The ancient Greeks left the world that came after them - particularly our own and our ways of seeing it - an incalculable legacy. Mention politics, philosophy, law, medicine, history, even the visual arts, and we barely scratch the surface of what we owe this extraordinary culture. How can we best learn about these people who have given us so much, who have deepened and enriched our understanding of ourselves, and whose world remains far closer than we might imagine?
The 36 lectures of this sparkling series from a frequently honored teacher is an outstanding place to begin, as Professor Schenker opens up to us the epics of Homer; the dramatic genius of the playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes; and the poems of Archilochus, Sappho, and many others. He includes some of the world's greatest works of history and philosophy, and he gives rhetoric and oratory their proper due, as well.
Beginning with Homer and the two great epics credited to him, the Iliad and the Odyssey - including a provocative discussion of whether Homer even existed - Professor Schenker offers a wide-ranging overview of the subject that is both instructive and entertaining. His lectures are rich in anecdote, so that the works are set against a vivid backdrop of their times, as exemplified by his description of the debut of Aeschylus's the Eumenides, first staged in Athens in 458 B.C.E.
You'll learn that the presentation was said to have elicited full-blown terror in its audience. When the Furies - the hideous, avenging spirits roused from sleep by the ghost of the murdered Clytemnestra - appeared in the audience, men are said to have shrieked and fainted, with pregnant women miscarrying on the spot.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses
I might listen to this lecture again selectively, but I probably would buy a hard copy book (with more actual quotations from the Masterpieces) next time.
How (and where) the "Argonautica" fits in the timeline of Greek Literature (it is Hellenistic, not Classic, greek).
I very much appreciated the Professor's selection of quotations and his occasional quotes from the original Greek. This helped me appreciate his depth of understanding of the topic and also why the original is never really reachable in translation (as is true of Chinese and Japanese). He also has great passion for the topic and this makes what is normally taught as boring old stories come alive.
No. It is better taken in 2-3 lecture sequences at a time.
Really appreciated the chronological presentation (now I have a framework) and how Professor relates later Masterpieces to earlier traditions.
NOTE: This book can be listened to at 1.25x without loss of content but may be appreciated better at 1.0x.
He gets it
Few academics fully understand the context of the works at the time they were produced and performed. Professor Schenker understands and articulates the performance aspects of the work. Homer was sung, not just recited. It was a form of entertainment and was focused on the ancestry of the audience. This is highly overlooked.
Well constructed and well preformed lectures hold the interest of the listener just as the works discussed were designed to hold the interest of the audiences of the time.
Professor David Schenker is so excited by his subject matter it is a joy to listen to him talk, even about the tragedies. I remember Professor Schenker excitedly considering the possibility that the actors might have come out in blood covered masks after one particularly gory scene. Hearing the delight in his voice, I remember thinking "damn, this guy loves himself some Greek literature." His enthusiasm is infectious. Loved it.
David Schenker's winning personality will likely attract all kinds of new audiences to ancient Greek literature.
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