The Birth of Classical Europe is therefore both an authoritative history, and also a fascinating attempt to show how our own changing values and interests have shaped our feelings about an era which is by some measures very remote but by others startlingly close. The birth of classical europe : a history from troy to augustine.
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The western world has long been fascinated by classical Greek and Roman cultures, whose ideas and achievements All downloaded files are checked 'The Penguin History of Europe series And the Desert Blooms. Scottish Gem Stones.
Very Cranberry. Spanish Business Companion Handbook. This is the richest irony; as Price and Thonemann recount elsewhere, Alexander's sixth-century forbearer needed a legal dispensation to compete in the Pan-Hellenic Olympics since no one was convinced the tribal and king-ruled Macedonians were Greek, at least in the way of the city-states. In fact, it may be in the focus on the vagaries and self-flatteries of identity that "The Birth of Classical Europe" come closest to the tone and texture of old-school popular history.
One imagines the young man, otherwise schooled in engineering or poetry, reading Edward Gibbon before embarking on a career in colonial administration -- or Will Durant before joining the State Department. His female companions were surely honing skills more crucial and less remunerative -- French, say, or typing. There is, in other words, a certain expansionist philosophy inherent in any attempt to capture 2, years in pages: that the world is both contingent and, for the properly acculturated, coherent.
Like the best of their predecessors, Price and Thonemann aren't propagandists or court chroniclers, but actually gracefully incorporate recent academic threads and theories -- even Martin Bernal's oft-caricatured "Black Athena" hypothesis is given a fair hearing. Their genre, however, remains decidedly touristic and so, arguably, static: like the Durants' volume "The Story of Civilization," say, or Churchill's "History of the English-Speaking Peoples" which Labour rival Clement Attlee piquantly renamed "Things in History that Interest Me" , the imagined audience is not the budding scholar primed ultimately to make her own advances in the field, but the cosmopolitan and curious, moving up from the "Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Which, of course, is where our own history seems to contravene on Penguin's good intentions. Launched in January , Wikipedia finally emblematizes nothing less than a revolution for the armchair historian, the cultural dilettante or polymath of all kinds.
In or -- the year Penguin published its previous "History of Europe," a one-volume opus by J. Roberts -- the layman prodded for whatever reason to vague interest in the Minoans the mysterious pre-Greek inhabitants of Crete could have moved from the "Britannica" or "Encarta" entry to a treatment like Price and Thonemann's 22 pages on the topic and come away sated. Today, via hyperlink and ubiquitous bandwidth, he could spend as many hours as his determination or day job allows reviewing hyper-detailed blueprints of every Minoan palace, considering the purported matriarchal or even proto-feminist subtext of Minoan bull-jumping, "reading" every extant inscription of Linear A, the undeciphered Minoan script.
This is certainly no replacement for actual scholarship -- actual archaeology and philology and dendrology -- but it also represents more than a difference in scale, along some trajectory a real classicist might say started with the Library of Alexandria.
Indeed, the library model -- the encyclopedia model -- has, almost imperceptibly, inverted itself even as we continue using its metaphors: For the first time in the popular dispersal of knowledge, it is easier for the casual explorer to reach the raw details, the material evidence, the internecine theoretical squabbles and, yes, even the elaborately manicured fabrications, than any finite, authorized and authoritative account. In such a world, the obvious defense of a volume like "The Birth of Classical Europe" is the one that "Britannica," for one, spent years plaintively raising against Wikipedia: namely, that average folk need, above all, not information but proportion -- to know, as was famously argued, that Tony Blair deserves more words than Harry Potter, even if both accounts are exponentially more detailed and current than anything easily available in print.
Such an impulse far precedes the Internet.
In earlier centuries, popular grand history could rather openly be predicated on imparting a certain chronological and moral elegance to its subject matter -- all of Western civilization leading, for the Whig historians, to the British parliamentary settlement; for the Marxists, to bourgeois hegemony, then world revolution. The reason Price and Thonemann aren't saved by appeals to proportion or curation is, ironically but unsurprisingly, the same thing that makes their take on an old form so laudably modern: they're too sophisticated -- or too respectful of their audience's sophistication -- to attempt the feel-good sophistry long synonymous with "popular.
But "The Birth of Classical Europe" isn't a formless cloud of facts and dates, without narrative or argument. Neither is Wikipedia, incidentally. At its core is indeed a "meta-narrative" as definitive and, in its way, as political as any of the discredited dogmas. Again and again, this Penguin history foregrounds the way their pasts, real and imagined, loomed in the individual psyches and collective consciousness of people who never knew themselves as "ancients.
The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine
One might be tempted to conclude that Troy, across the Aegean on Asia Minor, became in the collective imaginary the ur-instance of that great European preoccupation: Occident vs. Orient, the West against the rest. Many third-century Romans, locked in wars with Persia as interminable as America's against "terror," loudly said just that. But they'd have quickly run up against the complications of history as argument--Rome's millennium-old founding myth had the city settled by the Trojan , not the Achaean Greek , survivors of the war.
They were, in other words, as confused about themselves as we are about them -- perhaps the grandest historical lesson of all. Buy Now, Pay Later.