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Trojan Horses

Trojan Horses: Saving the Classics from Conservatives

Page duBois
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 164
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  • Book Info
    Trojan Horses
    Book Description:

    Publisher Description not available

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-1814-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. x-xii)
  4. 1 Whose Greeks?
    (pp. 1-24)

    I believe that reading ancient Greek art and culture can illuminate and enrich our present circumstances, but also that the Greeks were far stranger, more complicated, and more ambiguous than they might appear in much that circulates about them in the current climate. There is more to know, and much more to say about our relationship to the past of classical antiquity. The interpretation of the Greek and Roman classics, rather than dead, as some alarmists claim, remains as always a contested field, one in which conflicting interpretations clash, one about which I want to have my say here.


  5. 2 Their Greeks
    (pp. 25-56)

    In this chapter, I offer some case studies of writers whose works rely on what I will argue is a narrow, reductive view of ancient Greek culture. Some of these authors, like William Bennett, rely on a cartoon version of ancient Greece to authorize their platform for contemporary America. They present a simplistic, ahistorical view of human nature, and find it everywhere. In their diorama labeled ancient history sit the Greeks, stuffed, looking just like us. Such thinking distorts, freezes, and idolizes ancient culture, representing our own time as simple repetition of a past these contemporary writers invent, often ignoring...

  6. 3 Aliens
    (pp. 57-74)

    InFields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea,discussed in the preceding chapter, Victor Davis Hanson writes of the ideal citizen whose characteristics he traces back to ancient Greece:

    With Hesiod’s world begins the entire notion of agrarianism that was soon to become the foundation of the Greek city-state, and later to be enshrined in the West as the exemplar of a democratic society: a culture of small, independent yeomen on the land, who make their own laws, fight their own battles, and create a community of tough like-minded individuals.¹⁴

    His description of life on a raisin farm in the...

  7. 4 Sex
    (pp. 75-96)

    We have seen what “their Greeks” look like. I would argue for Sappho as a different beginning point for understanding the disparate and abundant histories of ancient Greek societies. And I want to look here at some examples of ancient Greek sex, politics, and religion, to locate signs of a greater density and ambiguity in ancient culture, to find the unfamiliar and the strange, those Greeks like the Asian and nomadic Herodotus, the wandering sophists, and poets like Sappho, often left out of work by the contemporary writers I’ve discussed.

    Even in contemporary, allegedly secular, multicultural American society, we see...

  8. 5 Democracy
    (pp. 97-112)

    The contemporary right wing often assimilates ancient democracy to our own system of government, and part of the claim that we must persist in our commitment to the exclusive study ofWesterncivilization and its writings rests on the claim of continuity and identity between the present and that ancient Greek past. It is important to scrutinize this claim, to look carefully at the very specific form ancient Greek democracy took, so that we might analyze not only the continuities we share with it, but also some of the differences. These differences underscore the unfamiliar beginnings of the institution of...

  9. 6 Gods
    (pp. 113-138)

    The world of the ancient Greeks was full of gods. This is an unfamiliar notion in a monotheistic world, one dominated by the idea of “God the Father.” Americans are accustomed to seeing the account of the evolution of religion in the West as progress from paganism and polytheism to monotheism, its one god a patriarch triumphing over superstition. There follows an often sloppy reliance on the so-called Judeo-Christian tradition, a phrase that obscures great differences, conflict, and the sometimes genocidal domination for many centuries of a Christian majority over a Jewish minority. The appeal in contemporary politics to a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 139-142)
  11. More Reading
    (pp. 143-146)
  12. Index
    (pp. 147-150)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 151-152)