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Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean

Go beyond the political and military stories of ancient Greece and Rome and immerses you in the details of life in Classical antiquity.
Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 72.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Unique Approach The unique value of this course is that it takes an integrated view of Greco-Roman history and culture. Most courses consider the two cultures separately and then leave it to the student to draw any conclusions regarding their similarities. This course focuses on how they interact (hence, “An Integrated History” in the title). As a corollary, Carthage, Persia, and Christianity are largely peripheral issues and not addressed in any detail. After six lectures outlining the chronology of the Greece-Rome relationship, the course generally takes a topical approach. For each topic, Dr. Garland explains how the cultures influenced each other and why they differed where they did. Topics include language, religion, technology, arts, and politics. Dr. Garland is an average lecturer by The Great Courses (TGC) (which is significantly better than most lecturers outside the TGC stable). He targets the audience well but somehow le lacks that special spark that the great ones have. Perhaps it is his oh-so-proper English accent that lends credibility to the lectures but impedes accessibility. The course guide is average by The Great Courses (TGC) standards. It is in outline format as opposed to paragraph or bullet format. It averages less than four pages per lecture, which is well below TGC standards. There are no embedded graphics although there are 13 useful maps in the appendix. There are also a long timeline, a glossary, many biographical notes, and a bibliography with a short explanation of how each reference is useful. I used the audio version. TGC offers a DVD format but not a video streaming format. I doubt that graphics would have offered much. The course was published in 2008.
Date published: 2023-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must for ancient history buffs The scope of this course and the detail included is absolutely mindboggling. Never before have i seen or heard anyone approach the study of Greece and Rome in this way. I have been a student of Greek and Roman history all my life but never experienced the comparisons in such a manner. His presentation is engrossing and the topics are well chosen to give the listener a true idea of the contrast and similarity of both cultures. The sociological aspects of some of the lectures was totally unique to me such as what did the Greeks think of the Romans and vice versa? Who stole what from whom? What were their feelings about intermarriage? sex? religion etc? I am almost finished all of the lectures and am saddened that it is almost over. Do not miss this truly unique course by a world class lecturer.
Date published: 2023-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I have only started this course and find it most interesting. I cannot wait to watch more.
Date published: 2022-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thorough approach The instructor made the case that the histories of classical Greece and Rome are inseparable. He was knowledgeable about both civilizations. I recommend it highly to those interested in ancient history of the Mediterranean.
Date published: 2022-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great historical survey course. I have read many books and taken several courses about ancient Greek & Roman history. Although I'm not a subject knowledge expert, it's very obvious that professor Garland is very interested as well as very knowledgeable in the subject matter. This was a very interesting and informative course.
Date published: 2022-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent professor! I greatly enjoyed this course. Though one may quibble with various events not being sufficiently discussed, I think the professor does a great job with the overall theme of connecting the Greek and Roman empires. As a novice to the classical period, I feel my appetite whetted to study even more. Thank you, Professor Garland.
Date published: 2022-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative A great presentation; a combination of enthusiasm, erudition and love for the subject matter
Date published: 2022-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation Very informative, details not found in other material
Date published: 2022-03-22
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Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean is an impressive and rare opportunity to understand the two dominant cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world in relation to one another. Over the course of 36 lectures, Professor Garland explores the many ways in which these two very different cultures intersected, coincided, and at times collided.


Robert Garland

Working for the Great Courses enables me to reach people who prize learning for learning's sake. It's they who inspire me to close the gap between past and present, by demonstrating what it meant then, and what it means now, to be human.


Colgate University

Robert Garland is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics, Emeritus, in the Department of the Classics at Colgate University. He has a PhD in Ancient History from University College London. A former Fulbright Scholar, he was also a fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He has written 19 books, including Greek Mythology: Gods and Heroes Brought to Life and Roman Legends Brought to Life. He has also published extensively in academic and popular journals and served as a consultant for educational film companies.

By This Professor

Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds
The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture
Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages
God against the Gods: The History of Monotheism and Polytheism
Who Were the Greeks? Who Were the Romans?

01: Who Were the Greeks? Who Were the Romans?

Examine the historical origins of the Greeks and Romans, which is still an open question among scholars.

36 min
Trade and Travel in the Mediterranean

02: Trade and Travel in the Mediterranean

Trade and travel were widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin from early times onward.

31 min
Democratic or Republican

03: Democratic or Republican

Both Greeks and Romans had democratic tendencies and a predisposition to favor the aristocracy. Community, however, was more broadly defined among Romans, who came to accept the principle of universalism that was alien to the Greeks. Both Greeks and Romans had democratic tendencies and a predisposition to favor the aristocracy.

30 min
Law and Order

04: Law and Order

It was the Greeks of Athens who first established trial by jury and sought to differentiate crime in terms of motive. It was the Romans who established the principle that the law is an organic entity that has to adapt to changing social, economic, and political conditions.

31 min
Less than Fully Human

05: Less than Fully Human

Both the Greeks and Romans denied full human status to those at the bottom of the social ladder.

29 min
Close Encounters, 750–272 BCE

06: Close Encounters, 750–272 BCE

From very early in their history, the Romans were subject to Greek influence, both directly from Greek colonists who had settled in southern Italy and indirectly from the Etruscans, Rome's neighbors to the northwest, who were in contact with Greek traders.

32 min
The Velvet Glove, 272–190 BCE

07: The Velvet Glove, 272–190 BCE

After defeating Carthage in the Second Punic War, Rome turned its attention to the Hellenistic world of the eastern Mediterranean.

