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The Shadow of the Parthenon

The Shadow of the Parthenon: Studies in Ancient History and Literature

Copyright Date: 1972
Edition: 1
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Shadow of the Parthenon
    Book Description:

    A lively combination of scholarship and unorthodoxy makes these studies in ancient history and literature unusually rewarding. Few of the objects of conventional admiration gain much support from Peter Green (Pericles and the "democracy" of fifth-century Athens are treated to a very cool scrutiny) but he has a warm regard for the real virtues of antiquity and for those who spoke with "an individual voice."

    The studies cover both history and literature, Greece and Rome. They range from the real nature of Athenian society to poets as diverse as Sappho and Juvenal, and all of them, without laboring any parallels, make the ancient world immediately relevant to our own. (There is, for example, a very perceptive essay on how classical history often becomes a vehicle for the historian's own political beliefs and fantasies of power.)

    The student of classical history will find plenty in this book to enrich his own studies. The general reader will enjoy the vision of a classical world which differs radically from what he probably expects.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93471-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-10)
  4. The Shadow of the Parthenon
    (pp. 11-46)

    One gusty March afternoon, a few years ago, I found myself trudging up the approaches to the Acropolis in the company of a well-known British novelist whose habits were more convivial (to say the least of it) than one could ever have guessed from his published work. After an excellent and discursive lunch in the old quarter known as the Plaka, I asked him what he would like to do next. ‘See the bloody Parthenon, I suppose’, he said. His voice was an interesting blend of helplessness and suppressed resentment. So we plodded our way to the summit of that...

    (pp. 47-93)

    It is now nearly sixty years since J. B. Bury published his one-volumeHistory of Greece. The decades which followed have seen profound modifications, of more than one kind, to the picture which Bury drew. To begin with, the sheer bulk of new evidence has meant that prehistoric Greece, in particular, is now better known to us than a scholar such as Grote could ever have dared to hope. When Bury wrote, Schliemann had only recently excavated Mycenae, and Sir Arthur Evans had not yet unearthed the fabulous Palace of Cnossos. No one had so much as heard of Linear...

  6. Athens and Jerusalem
    (pp. 94-125)

    The art of history, as Professor M. I. Finley reminded us some years ago, is neither a natural nor an instinctive function of the human mind; but when we turn to the philosophy of history—that conveniently elastic term—it is quite another matter. Though man may require a certain rational impetus in order to study his past, he has never lacked the urge to excogitate ingeniousa prioriexplanations for the world he has inherited. These explanations take many and wonderful forms, ranging from elaborate cosmologies to notions of challenge-and-response, from cyclic myths to economic statistics. But one feature...

  7. Myths and Symbols
    (pp. 126-151)

    ‘Myth,’ Thomas Mann once declared, ‘is the foundation of life, it is the timeless pattern, the religious formula to which life shapes itself.’ That statement alone is enough to show how radical a change our general attitude to myths and mythology has undergone during the past half century or so. To rational High Churchmen of the Age of Enlightenment or progressive anthropologists in the late Victorian era, such a statement would have been blankly incomprehensible. Even to imaginative inquirers such as Frazer, Lawson or Jane Harrison, the scholarlyde haut en basapproach (here as in the field of radical...

  8. The Individual Voice: ARCHILOCHUS AND SAPPHO
    (pp. 152-192)

    After Homer, darkness. Then, towards the close of the eighth century, a glimmer of light, a faint and fragmentary dawn. But as the sun climbs, illuminating first Boeotia and then Paros, we see that something very odd has been going on during the night. Gone, as though they had never existed, are the Homeric virtues of honour and hospitality, the glorification of battle, the chivalrous aristocratic ideals, and, above all, the bardic convention of anonymity. In their place we find identifiable and all-too-articulate individuals: a surly, puritanical, aphoristic peasant-farmer, an illegitimate colonist with a talent for foul-mouthed invective and a...

  9. The First Sicilian Slave War
    (pp. 193-215)

    The Roman slave revolts of the second and early first centuries B C were unique. Nothing like them had ever happened before, and after the final suppression of Spartacus in 70 B C no comparable rising ever took place again. The first Sicilian outbreak is little studied by historians; yet it contains some unique features, and its leader, Eunus, was in his own way as remarkable a man as Spartacus. We are also fortunate in that our literary tradition does not here, as so often, stem wholly from pro-Roman sources. Our main evidence for the revolt and its background is...

  10. Juvenal and his Age
    (pp. 216-267)

    In the whole of Roman literature there is no more personally elusive character than Juvenal. His work—in marked contrast to the satires of his predecessors Horace and Persius—contains almost no autobiographical material. Of his contemporaries, only the epigrammatist Martial ever refers to him. It has been argued that he was a pupil of Quintilian’s, and that theInstitutio Oratoriaalludes to him among ‘contemporaries of promise’, but this is pure speculation. After his death—it is unlikely that he survived for long after the accession of Antoninus Pius in A D 138—theSatiresdrop out of sight...

    (pp. 268-276)
  12. Index
    (pp. 277-291)