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The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World | [The Great Courses]

The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World

Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.
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Publisher's Summary

Look beyond the abstract dates and figures, kings and queens, and battles and wars that make up so many historical accounts. Over the course of 48 richly detailed lectures, Professor Garland covers the breadth and depth of human history from the perspective of the so-called ordinary people, from its earliest beginnings through the Middle Ages.

The past truly comes alive as you take a series of imaginative leaps into the world of history's anonymous citizens, people such as a Greek soldier marching into battle in the front row of a phalanx; an Egyptian woman putting on makeup before attending an evening party with her husband; a Greek citizen relaxing at a drinking party with the likes of Socrates; a Roman slave captured in war and sent to work in the mines; and a Celtic monk scurrying away with the Book of Kells during a Viking invasion.

Put yourself in the sandals of ordinary people and discover what it was like to be among history's 99%. What did these everyday people do for a living? What was their home like? What did they eat? What did they wear? What did they do to relax? What were their beliefs about marriage? Religion? The afterlife?

This extraordinary journey takes you across space and time in an effort to be another person - someone with whom you might not think you have anything at all in common - and come away with an incredible sense of interconnectedness. You'll see the range of possibilities of what it means to be human, making this a journey very much worth taking.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Becky Popenoe Stockholm, Sweden 02-13-14
    Becky Popenoe Stockholm, Sweden 02-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Erudition, Elegance, Entertainment"

    Other than about five merely 4-star minutes on what medieval knights wore in one of the later lectures, I can find little to fault with this Great Course. Robert Garland makes the past come alive in colorful, carefully chosen, elegant prose. One shouldn't let oneself be fooled by a posh British accent, but let's face it - it doesn't hurt. Nor does Garland's dry humor. He describes the ancient Egyptians, for example, as wearing a lot of "bling", and notes that while the Norman invasion brought to the English language words for cooked cow and pig, i.e. "beef" and "pork", the frenchified Norsemen neglected to teach the Brits how to cook and left them to eat appalling food for another thousand years.

    Surrounding these lighter moments is endlessly fascinating information about how people lived, such as that Rome was full of five-story apartment buildings. Who knew? And that the ancient Egyptians were such a conservative society that only experts can tell the age of paintings they made 500 years apart -- so little did their art change over time. I also came away with a rather different impression of Ancient Greece than I went into the course with, thanks to Garland's detailed descriptions of the separation of the sexes and the way slavery worked. In many ways Ancient Greece reminded me more, in the end, of the Arab world where I have lived, than of modern Western democracies.

    Some might bristle a bit at the slight academic leftist bent to some of the lectures, with their focus on the poor, the slaves, women, the everyman. This is, however, the point of the course, after all, and once you get past the occasional sense that someone's been hanging out a bit too long with the sociology department the information conveyed is all fascinating, not least the nuanced descriptions of how slavery worked in the ancient world (also reminiscent of how slavery still works in remote areas of the Sahel and Maghreb).

    One insight I found provocative was that there was what Garland calls a lack of a social conscience in the ancient world. It occurred to no one, apparently, that slavery was in any way wrong, or that the sexes or even all men were deserving of equal rights. Given the many modern-seeming sentiments -- about love, virtue, self-discipline, ambition, etc.-- that Garland describes among the ancients, it's surprising that none of the many great thinkers of these early civilizations came up with at least the idea that no kinds of humans were, deep down, better than any others, or deserving of the status of chattel. (Of course then Jesus came along and had these ideas to some extent, and he was a product of that world.)

    Another thing I liked about this course was that just when you were thinking, "Really? How can we know that?" about one or another factoid, Garland would explain the source of the information, without every burdening the lecture with too much referencing. And again, just when you would start thinking, "Really? Did they really say that or think that? Am I supposed to just take your word for it?" he would pull out the perfect quotation from an ancient source, giving credence yet again to the sense he delivers so elegantly throughout, that these people really were not so different, in the end, from ourselves.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Seattle, WA, USA 12-28-13
    Anna Seattle, WA, USA 12-28-13 Member Since 2007
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    "THIS is the kind of history I care about!"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm not much interested in who won which wars, or in developments in weaponry and battle tactics, or in ancient politics. This series of lectures delves into what *does* interest me: how everyday people lived their lives, in as much detail as possible, in a generous selection of ancient (western) cultures. Professor Garland's delivery is the icing on the cake. He seems knowledgeable and clearly interested in his subject matter, but lightens his lectures with a gentle and sometimes irreverent (but never disrespectful) twinkle. One credit bought me more than 24 delightful hours of pleasant and informative listening. One of my best purchases from Audible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 12-03-13
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 12-03-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Gave me a thirst for more"
    Where does The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was my first Great Courses book. What a treat to learn so many things that I had no real Idea about. I have bought several courses since then and find that if I speed up the voice to 2 times the normal speed I can digest all kinds of information rather quickly. If I had payed more attention in school, this info would not be so new to me. The narrator was very interesting to listen to and gave a perspective of the common man that I found very enjoyable.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie Magoo San Francisco 08-15-13
    Maggie Magoo San Francisco 08-15-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Kept me engaged, but wasn't great"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    The time didn't drag, but I didn't learn much new, having read many well-researched books about these eras.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    I was expecting richer content, total immersion on other cultures and times, like what's in David Hackett's Albion's Seed. This didn't come close to that.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    For a college professor, his delivery was excellent. Could tell he'd rehearsed, researched, and written about the content extensively.


