Cover image for The story of Greece and Rome / Tony Spawforth.
Title:
The story of Greece and Rome / Tony Spawforth.
ISBN:
9780300217117
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
x, 375 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Contents:
Prologue. The Wild and the Tamed: Ancient Views of Civilization -- Part I. The Greeks -- Part II. The Romans
Abstract:
The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the "civilized" Greek and Roman empires resisting the barbarians at the gate are far from accurate. Tony Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East. From the rise of the Mycenaean world of the sixteenth century B.C., Spawforth traces a path through the ancient Aegean to the zenith of the Hellenic state and the rise of the Roman empire, the coming of Christianity and the consequences of the first caliphate. Deeply informed, provocative, and entirely fresh, this is the first and only accessible work that tells the extraordinary story of the classical world in its entirety.
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Summary

Summary

The extraordinary story of the intermingled civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, spanning more than six millennia from the late Bronze Age to the seventh century

The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the "civilized" Greek and Roman empires resisting the barbarians at the gate are far from accurate. Tony Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East.

From the rise of the Mycenaean world of the sixteenth century B.C., Spawforth traces a path through the ancient Aegean to the zenith of the Hellenic state and the rise of the Roman empire, the coming of Christianity and the consequences of the first caliphate. Deeply informed, provocative, and entirely fresh, this is the first and only accessible work that tells the extraordinary story of the classical world in its entirety.


Author Notes

Tony Spawforth is emeritus professor of ancient history at Newcastle University, presenter of eight archaeological documentaries in the "Ancient Voices" series on BBC2, and author of numerous books, including Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution. He lives in Brighton, UK.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This excellent survey by British historian Spawforth (Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution) spans the rise and fall of the Greco-Roman world, from the Aegean city-states that became Greece to the final days of the Roman Empire in the fifth century CE, which set the stage for current Western civilization. Through an interdisciplinary approach that includes history, anthropology, and literature, Spawforth traces the growth of Rome from a small part of the Italian peninsula to the multiethnic "Roman Peace" that extended from Hadrian's Wall in the British Isles to what is now modern Turkey, with much cultural and religious detail along the way. For example, he makes clear how receptive both Greek and Roman civilizations were to foreign (i.e., "barbarian") influences from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Carthage. In addition to straightforward historical narrative, Spawforth makes quite unexpected but relevant connections; in the first pages of a chapter about early Christianity, he refers-among other things-to a colleague's obscure literary theory, Jonathan Haidt's 21st-century research on moral psychology, a 1912 Japanese passage explaining emperor worship, and Catholics being blamed for the 1666 Great Fire of London. This conversational yet erudite history is a treat. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In this ambitious, entertaining, and fleet-footed survey, Spawforth (ancient history, Newcastle Univ., UK; The Complete Greek Temples) recounts the developments of what is now called classical civilization. The author's objective is to introduce these societies to novice readers of the period, beginning with Neolithic Greece (7,000 BCE) and concluding some 8,000 years later with the rise of the first Islamic Caliphate. The work traverses this substantial period mostly successfully, visiting key figures, developments, and major archaeological discoveries while only occasionally being too oblique in references. Given this breadth, a few errors invariably creep in (e.g., referring to Pompey as younger than Julius Caesar), and parts of the narrative frenetically scamper across both centuries and regions, in litanies of rulers, wars, and reversals, particularly in the concluding chapter. Lastly, the abundant personal anecdotes about Spawforth's own academic development and archaeological experiences frequently consume too much time but do enhance the author's authority. VERDICT While the pacing might overwhelm at times, this is overall a worthy and enjoyable introduction for readers seeking a general sense of the interwoven world of ancient Greece and Rome.-Evan M. ­Anderson, Kirkendall P.L., Ankeny, IA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

List of Maps and Platesp. vii
Acknowledgementsp. ix
Prologue: The Wild and the Tamed: Ancient Views of Civilizationp. 1
Part I The Greeks
1 The Dawn of Greek Civilizationp. 15
2 The Rise of the Hellenesp. 32
3 New Things: The First Greek City-Statesp. 45
4 As Rich as Croesus: Early Greeks and the Eastp. 60
5 Great Greeks: The Greek Settlement of the Westp. 75
6 Meet the (Western) Neighboursp. 90
7 'Lord of All Men? The Threat of Persiap. 105
8 The Same but Different: Athens and Spartap. 119
9 'Unprecedented Suffering? The Peloponnesian Warp. 134
10 Examined Lives and Golden Mouthsp. 148
11 'A Brilliant Flash of Lightning': Alexander of Macedonp. 163
12 Game of Thrones, or the World after Alexanderp. 177
Part II The Romans
13 'Senatus Populusque Romanus'p. 195
14 Boots on the Ground: Building the Roman Empirep. 210
15 Hail Caesar! The Advent of the Autocratsp. 225
16 'Fierce Rome, Captive'? The Lure of Greecep. 241
17 What Did the Romans Do for Their Empire?p. 257
18 'Barbarians' at the Gatep. 271
19 The 'Jesus Movement'p. 286
20 United We Stand: The Final Centuryp. 301
21 Divided We Fall: A Tale of Two Empiresp. 316
Epiloguep. 330
Timelinep. 334
Notesp. 340
Further Readingp. 354
Indexp. 356