Top positive review
Well worth reading
on 14 June 2017
This is an interesting and quite a clever little book. I initially wanted (and expected) a potted overview of the Classics texts: Homer, Plato, Virgil etc, how they fitted together, what their development was etc.
What I actually got was a book about relationships: our relationship to the Classical Period, the relationship of the 19th Century to the same period and our relationship to the 19th Century etc. Through this, it shows the Classical Period has formed the backbone to Western civilisation and to understand our history, art and way of thinking requires a grounding in the Classical Period.
The central device is the temple at Bassae, the remains of which you can see at the British Museum today. Through this questions about Empire, cultural appropriation, art and the ancient world are explored. Several times the authors surprise the reader and use this effect to show that the Classical Period challenges our pre-conceptions, can be used as a mirror to reflect on our own pre-occupations and that the interaction between us and the Classics is a vital part of what makes Classics.
In keeping with this, our modern obsession with gender and sexuality are given their full allotment. I wonder if future generations will one day find this as quaint as we find the Victorians.
In summary, I'm more motivated to explore the Classics having read this book than if the authors had given me my expectation, which ironically, is their point about Classics.
Well worth reading.