The Long Shadow of the Ancient Greek World

Narrated by: Ian Worthington
Length: 25 hrs
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (183 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Immerse yourself in this comprehensive survey of ancient Greece from 750 to 323 B.C. - from the emergence of Greece at the end of the Dark Ages to the final disintegration of Greek autonomy through the Macedonian kings Philip II and Alexander the Great.

These 48 riveting lectures tell the story of ancient Greek institutions and the people who molded them during the Archaic and Classical periods.

Concentrating on the city-states of mainland Greece, with a special focus on Athens, Professor Worthington guides through some of history's most hard-fought struggles - from armed conflicts (such as the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War, and the campaigns of Alexander the Great) to political and social struggles (including the late 6th-century civil war in Athens that pitted nobles against the lower classes and eventually produced the first stirrings of democracy).

As you explore innovative Athenian approaches to democracy, law, and empire, you discover how these approaches served as the bedrock for ideas and practices that you live with every day. You also encounter a wealth of intriguing links to many of our own contemporary institutions and attitudes about democracy, law, and empire.

By the end of Professor Worthington's final captivating lecture, you discover that there was nothing inevitable about democracy, the Western concept of justice, or any of the other traditions and institutions that now play such central roles in the politics of the modern Western world. The story of how this tentative structure transformed into the firm foundation of our contemporary world is gripping, enlightening, and immensely rewarding.

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

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent. Compelling and informative.

What about Professor Ian Worthington’s performance did you like?

He is clearly excited and passionate about the subject, and this comes across both in his delivery and in his planning and preparation of the content.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Too many to list!

Any additional comments?

The other commenter should not be trusted, his review is completely inaccurate. I would say this is a matter of subject preference, but there is so little in it that corresponds to reality that I do not doubt he must have listened only to one or two lectures before giving up, likely having too little interest in the subject matter to begin with.

19 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic primer, can get a little dull at times

The instructor is great; clear, concise, entertaining and endearing. Two thumbs up.

The course itself provides a great deal of context - it tied together all the disparate facts about Greece in my head. The coverage is extensive, from essentially prehistoric Greece to the Hellenistic period after Alexander the Great.

I also enjoyed the point of view of the instructor: he was careful to state when he was offering a personal view vs. A consensus view.

I give the content 4/5 since there were several classes focused on the details of legal procedures which I found very dull.

Definitely would recommend this lecture series for anyone interested in ancient Greek history who is not already an expert.

8 people found this helpful

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Great Place to Start Your Journey Into Greek History

Professor Worthington does an amazing job painting the total picture of Ancient Greece, with a clear chronology from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic. His viewpoints stem primarily from Athens and have a lot of interpretation of the Athenian Constitution. He is very clear to point out his own viewpoints and how they differ from current perspectives. My absolute favorite is how much Professor Worthington HATES Pericles, which whom I also find quite over rated.

As for the negative review of this lecture. I'm not sure what they are talking about. My guess is they did not give Professor Worthington much of a chance past the first lecture or so.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Amazing History, Distracting Delivery

The course started enjoyable enough for the first 10 lectures. I had high expectations after listening to Fagan's History of Ancient Rome with Great Courses. He was very transparent to the primary sources, provided a survey of modern scholarly consensus, and synthesized this material from his own perspective at a very high level. He helped remind the listener that history is complex, and that many historical theories or frameworks over-simplify events, even as they help us focus.

Worthington's approach is almost the opposite. While he does often cite the primary sources, I don't think he always makes it clear when he is imagining situations and hypotheticals or getting material from ancient writers or archaeology. He often forgoes scholarly consensus and leaves the listener with his own "heresies", as he calls them himself. And his "heresies" often sound like amateur psychoanalyses of long dead men, or even psychoanalyses of whole regions and peoples. I admire his historic imagination, but the implausibility of his hypothetical explanations and counterfactual reasoning leaves me wondering what historians actually agree on or believe about these events.
He spends a lot of time on petty debates, like who should be called "the Father of Democracy." He doesn't think multiple people can get credit, because children can't have more than one biological father (fallacy of equivocation). This tangent wasn't brief, and its not uncommon.
Or how about "the Persians would have been demoralized after their victory at Thermopylae because they knew they only won because they outnumbered the Greek's and found a passage to flank them."

It sounds like people also had a let-down experience going from Fagan's History of Rome to the other Greek survey course done by McInerney. Still, I wish I had just gone with that one, and will probably try it next.

