General & Introductory Works

Above: A view of the Temple of Hera at Selinunte, Sicily. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Antonio Sessa. License: Unsplash license.

Intimate Lives of the Ancient Greeks

Stephanie L. Budin, 2013

This informative and enjoyable book surveys many aspects of the personal and emotional lives and belief systems of the ancient Greeks, focusing on such issues as familial life, religious piety, and ethnic identity. This work explores various aspects of ancient Greek personal and emotional lives, beginning with their understandings of their own bodies, individual and personal relationships, and ending with their feelings about religion and the afterlife. It covers ancient Greek culture from the early Archaic period in the 8th century BCE through the Late Classical period in the 4th century BCE. Readers will be fascinated to learn what the Greeks thought about the gods, physical deformity, citizenship, nymphs, goats, hospitality, and sexual relations that would be considered incest by modern standards. The content of the book provides an intimate sense of what the ancient Greeks were actually like, connecting ancient experiences to present-day culture. The chapters span a wide range of topics, including the human body, family and societal relationships, city life, the world as they knew it, and religious belief. The author draws extensively on primary sources, presenting evidence from literature, art, and architecture.

From the epic poems of Homer to the glittering art and architecture of Greece's Golden Age, to the influential Roman systems of law and leadership, the classical Greek world established the foundations of our culture as well as many of its most enduring achievements. Now, in this vivid volume, readers can embrace the spirit of the classical world, from the eighth to the first centuries BCE, a period unparalleled in history for its brilliance in literature, philosophy, and the visual arts. This work also treats the Hellenization of the Middle East by the monarchies established in the area conquered by Alexander the Great. The editors, all celebrated classicists, intersperse chapters on political and social history with sections on literature, philosophy, and the arts, and reinforce the historical framework with maps and historical charts. Moreover, the contributors--thirty of the world's leading scholars--present the latest in modern scholarship through masterpieces of wit, brevity, and style. Together with hundreds of excellent illustrations, these entries provide both a provocative and entertaining window into our classical heritage.

In 1872, Jacob Burckhardt, one of the preeminent historians of classical and Renaissance art, architecture, and culture, presented this revolutionary work. Burckhardt dramatically renounced these lectures during his own lifetime, fearing a hostile reception by a world body of scholars and critics who remained wedded to a romanticized view of the ancient Greek world. It is only now, for the first time, that the core of these lectures is available in book form to the English-language reader. Rejecting the notion that a perfect democracy had in fact existed, Burckhardt portrayed ancient Greek culture as an aristocratic world based on ruthless competition for honor, which led, in turn, to a tyrannous state with minimal freedoms. Burckhardt's landmark project, the culmination of thirty years of scholarlship by leading Oxford historian, Oswyn Murray, offers a rich cultural history of a fascinating society.

Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

Paul Cartledge, 2009

This highly original introduction to ancient Greece uses the history of eleven major Greek cities to illuminate the most important and informative aspects of Greek culture. Cartledge highlights the role of such renowned cities as Athens (birthplace of democracy) and Sparta, but he also examines Argos, Thebes, Syracuse in Sicily, and Alexandria in Egypt, as well as lesser known locales such as Miletus (home of the West's first intellectual, Thales) and Massalia (Marseilles today), where the Greeks introduced the wine grape to the French. The author uses these cities to illuminate major themes, from economics, religion, and social relations, to gender and sexuality, slavery and freedom, and politics.

The Greeks and Us

Marcel Detienne, 2007

The human race is all too pre-disposed to think in terms of 'us' and 'them'. Europeans have always laid claim to the Ancient Greeks - they are 'our' Greeks, 'our' ancestors - but their legacy reaches further than we could ever imagine. Their influence stretches from the Japanese to the Cossacks, from Ancient Rome to Indonesia. In this path-breaking new volume, the great French historian Marcel Detienne focuses on Eurocentric approaches which have trumpeted the Greeks and their democratic practices as 'our' ancestors and the superiority of the Western tradition to which they gave rise. He argues that such approaches can be seen as narrow-minded and often covertly nationalistic. Detienne advocates what he calls 'comparative anthropology' which sets out to illuminate the comparisons and contrasts between the beliefs, practices and institutions of different ancient and modern societies. Detienne aims to put the Greeks in perspective among other civilisations and also to look afresh at questions of political structure, literacy, nationhood, intellect and mythology.

