I was excited to find this book, but I was eventually disappointed in that selection. Don't get me wrong. I thought it was a good series. It just wasn't what I surmised from the title. I have taught introductory courses about the ancient world. I know about ancient cultural practice: religion, class, labor, concepts of the world, gender roles, etc. What I was hoping for was a clear picture of daily life. Where did these people sleep? What did they do when they got up in the morning? What did they do during the day? At night? How exactly, really, specifically, did the daily life of a king differ from that of a laborer, for example? I wanted to be able to see individual people living their lives.
His voice was pleasant, easy to listen to.
Say something about yourself!
A different reader. I have two issues with Robert Garland's presentation. First, he has a fairly noticeable lisp. I don't think this would bother me if it didn't somehow compound his far bigger shortcoming. He reads one. word. at. a. time. With great emphasis on each word in a way that if I was just learning the language I would love. He doesn't do it in the part that you can hear in the sample and on other occasions he is clearly speaking off the cuff and sounds perfectly fine. The other 90% are very difficult to listen to. If the subject were just slightly less interesting, I could easily delete the whole thing.
Not even a little.
I didn't love this course. Some parts were good, and I learned a *couple* of new things, but overall it seemed slow and not unfamiliar. It was a good premise, to explore history from the perspective of your average ancient Greek craftsman, Roman wife, or medieval nun, but I found much of it intuitive and even redundant. Professor Gardner was clearly enthused and enthralled by his topics, and loved telling his story in a first or second person as if actually in ancient Egypt touring Alexandria, or watching a chariot race... But I was not as invested.
I would have been interested to hear a bit more, in fact, on some of the periods and peoples which he covered quickly - Babylon, Persia, pre-Roman Britain... And what about the folks not in the greater European region during those times? He mentions the Saracens in the crusades lecture, but we get very little on them and the Arabic culture that's been developing while we were preoccupied with the Battle of Hastings... Not to mention the other folks beyond the Western World... I understand that he could elaborate more and greater varieties of folks when there was more info from archaeology to give evidence, but I think his discussions of the lives of women and slaves, of the poor and infirm, were all so similar that they might have been combined somehow.
Even when it wasn't redundant feeling, I felt familiar with a lot of the material already. I think I got 98% of what he discusses on Egypt from the Great Course devoted to Ancient Egypt. And I felt like little was new in Greece and Rome - though perhaps I just had a good high school history teacher. And I did have the advantage too of having traveled to many of the Hellenistic sites mentioned on a school sponsored trip - so having been to Olympia, Epidurous, Athens, and Delphi, I was familiar with those stories if the healers, the games, the temples, and the oracles, etc. On that trip too, we visited Rome and Pompeii, so I have imagined the Gladiators, the forum, the baths, etc. so not much was new to me in that era of topics either. Actually, some of the only unfamiliar material was in his more detailed discussions of the death practices. I took a class too, during my study abroad in Scotland, on the Celts and wrote papers on Boudicca and Roman architecture in Britain, so nothing new to speak of from those lectures. Most of what he discussed in the Medieval section I knew from having read the really great historical fiction Katherine by Anya Seaton - that book had everything from Chaucer himself and the royal court, knights, the peasants, the plague, the castles, the heretics, and more...
I did like that he put being a knight and a crusader into better perspective, that is so very romanticized generally. The penultimate lecture on relaxing - sports and music etc was good too.
Basically, I have reaffirmed that I would not have wanted to live in any of those times or places. If I had, I'd have likely been abused if I lived past childhood at all, and would have likely have died in childbirth by now, and if not, I still can't expect to live more than another ten years and will likely do so in poverty. And thank goodness for modern medicine!
Oh, and I can't forget to mention this cause it bugged me the whole 24+ hours : Prof Garland is a good lecturer and really into his stuff, but his lisp drove me nuts. He sounds completely normal, even stereotypical British classicist -until he pronounces the letter "s"... Having studied some articulatory phonetics, I think I can say fairly that his sibilants were overly lateralized, creating a big messy "shh" sound amidst otherwise good elocution. I don't mean to hold it against him, but it Drove me nuts. Listen to the sample before buying, in case that's a deal breaker for you.
FYI, if you really don't feel like spending thirty dollars on an audio lecture that applies feminism to history, then you probably don't want to waste your time with this.
I don't know. I am so sick and tired of this feminist/sjw thing, that I don't think there is anything in the universe that can force me to sit through it any longer.
It's not all bad. I just don't really feel like learning history through the lens of feminism. Sorry.
This course is exactly what you're looking for if the title interests you. The professor goes over so much information from the clothes ancient people's wore to what their houses would of been like.
A few cogent moments are drowned in misinterpretations colored by bias. Wit without wisdom highlights the lack of deep understanding.
Every other Great Course has had merit except this. It should be removed from the library.
I loved every single chapter of this lecture series. An enthralling journey through time that takes you to parts of history seldom taught but most relevant to our lives. I learned a very great deal. Thank you!!!
There has not been much written about the average person in those times. Now you have it
Trash dumps in Egypt where records are being found
He presents the subject in the form as one of those he is talking about
You will have fun in this course besides learning a lot.
I have listened to around 10 courses from The Great Courses and this is so far the greatest. It is a fascinating and harrowing journey though time. Mr. Garland is a true master at story telling, at placing the listener in the mind frame of their distant brethren.