The Rise of Athens

The Story of the World's Greatest Civilization
Narrated by: Michael Page
Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (392 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Filled with tales of adventure and astounding reversals of fortune, The Rise of Athens celebrates the city-state that transformed the world - from the democratic revolution that marked its beginning through the city's political and cultural golden age to its decline into the ancient equivalent of a modern-day university town. Anthony Everitt constructs his history with unforgettable portraits of the talented, tricky, ambitious, and unscrupulous Athenians who fueled the city's rise. An unparalleled storyteller, Everitt combines erudite, thoughtful historical analysis with stirring narrative set pieces that capture the colorful, dramatic, and exciting world of ancient Greece. Although the history of Athens is less well known than that of other world empires, the city-state's allure would inspire Alexander the Great, the Romans, and even America's own founding fathers. It's fair to say that the Athenians made possible the world in which we live today. In this peerless new work, Anthony Everitt breathes vivid life into this most ancient story.

©2016 Anthony Everitt (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Rise of Athens

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Incisive Synopsis of the Ascendancy of Ancient Gre

Excellent, thorough and cohesive modern synopsis that filled in many gaps for this passionate student of ancient Greece. Narration was impeccable.

10 people found this helpful

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Good but not great. With some disturbing opinions.

This was a good overview of Athens and Athen’s place in the greater Hellenic world.
I have read or listened to many other titles by this Author and they are usually relaxing tours of a character or period of the past.
My one main issues with this book is his view on the Greek Pederasty.
The author apologizes or opines his horror of slavery constantly but when it comes to the institutional (mostly upper-class) pedophilia of Ancient Greece it’s treated as romantic love affairs.
The author could have thrown of few opinions on this disgraceful institution that developed in the Hellenic World but he instead tries to turn it into some kind of willing homosexual practice.
This is the same kind of description often used in books about Leonardo Da Vinci and his apprentice Salaì. Many are afraid of criticizing Da Vinci as a pedophile and will often overlook or interpret his abuse of Salaì as a wonderful open love affair when in actuality it was abuse that scarred and ruined his student psychologically for his whole life.
The Greek Erastes (Older Man) and the Eromenos (younger male) a boy that didn’t grow hair on his face were involved in an abusive relationship that, as moderns, we understand cannot be a mutual relationship.
I don’t judge people of the past directly but we can say if something they were doing was wrong by our standards. The author is fine condemning slavery of the past but is unwilling to condemn an equally atrocious institution.

4 people found this helpful

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Essential Listening For History Buffs

I loved this book. I learned so much. So many things I had no idea about laid out in a compelling and propulsive manner. The narration is precise and congenial, like the best professor you ever had. If you are at all interested in ancient history, this book is a must.

4 people found this helpful

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Well done! read before my Athens travel

I read this before trip to Athens, Greece. I learned much more about who had major and minor parts in the rise and fall of a Athens.

Persians, Spartans, Alexander the Great.

However I never thought I would know so much about the naked dancing boys Festival. Yes, that was a thing at one time.

3 people found this helpful

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Athen's and all it's players come to life!

I love Michael Page as a narrator. The pronunciation of Greek names and places is awesome.

The content of this book is great. I think what makes a book like this great is the fact that it drive me to read more dig more into the history. I feel like I need to pick up Xenophon works and reread the Odessey, and it will all come to life more thanks to the context and world this work provides!

2 people found this helpful

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Best book I’ve heard so far

Going to relisten right after I finish, beautiful story and perfectly told.

Beats most fiction I’ve read, with Victor Hugo like characters.

