Ancient Greek Civilization

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good generic overview A good generic overview for 24 lectures with a few going into some depth. I would have liked to have seen more pictures, illustrations, and more articulated maps considering the amount of time Dr. McInnerny stands lecturing in front of the camera. He makes an agreeable presentation of the material and for anyone looking for a basic study of the subject, this will do nicely.
Date published: 2020-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have enjoyed the class immensely. Very well done. I am looking into my next class
Date published: 2020-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Introduction This is probably the best starting point for the very good array of classical (Greek and Roman) courses that The Great Courses offers. It’s an old course, calling itself part of The Great Courses on Tape (yes, cassette tape!) offerings, but it’s still a good representation of the subject material. The course follows a chronological path from pre-historic civilizations including most notably the Minoan civilization with a digression into archeology, through the period of the Trojan War, and into the classical Greek history including the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian Wars. It ends with a postscript on the conquest by Philip of Macedon and the conquests of Alexander the Great. Dr. McInerney is a very smooth lecturer, easy to follow. I think he hits the right level for an intelligent but non-specialized audience. I listened to the audio version. I don’t think that visual aids would have added anything significant.
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well-Done Review; More Casual than Academic This is a well-done, worthwhile course for any seeking an intro to ancient Greek civilization presented in a listener-friendly, casual style. The key points are all covered, as can be seen from the lecture titles. Professor McInerney is knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and makes a mostly successful effort to portray the negatives of the culture (slaves, women's non-rights, identity politics) along with the much better known positives which have made it into our own Western cultural iconography and myth-making. And I appreciate his including areas such as theater, religion, and sex and gender along with the more typical 'big man / big event' history of politics and wars. My only significant disappointment was the relaxed story-telling approach, as opposed to my preferred clearly-sourced, tightly argued, highly focused academic history. If that doesn't bother you, you will likely enjoy the course. Less importantly, I wish there were more photos, diagrams, and maps in the video. And the Course Guidebook is very thin. But, after all, this is one of the first of the Great Courses, so we can forgive them. Cheers and enjoy.
Date published: 2019-11-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ancient Greek Civilization I reasonably enjoyed the series, up to lecture 16. In that lecture, Dr. McInerney labeled the ancient practice of animal sacrifice as murder. I was extrememly offened by his statements, not that I support animal or human sacrifice, but that I resent having a so-called scientist try to cram his social or moral opinions down my throat. I want to learn the essential facts about the subject I study; I dont want politial propaganda. When I heard Dr. McInerney's statements, I wondered how many other so-called facts that he imparted were, in fact, nothing more than his personal social or political opinions. Frankly, I am extremely disappointed in The Great Courses for allowing this sort of behavior on its platform.
Date published: 2019-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thorough look at the ancient Greeks I really enjoyed this course, and found it quite informative.
Date published: 2019-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ancient Greek Civilization Finding this audio just excellent! Love the professor in and learning so much. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2019-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Course Just started this course, so far absolutely wonderful. Knowledgeable professor who is enthusiastic about the period. Highly recommended. Great start to a classical education.
Date published: 2019-05-27
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Greece and the Western World
1: Greece and the Western World

Why do we feel such a strong affinity with the ancient Greeks? When and how did the West begin to venerate the Golden Age of Athens under Pericles?

31 min
Minoan Crete
2: Minoan Crete

Bronze Age Crete has been dubbed a "palatial society" whose magnificent buildings housed a complex, hierarchical world. But this world remains shrouded in mystery.

30 min
Schliemann and Mycenae
3: Schliemann and Mycenae

Inspired by Homer's poems, Heinrich Schliemann uncovered the elite warrior culture of Mycenae, "rich in gold." The relationship of this culture to that of Bronze Age Crete has long been a subject of intense scholarly debate.

29 min
The Long Twilight
4: The Long Twilight

Civilization in Bronze Age Crete and Mycenae declined rapidly after 1200 B.C.E. Archaeologists have long argued about the cause: Was it natural disaster, military invasion, internal strife, or some combination of these?

30 min
The Age of Heroes
5: The Age of Heroes

During the ancient "Dark Ages," the predominant unit of Hellenic society was a tribal or clan-based group known as the oikos (household). Poets such as Homer created an imaginative world that provided society a heroic, aristocratic ethos....

31 min
From Sicily to Syria-The Growth of Trade and Colonization
6: From Sicily to Syria-The Growth of Trade and Colonization

Greek colonies were established as near as the Mediterranean and as far away as Ukraine. While the causes of Hellenic colonization are complex, its results were important. Trade filled Greek coffers. Intellectual imports, such as written language and artistic motifs, arrived as well.

30 min
Delphi and Olympia
7: Delphi and Olympia

The preclassical institutions of the Olympic Games and the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi were crucial elements in fixing Greek identity.

29 min
The Spartans
8: The Spartans

Conflict, tension, and civil unrest were endemic in most Greek city-states from the 8th century B.C.E. onward. Sparta, however, formed a notable exception. How did it avoid civic violence?

30 min
Revolution
9: Revolution

Solon, the "father of the Athenian constitution," was elected to forestall factional strife. He attempted to formalize rights and privileges based on wealth rather than birth, and did away with debt-bondage. He laid the groundwork for the rule of law in Athens.

