It's All Greek to Me

Charlotte Higgins

It's All Greek to Me

Consider the way we think: about right and wrong, about the nature of beauty, goodness, and truth. What, in the end, it is to be a human being amid the immensity of the universe. What it is to be mortal, to live for a brief while, and die. All this, and more, we have learned from the ancient Greeks. They moulded the basic disciplines and genres in which we still organise thought: from poetry to drama, from politics to philosophy, from history to medicine, and even ethnography. Packed with useful cribs - history timelines; a who's who; a guide to the Greek gods; a map for those who struggle to know their Lemnos from their Lesbos - It's All Greek to Me is a bluffer's guide in one sense, a primer that will give you a helping hand around Greek democracy, or the Persian Wars, or the Parthenon. But it is much more than that; it is a book of enthusiasms and pleasures, which aims to bring ancient Greece back into the mainstream of life - where it belongs. 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
It's All Greek to Me

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Reference
Format Hardback
Pages 304
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication October 2008
ISBN 978-1906021436
Publisher Short Books
 

Consider the way we think: about right and wrong, about the nature of beauty, goodness, and truth. What, in the end, it is to be a human being amid the immensity of the universe. What it is to be mortal, to live for a brief while, and die. All this, and more, we have learned from the ancient Greeks. They moulded the basic disciplines and genres in which we still organise thought: from poetry to drama, from politics to philosophy, from history to medicine, and even ethnography. Packed with useful cribs - history timelines; a who's who; a guide to the Greek gods; a map for those who struggle to know their Lemnos from their Lesbos - It's All Greek to Me is a bluffer's guide in one sense, a primer that will give you a helping hand around Greek democracy, or the Persian Wars, or the Parthenon. But it is much more than that; it is a book of enthusiasms and pleasures, which aims to bring ancient Greece back into the mainstream of life - where it belongs.

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Tom Payne

Higgins delivers digestible précis and peppy plot summaries. She even makes the causes of the Peloponnesian War seem comprehensible. It's easy to sympathise with her hobby-horses... although she does return to certain scenes or episodes too reliably. Even so, she has some appendices that would make fine stocking-fillers in their own right, such as a who's who, a selective list of key quotations (helpful for the slacker undergraduate) and the stories behind some expressions from ancient Greece that are still in our currency.

17/10/2008

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The Sunday Times

Ed King

At a time when the classics are slipping off syllabuses, Higgins hopes to gain some perspective on our society by re-examining the cultural legacy of ancient Greece. The result is a highly entertaining bluffer's guide to Greek culture, philosophy and politics, complete with maps, timelines and chapter-by-chapter synopses of The Odyssey and The Iliad... At the heart of this book is Higgins's passion for Homer, the “fountainhead of European thought”, whose talent for drama, action and subtle characterisation has a strong influence on our cinema and literature to this day.

02/11/2008

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The Guardian

Judith Rice

The defensive tone of [Higgins’ book] as [it protests] that hey, it's really not boring to be interested in the Greeks, seems out of place... You've got a good story to tell, I felt like grumbling - just tell it like it is. At [its] best, [Higgins does] just that... With a marvellous display of knowledgeable enthusiasm and a keen talent for compression, she shows us precisely why the Greeks matter... For a clever synopsis of the thinking of the Greeks and of why that matters now, go to Higgins.

18/10/2008

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