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Publisher's Summary

Join Professor Fears for this riveting 24-lecture examination of fascinating figures who shaped the story of Greece from the Trojan War through the rise of Rome. What do their lives, studied in the context of their times, tell us about virtue and vice, folly and wisdom, success and failure? 

Inspired and informed by the monumental works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch, these lectures allow you to do exactly that, guided by a truly great teacher. From the heroes of the Trojan War to Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, Professor Fears ushers you into the lives, achievements, and influence of many of the figures who made Greek history. 

Among these are great warriors such as Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, Odysseus, and Alexander the Great; masterful statesmen including Lycurgus, Solon, and Philip of Macedonia; profound thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and artists and writers such as Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Thucydides, and Plutarch. These lectures are informed by a fine moral awareness and a deep familiarity with the times these famous lives were lived. By exploring these famous Greek lives in this context, you'll also discover new ways to read familiar classics by Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and Plato. And in keeping with that historical spirit, Professor Fears draws lessons from each life studied in this course, charting with you the intellectual and artistic currents of one of the most creative civilizations in world history.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Famous Greeks

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He put all the pieces together

I'm an engineer and have been interested in history since an earlier age. From childhood, I heard about fascinating things of Ancient Greece: its myths, architecture and stories of its wars. However, because there are plenty of things to talk for each of those topics, many books or lectures introduce them separately and I never got the whole picture. I was eager to find a lecture with a comprehensive introduction.

I gave this lecture a try because I loved Prof Fears' "Famous Romans". It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Prof Fears' story telling is fantastic. But most importantly, he put together all the puzzle pieces of the whole picture while those Famous Greeks serve as the brightest parts.

To list a few of my previous missing links: what happened to Sparta and Athens between Greco-Percian War and Peloponitian war? why did Greeks hate Socrates after Peloponetian war? why did Aristotle teach a barbarian prince? what happened to Greece when Rome rose?

If you have the similar missing links, give it a try and Prof Fears will give you the answers.

16 people found this helpful

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J Rufus Fears hits another home run.

Dr.Fears is one of a kind in telling these famous stories and tying the timeless lessons to today's world. His presentations are fascinating and appropriate for teaching the young the importance of the classics and possibly lighting a fire under them for future study. For older listeners, it is a great review for many a forgotten tale and gives ,for myself anyway, a more mature understanding of the lessons of these histories which are not understood as being relevant when studying in your teens, if they even teach these things anymore.

5 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking

...in scope and importance, from Professor Fears teaching that our Founding Fathers considered history to be the most important subject, to putting flesh on the bones of Herodotus, to the unjust death sentence of Socrates, to the tragic end of Antony and Cleopatra, my life will never be the same. I am wiser, because I know that I do not know, and that hubris destroys.
Thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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Fine Introduction

Professor Fears does a fine job bringing to life the world of ancient Greece and illuminating the ideas, philosophies, and motives of some of the towering figures of ancient Greek history. Pericles, Socrates, Plutarch, Thucydides, Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus, and Cleopatra are discussed among others. I was a bit bummed that Alexander the Great was only given one full lecture. The final lecture on Cleopatra was very interesting. I have been studying Roman history for years and found new material about Mark Anthony. This course is overshadowed a bit by his "Famous Romans" course, but I don't think that is the professor's fault. Rome was vast, integrated (more or less) and operated on a time scale of centuries. It's stories are bound to be a bit more gripping and fascinating. Highly recommended.

7 people found this helpful

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OK, not great

The professor clearly has an attitude of worshiping the Greeks. Anyone who knows enough about history knows the reality is much darker. Do the "English people" really think the battle of Thermopylae is more important than the battle of Hastings? I'm fairly sure when the Angles and Saxons were ravaging the lands of Roman Britain, they couldn't care less about the "Greeks". Personally I prefer the courses from professor Robert Garland, the "Athenian Democracy" being my favorite. I felt his point of view is much more objective.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MT
  • 05-12-16

Absolute Delight!

This was course was nothing short of outstanding! I enjoyed every second of it. You don't even have to be interested in Ancient Greece. This course will appeal to anyone interested in humanity, wisdom, morality, and leadership. It has some of the most insightful reflections on greatness that I have ever seen. Bravo!

2 people found this helpful

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Great lectures

This professor is so good and telling great stories all the while tying it into good life lessons.

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So good, I was sad it was over

J Rufus Fears, weaves history through masterful storytelling. This is both educational and entertaining.

I've just bought Famous Romans and am eager to start!!!

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Great!

Great! I highly recommend this title. Fashioned around Plutarch's Lives it really filled in some blank spots for me.

Fred Davis
Awakening Clarity Now

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Amazing speaker!

amazing speaker and very well organized in his presentation to keep you captivated every minute

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  • piers
  • 02-27-15

Fantastic Fears

I have been listening to lectures for a long time and The Teaching Company/ The Great Courses are generally very good but Professor Fears is their best lecturer, funny, succint, a great actor.

History in his hands is fascinating, clear and compelling, even casting light on some of Socrates impenetrable musings. Famous Greeks, Famous Romans and Churchill are superb. I cant reccommend enough

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  • Manish
  • 08-05-18

Other Courses

Great set of lectures. Covers all major characters. However I question the value as a stand alone and this really should be read in conjunction with the other courses on Ancient Greece to put course into context

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  • EmilyK
  • 05-18-20

Conservative and overly dramatic

Professor Fears comes from a conservative and "great man" type of historical examination. He also spends a good bit of time summarizing plots. I found his presentation overly melodramatic as well. I would highly recommend Professor McInerney's Greek great courses instead. Those are truly wonderful and worth a repeat listen.

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  • artemisia2009
  • 05-05-20

Great Content - Terrible Delivery!

While the subject is fascinating, I was unable to finish this as the lecturer's delivery is a weird hybrid of a really enthusiastic am-dram actor and a really bad stand-up comedian. He also mis-pronounced words frequently one example is cavalry (as in horse mounted soldiers) but he always pronounces it 'calvary' as in the town outside Jerusalem. Disappointed as I really enjoy these courses normally ☹

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  • DS
  • 02-04-17

Often pompous and inaccurate

What did you like best about Famous Greeks? What did you like least?

Many of the stories are interesting of course, but the lecturer is hard to bear. He comes across as the kind of old fashioned academic who equates wisdom with large words and unusual pronunciations, and who thinks his credentials as a classicist gives him the authority to make strained comparisons between the Greek world and his conservative take on american politics.

He is also often inaccurate. He makes no distinction between reliable and unreliable sources and gives the listen no indication that he is sometimes drawing from contemporary sources and sometimes from a myth that appeared hundreds of years later. I only recognised this for the figures I did know, but it meant I couldn't trust what he said about the figures I did not know. I stopped about three quarters of the way through.

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  • Leanne
  • 02-18-15

Loved it

Very informative, easy to listen to.
Great knowledge and detailed accounts of the famous Greeks