about topics that I had forgotten or barely knew. It also brought back some long lost memories and filled in one or two (well quite a few actually) missing links. Things I didn't know included the origin of the word 'Pygmalion'.

The style of writing is not only informative, but amusing. It is not a heavy text and skims the surface of ancient history, literature and mythology - but that is to the good. If it triggers an interest in the classical world, then so much the better. This is the sort of book that can be dipped into and dipped into again (and again). Many an otherwise idle moment I have spent reading this book and the fascination has not diminished.

Excellent buy, recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greek Mythology made easy, 6 Feb. 2010
A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You'd Been Taught at School

I bought this book as I had forgotten much of what I learned at school and thought this would be a refresher. It is very well written in short chapters which suit me as it holds my attention and it is amusingly written with little current day sayings and phrases scattered about.

I like to read it before going to sleep and the book is small enough to hold and not too thick (these are considerations if you want to 'drop off' after a chapter or so and you don't want to wake the household with the crash of a large tome hitting the floor!). It also has a Roman/Latin section and a section on the meaning and origins of words which you may well be already aware of but I liked that touch.

To my surprise I spent a lunch break discussing some of the characters with a friend who watches films on the subject. In my opinion this was one of my better buys.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy but educational read, 6 Sept. 2009
By 
Tiger (England UK) - See all my reviews
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Having studied some of the classics, out of interest as distinct from academic pressure, I found this book extremely interesting and easy to read, in fact I could hardly put it down. Although I had come across practically everything in this book, the book itself is a wonderful summary, both for the beginner and the well versed. For the price of a couple of pints it is well worth it if only to gain an introduction to th classics. BUY IT and you will not be disappointed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 6 July 2009
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This book is truly unputdownable. Be warned if you enjoy reading about the Ancient Greeks and Romans you'll be reading this at the dinnertable at bedtime and at every opportunity. I love the style.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars historia vitae magistra......, 20 Sept. 2009
Taggart should be a teacher of teachers , as with her style the Classics would surely become fashionable again.

Whether you want a refresher course or wish to have a general knowledge of the Classics, this is a great book written with humour (some LOL stuff) and it covers all the main points.

Better still if you can drag offspring away from the Playstation to read this and learn about history that reflects on today.

An highly enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-out-loud funny... the best way to get information to stick, 1 Dec. 2012
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I bought this, along with most of the others in the series, in order to get back into the swing of 'learning' things. This was no midlife crisis I might add, but simply the effect of having two little relatives who are being home-educated. Lessons for them are not formal affairs, more like friendly little conversations. Hence, if you can corner the market in obscure subjects and sound as though you know what you're talking about, they are an information-hungry captive audience. Perfect conditions for an attention-seeking old windbag like me.

I did both Classical Studies and Latin at school, although that may as well have been during Victoria's reign as far as the two girls are concerned. This book is so well written, that it is merely a case of delivering it word for word in a voice that sounds as though everything-it-says-is-quite-the-most-exciting-thing-EVER! Honestly, you can make anything seem fantastic to a four year old and a seven year old this way.

I had the ideal little opener as far as this subject was concerned given that my rotten father decided, in an act of breathtaking pretentiousness, to saddle me with the name 'Hermes'. Difficult to live with at the best of times, never mind the problems of having to introduce myself to anyone while suffering from a head cold. But - Hermes was rather a pivotal figure in the old Greek Mythology game. Son of Zeus who, I am reliably informed from this book, had delusions of grandeur and liked to throw his weight around a bit (yep - sounds like my father alright). Hermes also had a pair of winged sandals. How cool is that?! I used to have a pair of pink leg warmers but that's small fry compared to that!

The writing style of this book is unbelievably humourous. A very clever sort of humour too, which manages to give these ancient characters energy and life. Well, apart from Zeus. But any man who names his own son 'Hermes' and then chucks him to the wolves of a 1980s Essex comprehensive school must be devoid of any feelings whatsoever. Seriously, you will read a few pages of this book, laugh heartily at the writing style and then get on with your lives. But you'll remember a heck of a lot of information from its pages. And that has to be the mark of a really clever author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infamy, infamy, they've got it in for me (Kenneth Williams), 25 July 2013
By 
Adrian Maxwell "Floreat Aula" (Bedford Falls) - See all my reviews
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Terrific book. One 5 star reviewer says he got his for the price of a pint. I got mine, along with 4 others in the series, for 99p each in one of the High Street remaindered bookshops. A great way to remind oneself of what has been forgotten and to learn new things. Wittily written with tongue firmly planted, a non fiction page turner and we don't get many of them these grim days.

For a real laugh read the 1 star reviews of this book. Talk about missing the point.

This is my Parthian shot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a lighthearted skip through history.., 15 Mar. 2013
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I was not lucky enough to study classical Greek and Roman literature at school,so I bought this book to fill in a few gaps in my education. With its lighthearted style, it is not meant to appeal to Classical scholars or lecturers,but it is a very readable text imparting knowledge across a range of themes, from the Greek Alphabet to a look at famous writers and philosophy.
If you want to interest a young person in a Classical Education, then this is the kind of book which would serve the purpose well. Yes, there are jokes and many of the comments are very tongue in cheek, but isn't that more appealing than just presenting a reader with a tome on a subject which can, and is, often viewed as a dull and boring?
There was just enough detail in this book to encourage me to investigate the subject further.Having a sense of humour has helped raise the appeal of history to many a pupil as the'Horrible Histories' series has shown. The author of 'A Classical Education' is not belittling history, just making it more interesting and relevant to the modern reader.
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A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You'd Been Taught At School
A Classical Education: The Stuff You Wish You'd Been Taught At School by Caroline Taggart (Paperback - 4 April 2013)
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