Edith Hall unpacks the mysterious and successful ancient Greek people through ten uniquely ancient Greek personality traits.
They gave us democracy, philosophy, poetry, rational science, the joke. They built the Parthenon and the Library of Alexandria. They wrote the timeless myths of Odysseus and Oedipus, and the histories of Leonidas’s three hundred Spartans and Alexander the Great.
But who were the ancient Greeks? And what was it that enabled them to achieve so much?
Here, Edith Hall gives us a revelatory way of viewing this geographically scattered people, visiting different communities at various key moments during twenty centuries of ancient history.
Identifying ten unique traits central to the widespread ancient Greeks, Hall unveils a civilization of incomparable richness and a people of astounding complexity – and explains how they made us who we are today.
‘A thoroughly readable and illuminating account of this fascinating people… This excellent book makes us admire and like the ancient Greeks equally’
‘A worthy and lively introduction to one of the two groups of ancient peoples who really formed the western world’
‘Throughout, Hall exemplifies her subjects’ spirit of inquiry, their originality and their open-mindedness’
‘A book that is both erudite and splendidly entertaining’
Natalie Haynes, Observer
“Hall examines in scholarly but very readable detail.”
Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
“Hall’s superb history achieves her aim with a happy marrying of literature and archaeology.”
Lesley McDowell, Independent
“[Hall] provides a thoroughly readable and illuminating account of this fascinating people… This excellent book makes us admire and like the ancient Greeks equally”
John Davie, Independent
“If you’re interested in their history then it is worth reading, and I think even those with some knowledge of the Greeks would learn something from this book.”
Judith Griffith, Nudge
“A worthy and lively introduction to one of the two groups of ancient peoples who really formed the western world”
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
“This new tome serves as a fantastic general introduction”
“Edith Hall has a brilliant ability to intellectually analyse the Greeks… because of deep, searching curiosity, and her sense of how this culture reflects upon our moment now. Her writing is so clear and accessible… full of complex reflections and revelations”
“Wide-ranging and endlessly fascinating… It is a fitting tribute to history that ought to be preserved… because it would, at the very least, enrich our conversation and range of comparison with events today”
Daisy Dunn, Standpoint
“This crisp little book is also worth reading for Hall’s elegant prose”
Suzi Feay, Financial Times
“Throughout, Hall exemplifies her subjects’ spirit of inquiry, their originality and their open-mindedness… And in doing that…she reminds us of how civilizing and humanizing a study of the ancients can be”
“A fascinating read, delightfully illustrated with unusual and exquisite drawings”
Michael Scott, BBC History Magazine
“Groundbreaking ... acutely identifies and brilliantly explores ten defining qualities that together explain why we simply cannot do without the ancient Greeks”
Professor Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge
“21st-century readers eager to understand the glorious contributions of the ancient Greeks have their own ideal escort in Edith Hall”
Adrienne Mayor, Literary Review
“An intriguing and rewarding journey through 2000 years of Greek history”
Good Book Guide
“A book that is both erudite and splendidly entertaining”
Tony Barber, Financial Times