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Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization [Paperback]

Our Price $ 14.41  
Retail Value $ 16.95  
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Item Number 282354  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   198
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   0.84 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 25, 2002
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1893554570  
EAN  9781893554573  

Availability  21 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 05:09.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
In the classics departments of today's universities, Bruce Thornton says, the Greeks are accused of stealing their achievements from black Egyptians, of oppressing their wives and daughters, and of hypocritically speculating about freedom while holding slaves. Most of all, classic Greek culture has come under attack precisely because its glorious achievement, extended into history, is what defines the West and makes it distinct. In Greek Ways, Thornton clears away these misconceptions. Writing with wit and erudition, he discusses in fascinating detail those areas of Greek life-sexuality and sexual roles; slavery and war; philosophy and politics-that some modern critics have made into "contested sites." Perhaps more importantly, he also reclaims the importance of those core ideas the Greeks invented, ideas about human fate and purpose that have shaped the modern world. Nearly seventy years ago, Edith Hamilton published The Greek Way, a book that educated two generations of readers about the debt we owe the handful of city-states that developed "the spirit of the West" some 2500 years ago. Bruce Thornton's Greek Ways is for our time what Hamilton's book was for a prior era: a classic inquiry holding up a mirror to Greek culture in which we can see ourselves.

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More About Bruce S. Thornton

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bruce Thornton is professor classics and humanities at California State University, Fresno. His previous books are Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality and Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge.

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Product Categories
1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > History > Europe   [2054  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Early Civilization   [417  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Greece   [510  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece > General   [3105  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [101287  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General   [10703  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great Overview of the Achievements of the Athenians  May 13, 2008
Bruce Thornton has written a wonderful book cataloging the many intellectual achievements of classical Greece in the realms of reason, science, ethics, political freedoms, law, historical documentation and art. The author also does an excellent job refuting two common charges against this monumental civilization: 1.) that the Greeks were whim-worshipping hedonists who would never pass up an opportunity to indulge in short-term sexual pleasure and 2.) that the distinguishing characteristic of Greek civilization is that they were all slave-owning misogynists.

The chapters refuting these claims are worth the price of the book alone. To address these claims, the author encourages the reader to reflect upon the content of classical Greek law and classical Greek art. The author argues that there were in fact many laws prohibiting sexual relations with minors and there were popularized Greek myths where the moral was the dangers of hedonism (e.g., the immolation of Heracles.) Moreover, the author identifies how women were often portrayed as cunning, witty and capable of using their minds to achieve noble political ends in both Greek myths and Greek theater (e.g., Aristophanes' Lysistrata.)

Needless to say, the author does not attempt to claim that the Greeks were flawless and nor should he. However, the author does exhibit that he understands that the Greeks have made numerous monumental intellectual contributions to Western Civilization. Moreover, the author seems to understand that while certainly flawed by many of today's standards with respect to the rights of women and slave ownership, the Greeks should be judged in the context of their time and in that frame of reference were overwhelmingly good.

For these reasons, I whole-heartedly recommend this well-written and delightful book!
Good case for the impact of Greece on Western culture  Oct 31, 2004
The controversy about whether Greek civilisation was the main source of western civilisation's ideas about freedom, rationality etc... doesn't rage as much here as in the US, where a number of writers have, unconvincingly in my view, sought to argue that the Greeks borrowed much of their ideas on rationality, logic, freedom etc.. from other civilisations and in particular from Egypt.

So when I wanted read more about Greek influence on Western civilisation I dreaded a book which was merely a defense against these and other politically correct theories. Instead, although the author makes reference to this controversy, the book stands on its own in describing Greek civilisation and its enormous influence on today's world. The author does not pretend that the Greeks formed a cultural monolith, where everybody was convinced of the power of reason. But his very wide range of sources is persuasive enough that many of the ideas that were necessary building blocks for the rise of Western civilisation, such as that there should be a rational explanation for natural phenomena, originated with Greek thinkers. The fact that some of these paid for their ideas with their life (like Socrates) does not diminish the fact that the Greeks were there first.

What did I miss in this book ? I would have liked more about the transmission of Greek ideas to the West, i.e. how we lost much of this philosophical heritage only to regain it at the time of the renaissance. Secondly, although the author on a number of occasions asserts that other contemporary civilisations had not reached such and such a level, I would have liked to see more detail on this. I also thought that it was odd to devote the first 2 chapters (almost a sixth of the book) on sexual relations in ancient Greece, an area where I think Greeks did not influence the West much. I also think that the long section on the Greek's treatment of slaves has to be seen more in the US context (anything to do with slavery is highly sensitive and pays to be seen to have been good with slaves) than as an influence on Western culture.

Although J Roberts' Triumph of the West sets out a more eloquent case for the rational influence of ancient Greece, this book makes argues for a much wider influence, i.e. not just Rational Man, but also Political Man, freedom of expression, etc... For this it deserves to be read. It is far from perfect, but it is also fairly concise
Good writing and great subject  Oct 16, 2002
The author is a relly good writer. I read this book a couple of years ago and it really awoke my interest in the classics. This book should be required reading for college students.
A great book about a great civilization.  Oct 7, 2002
I was truly enlightened while reading this book. Not only did it give me new information, but it also got me interested in reading other books about the Greeks.
Wonderful!  Oct 2, 2002
How could one not love the civilization that has contributed the foundations of the West and so much to the world we live in? Bruce Thornton analyses the achievements of the glorious Greeks, from their earliest history to their attitudes toward homoerotic love. This book is a must for all classics, history, anthropology, art history, philosophy, and political science students......or for anyone who wants to be enlightened. There is something Greek in all of us!

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