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The Ancient Guide to Modern Life by [Haynes, Natalie]
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The Ancient Guide to Modern Life Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Length: 300 pages Word Wise: Enabled Audible Narration:
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Product Description


The Ancient Guide to Modern Life does two things at once: it reminds us (or tells us) about people, events and practices in the Greek and Roman world, and at the same time explores their contemporary echoes and parallels. A classic double-whammy, in fact - and delivered with wonderful energy, wit, zeal and expertise. Irresistible. (Andrew Motion)

As wise as Socrates, as witty as Aristophanes, as modern as tomorrow - a classic for our times. (Gyles Brandreth)

An entertaining romp through the politics and society of the ancient Romans and Greeks ... so overflowing with lively, pertinent little nuggets it's surprising it doesn't come endorsed by Boris Johnson (Claire Allfree Metro)

A passionate authority on the classics (The List)

Witty ... for a curious-minded someone who likes to get their teeth into some intelligent non-fiction and 'mmmm' appreciatively (Bea Hodgkin Easy Living)

Brilliant (Charlotte Higgins Guardian)

Haynes debunks plenty of myths about the ancient world and delivers her history lessons in a light-hearted tone (Christopher Silvester Daily Express)

A romp through some of the best-known, and some of the most obscure, writers, thoughts and stories of Greece and Rome. Haynes does a good job in debunking myths perpetuated by popular culture ... and also manages to give intelligent overviews of some of the knottier problems that academic scholarship has grappled with ... a passionate defence of Classics (Jerry Toner TLS)


"Delivered with wonderful energy, wit, zeal, expertise. Irresistible!"----Andrew Motion, former UK Poet Laureate

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1237 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (4 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DER7HI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #148,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well, written, witty and engaging overview of various aspects of life in ancient Greece and Rome, showing that human nature, civilisation and our social institutions haven't changed as much as you might think over the millennia. As someone whose school didn't offer any sort of classical education (presumably considering it elitist; I wish our LEA had read this book!) The Ancient Guide to Modern Life provided a fascinating insight into some of the stories we're all vaguely aware of - and they made much more sense afterwards. Why DID the Trojans fall for the old wooden horse ruse? You'll find out when you read this book. A perfect stocking filler for the thinking person.
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Format: Hardcover
The premise of this book is that our lives will be enriched if we look at what has been passed down to us from the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome. She looks at politics, warfare, women, religion, philosophy, art and culture. But instead of producing a terribly worthy (and, perhaps, dull) piece of work she offers us instead a witty and erudite work comparing our present to the past.

As well as being informative it is all good fun - you can hear her voice in every sentence. The best chapters (in which her writing really comes alive) were the ones on women and on "show business". Most of the Greek women are fictional as the Greeks preferred to keep their wives and daughters well away from public life. These come over as a terrifying bunch - wily seductresses and vengeful murderesses. But Medea and Dido had a pretty bad time of it so no wonder they didn't behave well. Other wives are shown to have been patient and faithful (such as Penelope and Andromache) though in the end it doesn't do them much good.....

The flawed hero is still a staple of literature today. Instead of Odysseus, Jason and Oedipus we now have Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Rebus and Wallander - all troubled in their own ways. She says: "It is, perhaps, a sign of our times that self-destruction should have become rather more internalised and rather less about poking out eyes with pins." Until reading this book I hadn't made a connection between Stringer Bell (of The Wire) and Oedipus but, yes, I can see that now....

I have been a fan of Natalie Haynes ever since she recommended (and got me hooked on) Battlestar Galactica. She writes with style and wit.

Very informative - and great fun along the way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Natalie Haynes' entertaining foray through Ancient Cultures is diverting enough. Her objective - to draw wisdom and wit from the comparisons between their lives and ours - is a laudable one.

The main message is that life wasn't that different. Ancient life was in some ways surprisingly good (Athenian democracy, Rome's meticulous laws), in other ways appallingly bad (Spartan infanticide; Hebrews' genocide), but generally predictably ugly (hooliganism, corruption,status obsession, profound racism and sexism; politics and intrigue; futile wars. The relentless tragedies of Greek Culture; the egotistical tempestuousness of the mythical Roman Gods. Socrates' execution for agnosticism).

Overall, it felt like a survey of arbritary similarities and differences, conveyed in a rather airy style - sometimes humorous, sometimes glib - with a few random witticisms. Surprisingly, for a comedian, what it really lacked was a good punchline.
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Format: Paperback
I have enjoyed reading Nathalie Haynes' articles in newspapers whenever they are left on the train but had no idea of her classical background. My own love affair with Latin fizzled out after my first recitation of "amo, amas, amat".

So this book was not, perhaps, one that i would have sought out had it not been recommended by a fellow scientist. What strikes me about this book is the author's combination of knowledge and communications skills, the latter benefitting from her earlier career as a stand-up comedienne.

Haynes' genius is to blend comedy, up-to-date examples and very precise language, and to add very pithy definitions of the terminology and issues that she is discussing. As a result, this book is a pleasure to read and, what is more important at my advanced age, REMEMBER. Her aim, which she achieves completely, is to contrast the obvious differences between antiquity and our world today, and to point out the many similarities.

Very sensibly, Haynes begins with an Introduction which calms the nervous reader. In successive chapters, she deals with:
Politics (entitled Old World Order): The word "barbarian" originated from the strange sounding language of foreigners - "bar-bar-bar", Julius Caesar's final words were really "kai su teknon?", "Even you, my son?", Votes for women.

Laws (How Many Angry Men?): Apophasis, tricolon, asyndeton and litotes - all employed by great orators of the past, Cicero and Perry Mason, the crime for parricide being to be scourged then thrown into the Tiber in a sack with a dog, rooster, snake and a monkey.
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