1 person found this helpful

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Bringing history to life

Maybe a better title would be “The Rise and Fall of Athens,” since the author goes beyond just what made it great. There is no question about the greatness of Athens. It set standards of architecture, philosophy, literature, drama, sculpture, math, and science in the 5th and 4th centuries BC that continued to set the standard for centuries to come and are still influential today. Who doesn’t know about the Acropolis, the Parthenon, as well as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, and maybe also Euripides, Archimedes, and so many more. In later years, even after they were no longer a political force, no Roman was considered to be fully educated without going to study in Athens and Rome copied its architecture, and continued to enjoy its plays and literature. It’s language spread throughout the Mediterranean and was the common language long after Athens had fallen and Rome was the power. Much of the vocabulary of English has Greek roots, including democracy (people-power). And, that was another contribution since it was the first true and lasting democratic civilization of any size or significant. It was a pure democracy, meaning that there were no representatives, but that all law and significant decisions were voted on by all, well at least all men who were citizens and of age, leaving out women, slaves, and other non-citizen residents. How was it that Athens became what it was? There had been an aristocracy and they had kings like all the other city-states of that time. And, even after the democracy was established, there was a continuing attempt by many (mostly those of the aristocracy and their descendents) to return to an autocracy. And, was their democracy the reason why they excelled in so many other areas (the author argues that it was)? And, how did they extend their power far beyond their city when there were so many other strong competitors from Sparta, Thebes, and other cities on the Greek peninsula to other powerful empires such as Persia and Carthage? Athens power was partly economic since it had the good fortune to be located on a lode of easily mined silver, but that doesn’t explain it all. The author, Anthony  Everitt, gives us his theme in the beginning, asking how such a tiny community produced so many geniuses to create a civilization that set the entire course of following Western history and beyond and laid the foundation for our political and philosophical heritage. He leads us through the history of the people, the battles, the debates that created this civilization, especially focusing on the creation of democracy. He doesn’t paint a rosy picture and deals with the brutality and cruelty that came with it, but at the same time, he tries not to judge it from a modern point of view but explaining things (including the rampant pederasty) from their point of view as best we can from a distance of 2,500 years. There were many things that were acceptable in the culture that would be criminal or at least morally repugnant today. But, Athens had 200 years of true greatness in almost every area. So, how did it end? What caused it to fall? That part is dealt with in less detail, but the themes are still there. There were many deadly wars, but in the end it was partly the inability to unite the peoples of their empire (as Rome did so skillfully) under one “roof” instead of treating them as subservient to Athens. And, there was that great and cunning king Philip of Macedonia who began to chip away at the corners until he was able to take on Athens herself, and his son Alexander (later also called “the Great”) who ended the democratic experiment. And how well did the experiment work. It worked well in some ways, but as Athens grew, its form of pure democracy, where every male was required to come together to vote, became too unwieldy to operate efficiently and resulted in, practically speaking, a different kind of autocracy as populist, charismatic leaders were able to move the masses, producing a government ruled by a mob controlled by a few. America’s founders looked back at the history of Athens for lessons that they applied in creating the representative democracy that became the second democratic experiment. Eventually Athens herself became a small “university” town educating the young men of the Roman empire and later being almost totally destroyed with just the Acropolis, though decaying and overgrown by weeds remaining. Everitt ends with a quotation from a cleric from the middle ages who said, “You cannot look upon Athens without weeping … A God-forsaken hole!” And, he then quotes Shelley as saying, “We are all Greeks,” showing the influence that Athens still holds over us. Athens remained a small backwater city until the peninsula was united in modern times to produce the modern nation of Greece which chose Athens as its capital. Everitt does an excellent job of presenting more than just a history, but an analysis that answers the questions of why and how that are inevitable as you look back at what Athens was. Highly recommended.

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expected better

from time to time I got a nugget or a good story from this book but more often then not I felt lost. the author will jump back and forth in time without nothing it so you don't understand things that overlap until he mentions a notable figure. I prefer the great courses book, I recently read. it wasn't specific to Athens but dealt with much of this time period and Incorporated many of these stories.

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  • DM
  • 07-17-19

enjoyed the listen

plenty of interesting info, good level of detail, not a dry "read". thought provoking on the topic of sic transit gloria mundi.

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Well told and comprehensive history

Well told story reflecting an incredible range and depth of research spanning the entire history of ancient Greece. Felt like I was there!