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The Greeks and the Irrational (Sather Classical Lectures) Paperback – 22 Jun 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (22 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520242300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520242302
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An exciting and fundamental subject; profound learning illuminated by imaginative insight and controlled by a modest and balanced judgment; a literary style of exceptional clarity, vigour, and elegance; the combination of these ingrediants produces a book which it would be difficult to over-praise."--"Oxford Magazine"


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, based on a series of lectures, first appeared in the early 1950s, but it remains a standard reference for anyone looking to discover more about the "irrational" beliefs of the ancient world. Curiously, its subject becomes ever more relevant, as New Age beliefs gain ground in the supposedly rational West -- our modern society seems to be turning the clock back to a time when magic and superstition still ruled people's hearts and minds. But that's one of Dodds' central contentions: that such beliefs never actually disappeared, despite the intellectual enlightenment of Plato, Aristotle and the other great thinkers of the ancient world. The same is true today it seems.
One caveat for the general reader: there is a profusion of learned notes and untranslated Greek terms which can be off-putting. But the text itself is clear and not over-stuffed with jargon, as is too often the case with more modern academic writing.
I would also recommend Georg Luck's "Arcana Mundi" (Amazon ASIN: 0801825482), which collects many relevant texts on these subjects in new English translations.
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By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Eric Dodds was sometime professor of Greek at Oxford. This book created a certain amount of a stir in its time both within and outside the arena of classical studies by either addressing, or being believed to address, up-to-date-issues of anthropology and psychology. It consists basically of the Sather Classical Lectures that Dodds was invited to deliver at the University of California in 1950, and as it has been reissued in paperback in 1997 it's fair to assume that the publishers intend it to reach a wider readership than the dwindling band of classical initiates.
I very much hope it does that, but a word or two would probably be in place regarding what to expect and what not to expect to find in the book. The author's preface warns us not to look in the book for a history of Greek religion, and more pertinently recognises that modern scholarship is a worlds of specialists, and Dodds reiterates right at the end that he is 'a simple professor of Greek'. Amateurs, dilettantes and bluffers will find plenty of material to suit them I don't doubt, but Dodds is not one of their number. This work is best read as a standard piece of classical scholarship, not as breaking down any moulds or enclosures. The most casual glance at the daunting catalogue of references in the notes appended to each chapter will show what a vast amount of writing on the topics covered here was in situ before Dodds, and how could it be otherwise? Any commentary on, say, Plato or Empedocles or Greek history by and large had to do its best with issues of religion and trends in thought. There are numerous references to other cultures, and Dodds is certainly better versed in such matters than other classics dons that I knew. By my standards he shows wide reading and deep interest in anthropology and human behaviour.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that can't fail to grip. Specialist or non-specialist, or just interested in our culture, Dodds' course of lectures will haunt you. We do our cultural ancestors, the Ancient Greeks, a disservice by thinking of them as the last word in rational thought at all times. They too had their psychic side, upon which their philosophy and art developed. For them, madness or possession (mania)could be positive as well as negative - a god-sent gift to the favoured. There is a thoughtful, attention-gripping, examination of the treatise of Hippokrates on the Sacred Disease (epilepsy). Here too, possibly the first description of an 'out-of-body experience' - to be found in Pindar, c.460 BCE.
When you've read this book, you can't forget it - for the Irrational of the Greeks is with us still, not so very far below the surface.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly the most fascinating and interesting book on Classical Literature I've read so far, if you're planning to take on Classical literature at university, this is perfect reference in a application letter!
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