3 people found this helpful

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Only Political, Not Much Else

The title and description of this course is misleading. I assumed it would be a comprehensive survey of ancient greece, but the course only focuses on political and military events. There's almost nothing on greek art, science, philosophy, religion and mythology, or daily life. Plus, he seems obsessed with making you learn a ton of greek words, as if this were a course on the greek language instead of greek history.

2 people found this helpful

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Hard to Stay Engaged

I can't say this was a bad course but because it did not capture and retain my attention and I found myself counting the minutes and lectures down to the end it is hard for me to rate this above 2 stars.

While the focus of the course is on democracy, law, and imperialism, it would’ve been good if the beginnings of the first Greek civilizations were discussed: Minoan and Mycenaean. Again I understand his focus was on other topics but I found it disappointing that among 48 lectures more time couldn't have been found to spare on other cornerstones of Greek influence on the modern world including Greek philosophy, theater, and the Homeric poems.

The professor has a unique style. Alot of time it was like he was presenting the lectures like one big story by a campfire. I actually found that endearing. But there are other times when it feels like he is talking to a classroom of elementary school children like his propensity to ask simple questions such as "Why would he do that?" or "Where was he going?". His humor mostly feel flat with me. However, there's no disputing the professor knows his stuff and is very comfortable presenting.

He does a good job of achieving what he set out to do: recount ancient Greek history focusing on democracy, law, and imperialism from aprx. 750 B.C. to 323 B.C (emergence of Greece at the end of the Dark Ages and the final disintegration of Greek autonomy through the Macedonian kings Philip II and Alexander the Great). I just feel like there has to be better ancient Greek courses out there that encompass all aspects of that long shadow including theater, philosophy, etc and can do so in a more engaging manner.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Such a wonderful and well executed course detailing all the important events and people in Greek history. This course is a must.

2 people found this helpful

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nice overview

nice overview. was the last of the available more generalized great courses on ancient greece for me to listen too and it didnt feel too redundant. a nice refresher before i listen to one more book on egypt and then dive straight into the direct focus on alexander and the transitionary time towards a roman centric world

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Not worthy of Great Courses

The information presented is good but the lecturer is not.

His self-important style detracts from the presentation. He often finds opportunities for self-promotion and self-aggrandizement at the expense of the delivery of the material.

His manner of reading reminds me of an obtuse and arrogant adult slowly reading to what they think is a stupid child.

This was a painful experience and not something I expected to find within the “Great Courses” offerings.

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Discontinued listening

Halfway through - in lecture 24 - he suddenly, out of the blue, for no apparent reason, starts to mock Jesus Christ.
Ofc. it's deliberate, I guess these liberal professors just can't help themselves, but have to do that.
I returned it and If I could, I would give it zero stars - it turned worthless in a second.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Greg Gauthier
  • 06-03-18

Thorough, entertaining, and insightful

Professor Worthington's lectures are a treasure trove of insight into the early history of Western Civilization, and what we see when we peer into that ancient cradle, is that this baby is as ugly as it is beautiful. One thing I have always appreciated about good lecturers, is their ability to spin a narrative that is both self-critical and self-affirming, and Worthington does a masterful job of it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • mr
  • 03-18-14

Good

not what i expected. very good, large focus on law and democracy. goes through the battles, just more human focused.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-16-19

A Whole New Old World

Despite being a history graduate, I was never much interested in Ancient and Classical history - bearded philosphers and red and black pots.
I wish I had had Ian Worthington as a teacher - he is enlightening and entertaining and his heresies make sense !
His subject matter is complex and subject to different interpretations - but his narrative leads you through it in a thoughtful way - leaving you to make up your own mind.
I highly recommend these lectures - he is an entertaining companion in this fascinating world.

1 person found this helpful

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  • William
  • 08-07-18

excellent

With almost no background knowledge of ancient Greece I wondered how I would fare with this audio book. I have to say that I found it very informative and easy to listen to. it is always good when something of the lecturer's personality comes through as it did with these lectures. Now to go over the lecture notes supplied in the pdf file. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Eder Souza
  • 02-06-20

Just great.

Very well narrated, even in complex parts of the book you still can understand very much. Fantastic

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  • Geordiestu
  • 07-18-18

Absolutely loved this course about Ancient Greece.

I have a few books from Ian Worthington and enjoyed them all. But this course is the next level. I enjoyed his delivery, and his proposed questians to get you to think. I will no doudt listen to it again and again

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  • Finn
  • 06-03-18

Fascinating account of the Ancient Greek world

The content and delivery of these lectures was excellent. Ancient Greece was brought to life by Worthington; his series was a balanced discussion of political, military and social developments - and why they were so important. His detailed analysis and enthusiastic delivery made this a joy to listen to. I will now be going on to read some of the books he has written on Philip and Alexander.