Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 16, 2013

Ancient Greek culture and Why Classics Matters (Simon Goldhill)

IMG_055316 more days to go.  Keeping myself (pre)occupied with everything Greek (ancient).

It’s been very hot today and even sitting under a parasol and piling an icepack on the cast proved no relief.  I’ve had to retreat inside.

As part of the course that I have downloaded, I have listened to a couple of presentations, one on Homer’s World (Dark Age Greece) and the other on Athens in the 6th Century BC.  This is beginning to focus away from the myths to historical sources and evidence, the vases, the archeological sites, the writings left by Herodotus etc.

A while ago I bought ‘Love, Sex & Tragedy – Why Classics Matters, by Simon Goldhill, but so far have not had the time to read it.  It was first published in 2004 and had excellent reviews all round  Now is the time!  Goldhill is Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge.  In is introduction he writes:

Every chapter of this book is dedicated to showing why learning about classics makes a fundamental different to understanding the major concerns of modern Western life – a fundamental different to our self-understanding……. How does the past form our identity today?…’ (p.3).

Although Rome came to dominate and took over and became the dominant force in the Mediterranean, even to the Romans Greek culture seemed superior to Roman and the Romans looked back to Greece.

Having read Chapter 1 on where our image of the perfect body comes from and how our modern preoccupation with the gym finds its real origin in ancient Greece and Chapter 2 ‘A Man’s Thing?‘ on the differences in what was acceptable in ancient Greece and what is considered obscene / pornographic now I think I will greatly enjoy this book as it pulls together the links between ancient Greece and our current conceptions of ourselves.


  1. Interesting.

  2. […] Ancient Greek culture and Why Classics Matters (Simon Goldhill) ( […]

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