The ruins of Corinth. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Vassilis Terzo. License: Unsplash license.

Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean

Charles Freeman, 3rd ed. 2014

This work is regarded as one of the best general histories of the ancient world. It is written for the general reader and the student coming to the subject for the first time and provides a reliable and highly accessible point of entry to the period. Beginning with the early Middle Eastern civilizations of Sumer, and continuing right through to the Islamic invasions and the birth of modern Europe after the collapse of the Roman empire, the book ranges beyond political history to cover art and architecture, philosophy, literature, society, and economy.

Introducing the Ancient Greeks

Edith Hall, 2015

The ancient Greeks invented democracy, theater, rational science, and philosophy. They built the Parthenon and the Library of Alexandria. Yet this accomplished people never formed a single unified social or political identity. In Introducing the Ancient Greeks, acclaimed classics scholar Edith Hall offers a bold synthesis of the full 2,000 years of Hellenic history to show how the ancient Greeks were the right people, at the right time, to take up the baton of human progress. Hall portrays a uniquely rebellious, inquisitive, individualistic people whose ideas and creations continue to enthrall thinkers centuries after the Greek world was conquered by Rome. These are the Greeks as you’ve never seen them before.

Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture

Werner Jaeger, 3 vols. 1986

Paideia, the shaping of Greek character through a union of civilization, tradition, literature, and philosophy is the basis for Jaeger's evaluation of Hellenic culture. The first volume describes the foundation, growth, and crisis of Greek culture during the archaic and classical epochs, ending with the collapse of the Athenian empire. The second and third volumes of the work deal with the intellectual history of ancient Greece in the Age of Plato, the 4th century BC--the age in which Greece lost everything that is valued in this world--state, power, liberty--but still clung to the concept of paideia. As its last great poet, Menander summarized the primary role of this ideal in Greek culture when he said: "The possession which no one can take away from man is paideia."

Ancient Greece: State and Society

Nicholas F. Jones, 1996

This work greatly enlarges the scope of subjects traditionally regarded as appropriate to historical inquiry. While many textbooks on ancient Greek history have been written from a narrowly political or military perspective, Nicholas F. Jones presents a far more comprehensive picture by including a wide range of social, cultural, and economic topics. The centerpiece of the book is Athens, the only ancient Greek city sufficiently documented to permit an in depth characterization of this kind.

“The best introduction I have ever read to Ancient Greece. The author’s liveliness of mind and style has enabled him to make a mass of information appetizing and digestible” --Ray Mortimer, Sunday Times. The Greeks were extraordinary not least because they evolved “a totally new conception of what human life was for.” Justifying and elaborating on that claim, H.D.F. Kitto explores the life, culture and history of classical Greece, bringing to his subject the passion, wit and insight that have made this brief introduction a world-famous classic.

The coast of Crete. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Stepan Unar. License: Unsplash license.

Ancient Greece: A New History

Jeremy McInerney, 2018

This book is a new, single-authored survey of the ancient Greek world that brings the past to life with a fresh narrative and vivid images. Drawing on the latest archaeological research and textual evidence, award-winning teacher and scholar Jeremy McInerney shows that many of the issues that concerned the ancient Greeks--justice and inequality, nationalism and xenophobia, medicine and science--are relevant today. Key features include more than 200 color images; chapter-opening timelines, detailed maps and plans; chapter-ending illustrated "Spotlight" features; and instructor and student resources.

Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times

Thomas R. Martin, 2nd ed. 2013

In this compact yet comprehensive history of ancient Greece, Martin brings alive Greek civilization from its Stone Age roots to the 4th century BC. Focusing on the development of the Greek city-state and the society, culture, and architecture of Athens in its Golden Age, Martin integrates political, military, social, and cultural history in a book that will appeal to students and general readers alike. Now in its second edition, this classic work now features new maps and illustrations, a new introduction, and updates throughout.