    Could you see The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No. This is more for background use by film producers and set and clothing designers.


    Any additional comments?

    If I'd paid Colgate's tuition for this course, I would have been shocked. For one thing, I can't imagine how someone could come up with in-depth exam questions from content this light.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 05-28-14
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 05-28-14 Member Since 2009

    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.

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    "Climb through the ‘looking-glass’"

    Focussing on Everyman throughout history, Dr. Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, USA, attempts to put you, the listener, in the everyday sandals of different people of the Ancient World. Cladding the listener with the respective identities of a Palaeolithic human (1 lecture), a Mesopotamian (1 lecture), an Egyptian (4 lectures), a Greek (11 lectures), a Roman (11 lectures), the different ancestors of the British (4 lectures) and that of a Medieval person (7 lectures), he confronts you with the lives of ordinary humans. This is probably the reason why the material presented is so interesting.

    The comparisons with our own day and age makes it fascinating. Dr. Garland is a tour guide that takes you through the proverbial looking-glass to show you the other side of history. This metaphor he uses in various way throughout the course hence he is able to bind 48 30 minute lectures together in a whole. I admire the way he carefully compiled and structured the course. He kept me with him even though I am not British or American. (I was acutely aware of his Western bias during the course. It is probably also the reason for its popularity.)

    Throughout the lectures, Dr. Garland was engaging. I didn’t count any ‘uhm’ or ‘ah.’ The course is highly polished and tremendously informative. So if you are interested in history or just everyday life, recline at this table the cuisine is ready to be enjoyed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff United States 01-15-14
    Jeff United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Fantastic lecture series"
    Any additional comments?

    This lecture series is packed with very interesting information, and professor Garland is very easy to listen to. If you're at all interested in history and what daily life was like in the past, I would heartily recommend it to you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dale Red Bluff, CA, United States 01-15-14
    Dale Red Bluff, CA, United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2012
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    "OUTSTANDING!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World the most enjoyable?

    The author's unique perspective on history...i.e. from "the other side".


    What did you like best about this story?

    I felt as if I was a part of history again...loved it!


    Which character – as performed by Professor Robert Garland – was your favorite?

    No favorite


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it was better broken up into manageable chunks...gave me time to chew over what I'd just heard.


    Any additional comments?

    Wish Professor Garland had more similar lectures...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nate NORMAL, IL, United States 01-12-14
    Nate NORMAL, IL, United States 01-12-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Simply amazing"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World to be better than the print version?

    Truly worth a listen or two. Kudos to Prof Robert Garland, he provides a rich listener experience.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua MEDFORD, NJ, United States 01-08-14
    Joshua MEDFORD, NJ, United States 01-08-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Enthralling experience through ancient history"
    If you could sum up The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World in three words, what would they be?

    Personable, relate-able, fascinating


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    His recitation of Chaucer in Middle English, I enjoyed hearing what I would guess to be an authentic accent to how the language was spoken.


    What does Professor Robert Garland bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His quips about his personal feelings or how we would personally feel if we lived during those times.


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

    I laughed at his story when he was 6 and burst out singing the hymn for the holy crusade in the middle of a restaurant with his family.

    Maybe a theme that I've discussed with my friends about how he stresses how dangerous life was in ancient times, especially during Greek and Roman times, how easily it was to become sick or injured and how often those occurrences could leave you permanently disfigured or dead.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd enjoy meeting this professor.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Bangor, ME, United States 12-14-13
    J. Bangor, ME, United States 12-14-13 Member Since 2013

    I really enjoy a good audio book, -mostly lectures, mostly History. I enjoy the philology, archeology as well.

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    "Outstanding insights, excellent narration"
    Would you listen to The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World again? Why?

    Because of the Professors skillful delivery I'll definitely be giving this title another listen. This lectures series will round out your timeline with useful details that make it easier to parse the bigger picture.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend this title to anyone who loves History.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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