Books On Ancient Greek History

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Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 08:13 pm
Hi guys,

Anyone has any good books to recommend for a concise overview of ancient greek history?

I'm interested in books that cover the greek bronze age till medieval byzantine ages.

It should be a pure factual historical book and not philosophically based.

Thanks in advance!
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 08:17 pm
@Lonewolf,
I study the ancient Greek language and ancient Greek philosophy, but I cannot help you with your request on a historical book. I will ask one of my professors tomorrow for a recommendation and I can get back to you.
 
Lonewolf
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 08:46 pm
@Theaetetus,
Thanks!

I'm studying both classical greek language and philosophy too.

And my professor said it would be good to understand the climate of Greece from a pure historical point of view so that I can understand their philosophies better contextually.

Thanks for you help again!
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2009 10:07 am
@Lonewolf,
A good book offering a somewhat concise history of ancient greece is "Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History" second edition by Sarah B. Pomeroy, et. al. It covers the essential expansion of ancient greece from the Minoan civilization up until the end of the Hellenistic period around 30 C.E. But what is really useful is the fact that the authors give you a very concise summary of neolithic history in the region from 6500-3000 BCE, when the minoan civilization essentially begins. That being said, it is a good book for everything up until Greece looses it primary identity under Roman authority. However, if you are looking for a substantive history of greece following the wars of the Diadochi (succession wars post alexander the great), you need to refer to Roman history.

I would also suggest that if you want to engage in a serious study of ancient greece, you need to study Greek art. The dark age of ancient greece (1100-700 BCE) for example is separated by distinct painting and pottery styles, such as protogeometric, geometric, orientalized, etc. The same could be said of the other distinct eras of ancient greece. The book to read for this is "Greek Art" fourth edition by John Boardman.

Philosophy wise, the Pomeroy book has a few pages on philosophy and science (pgs 138-141). But this is really nothing that huge. Early exploration of cosmology by Hesoid and a brief historical context of the development of ontology from Thales to Parmenides. But if you are interested in Greek philosophy and history mixed into it, you may want to check out two books. The first is "Greek Philosophy: Thales to Aristotle" Third edition by Reginald E. Allen. This book is primarily composed of contextualized fragments, which is really good because most of the early greek philosophers are fragmentary anyway, so the author does a good job of linking everything together. Another good book is "Early Greek Philosophy" by Jonathan Barnes. He provides the fragments as-is, but puts a very good historical context at the beginning of each chapter. A phenomenal book that does the job of both books is "The Cambridge Companion to Greek Philosophy" by A.A. Long.

To be honest, the context of philosophical development and greek history in general is somewhat removed. Of course we rely on Hesoid for some historical events, but Hesoid's cosmogony links to a relatively insulated practice rather than historical development. But still, ancient greek history is very interesting.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2009 10:11 am
@Lonewolf,
My ancient Greek professor recomended the same book--Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2009 10:18 am
@Lonewolf,
It's definitely a good book. Whats very interesting is that the book not only focuses on the political aspects and wars which are so common in the standard Greek history book, but also on economic and humanities which shaped the development of the Greek world. This is probably common too, but I have yet to read a book as approachable and as evened out.
 
Lonewolf
 
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2009 12:38 pm
@Lonewolf,
Thanks you guys, Theaetetus and Videcorspoon! That was great help.

I'm definitely going to check out the books recommended.

"To be honest, the context of philosophical development and greek history in general is somewhat removed."

My course materials deals exactly with a differing perspective; that the rise of Greek thought (Greek philosophy), the separation of mythology and philosophy; was a cumulative result of the socio-economic and political factors of the antique Greek society (around the time of Thales onwards).

Best!
 
meditationyoga
 
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 06:52 pm
@Lonewolf,
Yes, actually Herodotus was the first known historian who wrote about this period. This is an excellent book called "The Histories." He talks about the battle of 300 movie and such.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 01:43 pm
@Lonewolf,
Thucydides also talks about the battle of Thermopylae as well, but puts an Athenian spin on the whole battle.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 03:07 pm
@meditationyoga,
meditationyoga;70459 wrote:
Yes, actually Herodotus was the first known historian who wrote about this period. This is an excellent book called "The Histories." He talks about the battle of 300 movie and such.


The book is not actually about history. It is about Herodotus's travels into other lands, and his account of the customs there. It is actually the first anthropology book, rather than a history book. Thucydides is really the first historian.

---------- Post added 07-11-2009 at 05:10 PM ----------

Lonewolf;59645 wrote:
Thanks you guys, Theaetetus and Videcorspoon! That was great help.

I'm definitely going to check out the books recommended.

"To be honest, the context of philosophical development and greek history in general is somewhat removed."

My course materials deals exactly with a differing perspective; that the rise of Greek thought (Greek philosophy), the separation of mythology and philosophy; was a cumulative result of the socio-economic and political factors of the antique Greek society (around the time of Thales onwards).

Best!


That's no doubt true. Most changes in society are due to socio-economic factors, and political factors. What else could they be due to?
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 07:10 am
@Lonewolf,
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 07:33 am
@Lonewolf,
You may wish to read H. Frankfort's pioneering work on the transition represented by the Presokratics, issued by Penguin as Before Philosophy, and reissued in 1977:The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, An Essay on Speculative Thought in the Ancient Near East by Henri Frankfort, H.A. Frankfort, John A. Wilson, Thorkild Jacobsen, and William A. Irwin (University of Chicago Press, 1977).

Also:
F. M. Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1957) may still be available.

The best and most available compendium of Presokratic texts (Greek with translations and discussion) is
G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge, England: University Press. 1957).
 
 

 
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