A Culture of Freedom: Ancient Greece and the Origins of Europe

Christian Meier, 2011

Christian Meier is one of Europe's preeminent authorities on the classical world. This book marks the apex of his lifelong research on ancient Greek culture. Beginning with a section on medieval and modern Europe's enormous inheritance of Greek institutions and ideas, the book moves on to chronicle the rise of Greek civilization from the Bronze Age to the Greco-Persian wars. Throughout, the author provides fresh insight into the "Greek miracle," as he illuminates the well-known features of Greek culture. What made these achievements possible and so enduring? Meier argues that across the whole range of human experience, there was one common denominator among the ancient Greeks: an attempt to find compromise, balance, and understanding in the face of problems others usually solved by means of power.

The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

Josiah Ober, 2016

In the classical era, Greece was densely populated and highly urbanized. Many surprisingly healthy Greeks lived in remarkably big houses and worked for high wages at specialized occupations. Middle-class spending drove sustained economic growth and classical wealth produced a stunning cultural efflorescence lasting hundreds of years. Why did Greece reach such heights in the classical period -- and why only then? And how, after "the Greek miracle" had endured for centuries, did the Macedonians defeat the Greeks, seemingly bringing an end to their glory? Drawing on a massive body of newly available data and employing novel approaches to evidence, Josiah Ober offers a major new history of classical Greece and an unprecedented account of its rise and fall.

Classical Greece, 500-323 BC

ed. Robin Osborne, 2000

This work provides an analysis of the physical setting of and the archaic legacy to the classical city, its economy, its civic and religious institutions, the waging of war between cities, the occurrence and ancient analysis of conflict within the city, and the private life of the citizen, finishing with history through the fifth and fourth centuries. Robin Osborne presents us with a concise, comprehensive, and authoritative book that will be enjoyed by classics and history students; students taking courses in classical Greek literature, philosophy, art, and archaeology; academics; and general readers alike.

The Greek World

ed. Anton Powell, 1995

Spanning the Mycenean to the late Hellenistic period, this work includes new articles by twenty-seven specialists of ancient Greece, and presents an examination of the Greek cultures of mainland Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt and Italy. With the chapters sharing the theme of social history, this fascinating book focuses on women, the poor, and slaves -- all traditionally seen as beyond the margins of power -- and includes the study of figures who were on the literal margins of the Greek world. Bringing to the forefront the research into areas previously thought of as marginal, this collection sheds new light on vital topics and authors who are central to the study of Greek culture.

A view of the valley of Foinikas. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Wilhelm Boettger. License: Unsplash license.

A Short History of the Ancient World

Nicholas K. Rauh & Heidi E. Kraus, 2017

This book begins with the Bronze Age and ends with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Rather than restricting his analysis to the Greek and Roman experience, Rauh introduces students to ancient Africa, Israel, Egypt, Iran, China, and the Indian subcontinent. To aid students on their journey into the ancient world, Rauh has provided key terms and definitions, "What Have We Learned" review points, and an engaging art program that includes 51 images within the "Art in Focus" and "Materials and Techniques" features. Informative maps, chronologies, and tables also give students a closer look into the rise and fall of these great civilizations.

Ancient Greek Civilization

David Sansone, 3rd ed. 2017

The third edition of Ancient Greek Civilization is a concise, engaging introduction to the history and culture of ancient Greece from the Minoan civilization to the age of the Roman Empire. The work explores the evolution and development of Greek art, literature, politics, and thought across history, as well as the ways in which these were affected by Greek interaction with other cultures. Sansone's book now includes additional illustrations and maps, updated notes and references throughout, and an expanded discussion of the Hellenistic period. The work also weaves the latest scholarship and archeological excavations into the narrative at an appropriate level for undergraduates.

Twenty-five-hundred years ago, civilizations around the world entered a revolutionary new era that overturned old order and laid the foundation for our world today. In the face of massive social changes across three continents, radical new forms of government emerged; mighty wars were fought over trade, religion, and ideology; and new faiths were ruthlessly employed to unify vast empires. The histories of Rome and China, Greece and India--the stories of Constantine and Confucius, Qin Shi Huangdi and Hannibal--are here revealed to be interconnected incidents in the midst of a greater drama. In this work, historian Michael Scott presents a gripping narrative of this unique age in human civilization, showing how diverse societies responded to similar pressures and how they influenced one another: through conquest and conversion, through trade in people, goods, and ideas. An ambitious reinvention of our grandest histories, this book reveals new truths about our common human heritage.