29 min
Tyranny
10: Tyranny

Contrary to our modern definition of tyranny, the Greek word originally meant the seizing of power by an ambitious man. The tyranny of Peisistratus and his sons kept the peace in Athens and nurtured its prosperity for more than 50 years.

29 min
The Origins of Democracy
11: The Origins of Democracy

Cleisthenes recognized that the common Athenian was a more potent political force than any aristocrat, and used this knowledge to take control of an Athens newly freed from the Peisistratid tyranny. Under his rule, the Athenians established the elements of democratic governance.

31 min
Beyond Greece-The Persian Empire
12: Beyond Greece-The Persian Empire

The epic confrontation between Greece and Persia changed Greek history forever. In this lecture, the Persian Empire is examined and, as far as possible, without the bias of Greek sources. The portrait that emerges is of a complex and sophisticated society.

32 min
The Persian Wars
13: The Persian Wars

The Persian Wars, 490-479 B.C.E, were probably of more consequence to the Greeks than to the Persians. From these confrontations the Greeks articulated their idea of eleutheria (freedom), which is still embedded in Western culture. What was freedom as the Greeks conceived it?...

31 min
The Athenian Empire
14: The Athenian Empire

An alliance of Aegean city-states, the Delian League was formed in the aftermath of the Persian Wars while Athens enjoyed great prestige. The Golden Age of Pericles was the age of imperial Athens, during which time the Parthenon, Propylaia, and Erectheion were completed.

31 min
The Art of Democracy
15: The Art of Democracy

Athenian democracy was a remarkable achievement. Although participation was restricted to adult male citizens, the assembly, council, courts, and magistracies guaranteed a broad basis for sharing power.

30 min
Sacrifice and Greek Religion
16: Sacrifice and Greek Religion

Greek spiritual life rested on a fluid cosmology in which faith was personal while religion was a public affair that revolved around a communal sacrifice. These sacrifices were organized as festivals, leading us to ask: Which ranked first in importance, performance or belief?

31 min
Theater and the Competition of Art
17: Theater and the Competition of Art

Familiar as Greek plays seem to us, their roots lie in the more foreign realm of ancient religious festivals. The power of drama was seen as connecting the community with the divine. Therefore, the straightforward structure of most Greek dramas should not blind us to their powerful emotional role and content.

30 min
Sex and Gender
18: Sex and Gender

Ancient Greek attitudes toward sex and gender differed markedly from our own. Activity and forcefulness characterized the masculine ideal. Women, on the other hand, were thought to need the protection of their family and society.

30 min
The Peloponnesian War, Part I
19: The Peloponnesian War, Part I

The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 B.C.E., was a contest between Athens and Sparta, the two most powerful states in Greece. Thucydides, an Athenian general, wrote his observations and attempted to analyze scientifically the causes of the war. His account remains important not only because it is remarkably detailed, but because Thucydides saw the gap between societal ideals and the realities of power.

30 min
The Peloponnesian War, Part II
20: The Peloponnesian War, Part II

Thucydides wanted to teach his audience fundamental truths about history rather than entertain people with war stories. To him, human events followed a pattern. He writes with great restraint but stunning depth and power.

30 min
Socrates on Trial
21: Socrates on Trial

The philosophic traditions of Ionian inquiry and sophistic pedagogy met in the career of Socrates, who concentrated almost exclusively on moral philosophy. Plato immortalized his trial and execution in the "Apology," "Crito," and "Phaedo." Was Socrates a martyr, as Plato and many others have held, or is there another explanation for his fate?

31 min
Slavery and Freedom
22: Slavery and Freedom

Slaves were ubiquitous in classical Greece; even the poorest citizens owned slaves because the amount of time needed for participation in democratic government meant that the eleutheros, the free man, needed to have others do his domestic tasks. How did the Greeks reconcile the ideal of democracy with the practice of slavery?...

30 min
Athens in Decline?
23: Athens in Decline?

The history of Greece during the 4th century B.C.E. is divided between the early decades when important developments were made in many areas, and the later decades, during which Greece came under the domination of the Macedonian kings. Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum changed philosophy forever, and writers such as Xenophon and Menander produced enduring prose and drama.

31 min
Philip, Alexander, and Greece in Transition
24: Philip, Alexander, and Greece in Transition

Once Philip II had conquered Greece, he used the dream of a Panhellenic crusade to unite the Greeks and conquer the Persian Empire. Philip's son, Alexander the Great, went a long way toward realizing this dream when he led Greco-Macedonian armies in the conquest of Persia and extended the Greek "empire of influence" across Asia as far as the northern marches of the Indian subcontinent.

31 min
Jeremy McInerney

All cultures are unique, I would argue. Japanese culture, Chinese culture, Indian culture-we even know now that cultures that were once dismissed as 'primitive' in fact have extremely rich cultural lives.

ALMA MATER

University of California, Berkeley

INSTITUTION

University of Pennsylvania

About Jeremy McInerney

Dr. Jeremy McInerney is Davidson Kennedy Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. McInerney earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He was the Wheeler Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and has excavated in Israel, at Corinth, and on Crete. He serves on the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. Professor McInerney's research interests include topography, epigraphy and historiography. He is the author of The Folds of Parnassos: Land and Ethnicity in Ancient Pholis, and has published articles in a variety of academic journals including Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, the American Journal of Archaeology, Hesperia, and California Studies in Classical Antiquity. In 1997, he was an invited participant at a colloquium on ethnicity in the ancient world, hosted by the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington.

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