"Classics: A Very Short Introduction" by Mary Beard & John Henders


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Title: Classics: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Mary Beard & John Henders
Start Date: 1/7/18
End Date: 1/10/18
# of Pages: 160
Edition: Oxford University Press revised paperback (2000)
ISBN: 9780192853851
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: introductory

Source: Justin Sok

Why I Chose It: My friend Justin told me about this series of short introductory books (sorry, very short) on an audaciously wide set of topics. I love sets of things, so I picked the first book and gave it a read.

Quotes: (1) "Greece gave western culture common roots that all educated people at least could share...to be interested in the classical world has often meant literally to go there, to embark on a voyage into the unknown." (2) "We can never come to Classics as complete strangers. There is no other foreign culture that is so much part of our history." (3) "How does it affect our admiration of (say) Athenian democracy to recognize it as a slave-owning democracy, and to see that it could not have been a democracy if it had not amassed a spectacular number of slaves...is it fair to judge the Greeks and Romans by our own contemporary moral standards? Or is it impossible not to?" (4) "George Washington, for example, declaredly modeled himself on Cincinnatus, famously called from the plough to be consul (chief magistrate), then, after saving the state, going straight back to his humble farm with never a thought of holding on to power."

Other Notes: This format is really interesting - it doesn't try to explain all the basics of the history and content of Classics (studies of Ancient Rome and Greece), it picks one place and uses different facets of it to dive into different topics. It is a great marriage of a wide survey with deeper dives. I'm interested in reading more from this series.

BooksKarl Magnuson