The Story of Greece and Rome

Tony Spawforth, 2020

This book presents the extraordinary story of the intermingled civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, spanning more than six millennia from the late Bronze Age to the seventh century. The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the "civilized" Greek and Roman empires--resisting the barbarians at the gate--are far from accurate. Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East.

The Greeks

ed. Jean-Pierre Vernant, 1995

What do we mean when we speak of ancient Greeks? A person from the Archaic period? The war hero celebrated by Homer? Or the fourth century "political animal" described by Aristotle? In this book, leading scholars show what it meant to be Greek during the classical period of Greek civilization. This book offers the most complete portraits available of typical Greek personages from Athens to Sparta, Arcadia, Thessaly and Epirus to the city-states of Asia Minor, to the colonies of the Black Sea, southern Italy, and Sicily. Looking at the citizen, the religious believer, the soldier, the servant, the peasant, and others, they show what—in the Greek relationships with the divine, with nature, with others, and with the self—made him "different" in his ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. The contributors to this volume are Jean-Pierre Vernant, Claude Mosse, Yvon Garlan, Giuseppe Cambiano, Luciano Canfora, James Redfield, Charles Segal, Oswyn Murray, Mario Vegetti, and Philippe Borgeaud.

A sea-cave at Koufonisia. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Rania Samara. License: Unsplash license.

Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World

Blackwell History of the Ancient World

Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World

Sunset on the Peloponnesian coast. Source: Unsplash. Creator: Joe deSousa. License: Unsplash license.

Cambridge Histories

The Cambridge Ancient History

Various editors, 14 vols., 1970-2005

Over the past half century The Cambridge Ancient History has established itself as a definitive work of reference. The original edition was published in twelve text volumes between 1924 and 1939. Publication of the new edition began in 1970. Every volume of the old edition has been totally re-thought and re-written with new text, maps, illustrations and bibliographies. Some volumes have had to be expanded into two or more parts and the series has been extended by two extra volumes (XIII and XIV) to cover events up to AD 600, bringing the total number of volumes in the set to fourteen. Existing plates to the volumes are available separately.

"The revised Cambridge Ancient History is a brilliant achievement for undergraduate, scholar and informed layman alike; up-to-date, authoritative, readable but never complacent. In an age of specialisation -- when the magisterial survey is often regarded (not least by scholars) with some sort of suspicion -- it can be counted on as a major triumph." --Peter Jones, Sunday Telegraph

The Cambridge Prehistory of the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean

ed. A. Bernard Knapp & Peter van Dommelen, 2015

This volume offers new insights into the material and social practices of many different Mediterranean peoples during the Bronze and Iron Ages, presenting in particular those features that both connect and distinguish them. Contributors discuss in depth a range of topics that motivate and structure Mediterranean archaeology today, including insularity and connectivity; mobility, migration, and colonization; hybridization and cultural encounters; materiality, memory, and identity; community and household; life and death; and ritual and ideology. The volume's broad coverage of different approaches and contemporary archaeological practices will help practitioners of Mediterranean archaeology to move the subject forward in new and dynamic ways. Together, the essays in this volume shed new light on the people, ideas, and materials that make up the world of Mediterranean archaeology today, beyond the borders that separate Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Cambridge World History

Various editors, 7 vols., 2015

This work is an authoritative new overview of the dynamic field of world history. It covers the whole of human history, not simply history since the development of written records, in an expanded time frame that represents the latest thinking in world and global history. With over two hundred essays, it is the most comprehensive account yet of the human past, and it draws on a broad international pool of leading academics from a wide range of scholarly disciplines. Reflecting the increasing awareness that world history can be examined through many different approaches and at varying geographic and chronological scales, each volume offers regional, topical, and comparative essays alongside case studies that provide depth of coverage to go with the breadth of vision that is the distinguishing characteristic of world history.

Routledge History of the Ancient World

General Reference

A view of the Athenian Acropolis at night. Source: Unsplash. Creator: elCarito. License: Unsplash license.