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on 29 August 2017
What a great book. I genuinely loved reading this. Having little knowledge of classical Greek and Roman thought, it felt like a whole world was opening up. Exciting, interesting and breath of fresh air from the type of philosophy I normally read.
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on 19 March 2017
The approach taken in the VSI series varies considerably from volume to volume; some offer a solid overview of the subject, others try to take a more thematic approach and some are idiosyncratic to say the least. This book falls into the second category and rather than attempt a chronological account or treat each school separately the author looks at how certain key topics were addressed by various strands of thought and in the process covers a number of questions concerning the relevance of ancient philosophy to contemporary concerns. To an extent this works well but I felt that she assumed a little too much of her readers who are not philosophically trained and that in consequence at times the sense was rather obscure and not that enthralling.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 May 2012
This is another in the very excellent series of Very Short Introductions to all sorts of subjects. This one, on Ancient Philosophy, is written by Julia Annas, who also wrote the Very Short Introduction book on Plato.

This is a good general introduction to Ancient Philosophy. To my mind, it spent too much time off topic for such a short book - there was discussion on more general matters, and some topics not related to Ancient Philosophy as such. It attempted to put Ancient Philosophy into a context which incorporated more modern times; not really what, I think, a book of this nature ought to be doing.

A good, but not great Short Introduction to Ancient Philosohy. The books in this series on more specific topics seem to be more focused and of more interest and more use to a general or interested reader for a good introduction on the topic - e.g. Plato, Socrates, PreSocratic Philosophy.
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on 6 October 2016
I have devoted a lot of time to this book, wanting to beef up my background in ancient philosophy. I am still a little puzzled by the way it begins with something which seems to me to be a psychological rather than philosophical problem, Medea's killing of her two sons to spite Jason. I would certainly recommend Annas's book to anyone wanting to read about ancient philosophy. It raises all the key problems, identifies the key schools and thinkers, and explains what happened to Plato and Aristotle in the hands of posterity and why this involved distortions and for Aristotle at least, serious injustice. She also makes it clear that our skew towards those two is somewhat accidental as a result of the survival of texts and that other schools might have loomed much larger in the modern mind had their texts survived. (The uncovering of hitherto unknown Epicurean texts at Heraclaneum doesn't so far seem to support this thesis.) On one important specific issue -- the roots of Christianity and Christian philosophy in Classical philosophy-- it seems to me that she delves less deeply than might be hoped. But I shall be reading and thinking about this book again and perhaps go on to her work on Plato.
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on 10 June 2001
This acts very well, as do all these books, as an introduction to the subject. From the Presocratics onwards, the world of Ancient Greece and its philosophy is explained very well and clearly. Very handy as an introduction if you're using it for school or just out of interest.
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on 25 September 2013
Great to have some short reading to introduce the basic ideas of philosophy. Some more like this would not go amiss.
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on 20 April 2016
Rather than go through a chronological list of Great Thinkers, the author highlights some themes and works from the Greek philosophical tradition and how the modern (post-Renaissance) world has chosen to highlight different aspects of it as time goes by.
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on 16 December 2016
Quick delivery
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