Week 11

"The 'frontier mentality' articulated in The Odyssey is related to archaeologically identifiable manifestations of Greek colonization, reflecting the outlook of 'proto-colonial' Greek traders, who needed to amass money and influence before they could launch an expedition aimed at creating a completely new settlement. Many Greeks from the eighth to sixth centuries were restless and on the move. Intrepid individuals left established communities in mainland Greece and on the western coast of Asia to form settlements far away, thus creating the distinctive map of ancient Greece." ―Edith Hall, Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind


Edith Hall,

Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind,

W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (June 16, 2014),

ISBN 0393239985

This is the best one-volume introduction to the Ancient Greeks that I have ever read. It is in a beautiful hardcover edition that is very reasonable in cost. Get it. You will be happy to have it all year.

“Penetrating…Ms. Hall is an engaging writer and an acute scholar.”―James Romm, Wall Street Journal

“[Hall’s] book is a hearty, delightful voyage through 2,000 years of Greek history, written with wit and verve and deep insight.” ―Mark Gamin, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“In Edith Hall’s new and groundbreaking study of ancient Greek culture, society, and mentality over a millennium and more, from Agamemnon to Constantine, she acutely identifies and brilliantly explains why we simply cannot do without the ancient Greeks.” ―Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge, and the author of The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others


Josiah Ober,

The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece,

Princeton University Press; 1st Edition edition (May 4, 2015),

ISBN 069114091X

The second great book we have for our winter quarter is from Josiah Ober at Stanford University. Professor Ober has just lectured at the Institute in December of 2019, and we hope he can return. This study of classical Greece with special emphasis on Athens is our best introduction to that magnificent world of Pericles and Sophocles. The beautiful hardcover edition (with Kindle available) is still selling on Amazon.

"This challenging book is like no other history of the ancient world. . . . [Ober] produces some engaging and striking analyses of familiar historical episodes." ―American Historical Review

"A fresh and vigorous account about the roots of democracy." ―Brian A. Pavlac, Canadian Journal of History

"In the late fourth century BC, Aristotle and his students collected the constitutions of more than 150…city-states. The scholar who would today follow in Aristotle's footsteps has to deal with a far more formidable mass of data. Few of today's scholars control more of this data, or write about it more insightfully, than Josiah Ober. [T]hose willing to put in the effort will learn much from the deep meditations of an expert historian and political philosopher." ―James Romm, Wall Street Journal

"An attractive, informative, and timely picture of Greece from Homer to Aristotle. . . . It's an absorbing story full of excitement, drama and hope." ―Evaggelos Valiantos, Huffington Post

"Intriguing. . . . [Y]ou can think of this book as how an economist might think about ancient Greece." ―Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"One of HistoryBuff.com’s 10 Can’t-Miss History Books of 2015"

"[T]his could turn out to be Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for classical Greece." ―Jonathan Sturgeon, Flavorwire

"One of Flavorwire’s 10 Must-Read Academic Books for 2015"

"Remarkable. . . . deserves a very broad readership in political science across subfields. It brings Greek antiquity into the 21st century." ―S. Sara Monoson, Perspectives on Politics

"In this exemplary book, Josiah Ober, one of the foremost international authorities on ancient Greek political, economic, and intellectual history, persuasively explains why and how ancient Greek communities and individuals managed―and sometimes failed―to flourish culturally and materially." ―Paul Cartledge, author of The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece

"This is a groundbreaking book on the ancient world. Displaying the narrative skill of a master historian, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece is must reading." ―Barry Strauss, author of The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Greatest Assassination