Ancient Greece, indeed, lives on in modern culture, evidenced by an ever-present fascination with the tales of Homer, Greek drama, and the spectacular stories associated with Greek mythology. In the rise of Sparta and Athens, and the origins of democracy in Greek society, people today find a wealth of relevant material for understanding not only ancient Greece, but the modern world. And there is no greater fount of learning than that supplied by the immortal philosophers of Greece: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
©2007 Eric H. Cline; (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC
This is a perfectly-pitched survey of Ancient Greece. If you're like me, you know the vague outlines of Greek history, but wanted to know more of the details. If so, this will be an excellent series of lectures for you: the lecturer gives you a solid outline of the historical facts, covering a bit of social history and philosophy along with the stories of the kings and warrriors, and he organizes it well, with summaries at the end to remind you of what you've learned. He never condescends, speaking briskly and packing lots of information into each short lecture.
By the way, the reviewer who says there is 'too much Christianity' in these lectures must be reviewing some other audiobook by mistake - there is no mention of Christianity at all in this one.
This series of lectures is extremely informative and enjoyable. A detailed overview of Greek history it is a very good introduction to the ancient Greeks. If you already have a working knowledge of Greek history it's a pretty good review if you don't it's an even better place to start. Well worth the time and money. I'd buy it again.
A reviewer's got to do what a reviewer's got to do
If you've a vague or no idea of the ancient Greek history and you'd like to know the big picture , this book is for you. The history is presented with clarity and it is easy to follow. However for more knowledgeable readers this is far too light , i.e more an high school book than a source for more academic information. The author goes trough smoothly major events and anecdotes without really trying to raise and discuss more interesting issues that go behind battles and kings.
This audio book may serve as an introduction or review of the titled topic. Professor Cline is very easy to follow. I highly recommend this audiobook.
In lecture on Homer and the Trojan War Professor Cline repeatedly says Alexander where he is speaking of Paris. Editorial support is needed methinks; otherwise great stuff.
The lecture had great promise and I had hoped to enjoy it as much as I had the Modern Scholar lecture on Rome (which was excellent); however, this was not the case. Although deep with facts and interesting (due to the subject matter), there is a clear Christian bias throughout that pollutes the entire lecture and empties it of any credibility. Obviously Christianity is a huge part of the time period but should not have been given any more creedence than was given the Roman or Greek religions in their lectures. Unfortunately it was and this contaminates the descriptions of events, which events were more important than others and the motivations of many of the players. Very unprofessionally done IMHO due to this one glaring error. Too bad really. I do NOT recommend anyone waste their time with this but PLEASE do explore the many other Modern Scholar selections as the others I've tried have been excellent.
"easier than I thought"
I haven't always enjoyed the lecture format of 'modern scholar'- usually they have been good on content but rather difficult listening.
Eric Cline, however was very easy listening- but this was possibly because I knew the topic- or did a few years ago- and downloaded this series as a revision course before a trip to Greece. For that purpose it was excellent.
I was very disappointed with this lecture series.
Firstly, the presentation is very dull; Cline does not speak with any enthusiasm, droning on as if he's bored by his own script. He includes quotations from sources which are too long; if you're going to be quoting for more than a minute, in a lecture format you're better off summarising. The quotes, in addition, were not always well-chosen - for example, when you're attempting to cover so much in 8 hours, why read a long description of the symptoms of the Athenian plague?
This brings me onto my gripe with the overall selection of material in the course. 8 hours go from prehistory to the Hellenistic period results in a course which completely lacks in depth, and Cline does not use his time effectively - for example, he spends the same amount of time on the Trojan War, an event shrouded in myth, as he does on the vastly better-documented Peloponnesian War. The reason Cline does this is obvious: by training, he is an archaeologist, and is therefore very familiar with the excavations at Troy. Now, whilst it may seem foolish of me to cast doubt on Cline's credentials to teach this course, I am so dissatisfied that I must do so.
Cline's area of expertise does not extend to Greek History beyond the 'dark age', and indeed he does not have a record of publication on Classical or Hellenistic Greece. This shows throughout the course, as he has a very shallow understanding of events. For example, he states that Pericles deliberately tried to bring on the Peloponnesian War - definitely a matter of interpretation which should not be stated as fact. He speaks at length about the stories of Cyrus's childhood and Solon's meeting with Croesus, presenting them as if they are part of the historical narrative when they are legendary stories (Solon and Croesus don't even overlap chronologically, for instance). Further, he does not use this extended exposition of these stories to make a point about the development of historiography, making them even more questionable inclusions in the course. Several times, Cline suggests that Spartan society might reasonably be called Communistic or Socialistic - completely inappropriate and anachronistic concepts. Repeatedly, Cline seems to miss the point, or deliver information which he fails to relate to the subject at hand. He even discusses the Roman Emperor Nero's participation in the Olympics and some of the events of his reign - it's as if his mind has completely wandered off on a tangent!
If I recommended this course to any newcomer to Greek history, I would not feel that I was putting them in a safe scholarly pair of hands. This is my first Modern Scholar course, but it has disappointed me in comparison to the Great Courses lectures I have previously seen. I will perhaps try a different Modern Scholar course after checking that the lecturer is working with his specific area of expertise.
"Very good, as far as it goes"
Modern Scholar was recommended to me after I’d had iffy experiences with a couple of Great Courses ancient histories. I wasn’t disappointed. Eric H Cline is an actual professor rather than just another PhD, and presents his material with the assurance and fluency you’d expect. I felt that he did seem to lose a little of his early concision in the later lectures – there’s even an occasion where he repeats one whole point he’s just made – but he’s still much better overall than the Great Courses historians I'd heard.
Although the course is not very long, there’s enough in it to give you a once-and-for-all idea of how ancient Greek history hangs together, and how all those famous names fit in. I did feel that, for the relatively high price, Prof Cline could have added a fair bit more on Greek achievements other than the martial and the philosophical; for example, there’s next to nothing on either Greek theatre, Greek science, or Greek architecture, all of which have left their lasting mark on the world. Even so, you could do far worse than buy this if you want to get a real handle on one of the world’s greatest cultures.
"Very listenable and great content"
One of the better Modern Scholar presentations. Not only an interesting subject (no prior knowledge required) but well read too.
This is a great series isn't it? I've yet to find one of the Modern Scholar releases that doesn't show the spoken word format off at its best. Once again we have a deeply informed academic with an engaging and enthusiastic style offering a gripping overview of a subject which I thought I knew something about but on which it turns out I was pretty ignorant. This is big picture history spanning hundreds of years and huge swathes of the ancient world but Prof Cline keeps the story clipping along with a nice mixture of fine detail and broader analysis.
"Informative and fun"
A brilliant introduction to ancient greek history. Cline manages to make something so distant from modern life relateable.
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