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The Joy of Ancient History Lecture

The Joy of Ancient History

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Publisher's Summary

For years, The Great Courses has taken lifelong learners on stirring explorations of our ancient roots; ones that bring you face to face with what history means, and how we use it to understand both the past and the present. So where's the best place to start? Right here with this eclectic and insightful collection of 36 lectures curated from our most popular ancient history courses.

Guided by some of our most highly rated and award-winning professors - including archaeologists, classicists, military historians, and religion scholars - you'll hopscotch around the world and across time to experience the fascinating variety of what ancient history has to offer.

Because the subject itself spans roughly five millennia, this "best of" collection does all the legwork for you, selecting captivating lectures that offer both introductions to and deep dives into some of the most prominent ancient civilizations, including the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. This collection also takes you far afield into the dramatic stories of cultures in Europe, the Middle East, South America, India, China, and other parts of the world.

Listening to some of our brightest academic minds talk about the ancient world, you'll truly understand why we're still captivated by people and events from thousands of years ago, and why they still have much to tell us about where we are. And where we're headed.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (173 )
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4.1 (142 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Emily 06-10-14
    Emily 06-10-14 Member Since 2010

    A Modern Urban Girl Who Loves Learning About the Ancient World

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Ancient World Greatest Hits Playlist"
    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrators are professors speaking directly to the listener so their personalities and enthusiasm for the topics really comes through. No dry voice reading in monotone here.


    Any additional comments?

    This course is like a greatest hits playlist of topics in ancient history, or an ancient world highlight reel. This isn't the "deep cuts" so it is a good place to start if you like ancient history movies or documentary films. It covers the high points, important points and the popular points. These lectures don't include endless background information or things interesting only to academics. These lectures focus on aspects of the ancient world that are still relevant and interesting to the modern world.

    Here's the table of contents:
    JOY OF ANCIENT HISTORY LECTURES
    1 Lessons of the Peloponnesian War
    2 Parthenon and Acropolis
    3 Heroes at Thermopylae
    4 On Athenian Tragedy
    5 The Parable of the Cave
    6 Famous Greeks—Solon
    7 Aristotle's View of the Natural World
    8 The Battles of Megiddo and Kadesh
    9 Greco-Roman Views on Death—and Beyond
    10 Gaius Julius Caesar
    11 Early Germanic Europe
    12 Gladiatorial Games
    13 Dining in Imperial and Republican Rome
    14 The (Mad) Emperor Caligula
    15 Being a Rich Roman
    16 The Mystery Cults
    17 Herodotus’s Account of Egypt
    18 The Great Pyramid of Giza
    19 Being an Egyptian Worker
    20 Cleopatra—The Last Pharaoh
    21 What Do the Mayan Glyphs Say?
    22 The Amazon—Civilization Lost in the Jungle
    23 Chalice of Blood in Ancient Peru
    24 Attila the Hun—Scourge of God
    25 Mesopotamian Creation Stories
    26 The Empire of Hammurabi
    27 The Epic of Gilgamesh
    28 The Chariot Revolution
    29 The Assyrian War Machine
    30 The Art and Architecture of Power
    31 Cyrus, Xenophon, and the Ten Thousand
    32 Opening the First Dead Sea Scroll
    33 Jesus in His Context
    34 The Legend of Troy
    35 The Qin and the First Emperor of China
    36 Alexander Invades India

    70 of 70 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 07-02-14
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 07-02-14 Member Since 2013

    When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "An Ancient History Fruit Salad"

    The 'Joy of Ancient History' is a fruit salad of the best lectures from a vast array of courses on Ancient History by 'The Great Courses.' As an anthology it gives you a taste of everything, without expecting you to finish every fruit. Unfortunately this collection also suffers the shortcomings of anthologies in general. While a tremendous job was done to try and establish cohesion it didn't always work. Listening to the lectures I couldn't help to sometime wish that I could hear a previous lecture just to get into the picture. It spans a vast array of subjects, times and topics. That said, I am grateful for listening to it, because I was introduced to the Terracotta Army, and Prof. J Rufus Ferus' biographical sketches on Julius Caesar (from 'Famous Romans') and Solon (from 'Famous Greeks') made two figures I found boring come alive. Prof. Glen S Holland's lecture on 'Mesopotamian Creation Stories' (from 'Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World') was very interesting. The lost civilisation of the Amazons introduced by Prof. Edwin Barnhart was absolutely fascinating.

    You will have difficulty in not gaining something you never knew from these lectures. 36 of the best lectures by professors of the Great Courses is not something you should just pass by. While I didn't like one or two lectures and I felt it sometimes suffered continuity, I thought the choices was generally excellent, intriguing, gripping and awe-inspiring. A must have for anyone interested in some or other aspect of ancient history.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 12-29-14
    Deep Reader 12-29-14

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not all historians are created equal"

    This is a quick overview of ancient history, consisting of various lectures taken from various courses. Some will inevitably be more interesting to you than others. And you'll have to deal with the professor in each lecture referencing something he or she mentioned at a different point of the original course from which the lecture is taken. Once you're done with this, pursue the courses that you think are most interesting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Beth Waters 08-15-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Varied and interesting"
    What did you love best about The Joy of Ancient History?

    The different subjects and different professors. I added many new titles to my wish list.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Joy of Ancient History?

    The sections on South American cultures. I knew very little about them, but I want to learn more.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Several of the lectures mentioned Ramses II, who's one of my favorites.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, but it definitley kept me interested. I couldn't wait to see what the next subject was going to be.


    Any additional comments?

    A good introduction to ancient history as a whole, and a way to sample different titles to see which ones might interest you. Great Courses needs more compilations like this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William 01-14-15
    William 01-14-15
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    "Great overview and highlights of ancient history"

    Good overview of the great courses ancient history offerings.
    Let's you sample various lecturers and courses. Most are very good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 07-23-14
    Thomas 07-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting History Outlines..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, Brief narrative, interesting topics.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Joy of Ancient History?

    Outline of ancient Athens.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    - Tough to recall. However, a few have such strong accents the narration suffers.


    Could you see The Joy of Ancient History being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Perhaps...


    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rowan Zoe AZ 08-11-16
    Rowan Zoe AZ 08-11-16 Member Since 2014
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    "This covers many different cultures great listen"

    Over all very good listen, some topics I wish were more in depth but over all well worth the time to get a great overview of Ancient history

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron A. Parsons 07-06-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "ambiguous bible stories"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    focus on classical archaeological facts, not idyllic bible stories


    What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    focus on classical archaeological facts, not idyllic bible stories


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    too many bible stories unsubstantiated by classic archaeology


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catholic hermit 07-06-16

    Hermit

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    "sad naming of a cours"

    Very sad that this course of Ancient History starts with the Greeks rather than a truly Ancient Civilization in the East.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 11-08-15
    Robert 11-08-15 Member Since 2015

    Long drive to get to work and back so i have plenty of time to listen.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Makes History Accessable"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Joy of Ancient History to be better than the print version?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    Good over view of the topic, not a book that gets down in the weeds but then it doesnt claim to either. Makes history very accessable for people who find it hard to read the subject.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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