31 min
How the Two Polytheisms (Almost) Merged

08: How the Two Polytheisms (Almost) Merged

Greek religion made a deep impact on the Romans, whose animistic beliefs differed from the anthropomorphic pantheon of the Greeks. The Romans assimilated not only Greek gods, but also deities from many of the other cultures with which they came in contact.

34 min
The Iron Fist, 190–146 BCE

09: The Iron Fist, 190–146 BCE

In 190 BCE the Romans abandoned their "velvet glove" policy toward the Greeks and adopted a more hard-line attitude, in which self-interest came increasingly to the fore. Over the next 45 years, almost the whole Greek-speaking world came under Roman domination.

29 min
The Last Hellenistic Dynasts, 146–31 BCE

10: The Last Hellenistic Dynasts, 146–31 BCE

We trace the dying embers of Greek independence down to Octavian's defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BCE, which marked the end of the Hellenistic period. Rome was now the undisputed ruler of the entire Mediterranean world.

30 min
Why the Greeks Lost, Why the Romans Won

11: Why the Greeks Lost, Why the Romans Won

The Greeks lost to the Romans for several reasons: They failed to grasp Rome's determination to bring stability to the region, Rome had a more efficient military machine, and the Greeks' endemic factiousness left them hopelessly divided.

29 min
Philhellenism and Hellenophobia

12: Philhellenism and Hellenophobia

Relations between the Greeks and Romans were highly ambivalent, with elements of both philhellenism and hellenophobia on the part of the Romans. But in general, elite Romans deeply appreciated the achievements of Greek civilization.

31 min
The Two Languages

13: The Two Languages

Greek was already a highly sophisticated vehicle of literary expression at a time when Latin was still in its infancy. By the 2nd century BCE, literary Latin was developing rapidly. Because the Greeks were reluctant to learn Latin, it was primarily the Romans who became bilingual.

32 min
Leisure and Entertainment

14: Leisure and Entertainment

We explore leisure activities among the wealthy, including the gymnasium and symposium for Greeks and the public baths and convivium for Romans.

31 min
Sex and Sexuality

15: Sex and Sexuality

Sex and sexuality did not have the same significance in antiquity as they do in modern Western society. One of the most profound differences is that there was an inherent asymmetry to most sexual relations in terms of age and social status. Note: This lecture deals frankly with sexuality and contains graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences. Parental discretion is advised.

34 min
Death and the Afterlife

16: Death and the Afterlife

Death was a ubiquitous presence among the Greeks and Romans. Though both cultures placed great emphasis on continuing ties between the living and the deceased, the Romans incorporated the dead into their lives to a much greater degree than did the Greeks.

30 min
From Mystery Religion to Ruler Cult

17: From Mystery Religion to Ruler Cult

In the 2nd century BCE, the Romans became less hospitable to foreign gods. For the first time, they banned Greek cult practices, particularly those associated with the god Dionysus. On assuming power, Augustus introduced ruler cult.

32 min
Greek Cities under Roman Rule

18: Greek Cities under Roman Rule

With the exception of Rome, almost all the greatest cities in the Roman Empire were predominantly populated by Greeks. These adapted well to the loss of political freedom. We look at Alexandria, Antioch, Pergamum, and Ephesus, among others.

32 min
Greeks in Rome, Romans in Greece

19: Greeks in Rome, Romans in Greece

We examine how Greeks in their capacity as slaves and subjects, and Romans in their capacity as masters and rulers, coexisted somewhat uneasily.

31 min
The Hellenism of Augustus

20: The Hellenism of Augustus

The Augustan Principate marks the advent of a unified Mediterranean culture under Roman rule. At the same time, it was a world that had become deeply influenced by Greek culture.

30 min
Art, Looting, and Reproductions

21: Art, Looting, and Reproductions

Romans developed a taste for Greek art from the plunder of conquered Greek cities. Thereafter, they began acquiring it by commissioning Greek workshops to produce copies of famous originals. The Roman style of collecting effectively created the notion of a work of art.

31 min
Architecture, Sacred and Secular

22: Architecture, Sacred and Secular

Although possessing deep stylistic similarities, Greek and Roman architecture employed markedly different building methods and materials, was constructed on different scales, and fulfilled different functions. The Romans were the first to use architecture to serve the masses.

32 min
Science and Technology

23: Science and Technology

Greek scientific wizardry is impressive even by the high technological standards of today. While the Romans were less interested in scientific discovery, they were attuned to its practical benefits.

34 min
Disease, Medical Care, and Physicians

24: Disease, Medical Care, and Physicians

The invention of rational medicine is one of the most important discoveries of the Greeks - remarkable for its absence of any appeal to magic, religion, or superstition. Although the Romans were initially suspicious of Greek doctors, they came to rely increasingly on them.

32 min
The Greek Epic and Its Roman Echo

25: The Greek Epic and Its Roman Echo

The epic is an ancient genre that achieved near perfection in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The Roman poet Virgil drew on Homer and other sources to create the Aeneid, the most sustained and successful fusion of Greek and Roman literary form and style.

33 min
Tragedy and Comedy

26: Tragedy and Comedy

The Greeks invented Western drama. Early on, two genres evolved "tragedy and comedy" both of which were appropriated and adapted by the Romans.

32 min
Love Poetry, Satire, History, the Novel

27: Love Poetry, Satire, History, the Novel

The Romans did not slavishly imitate their Greek literary precursors; they either adapted a genre to their taste or else they completely transformed it. We look at how the Romans appropriated and developed love poetry, satire, history, and the novel.

34 min
Greek Influences on Roman Education

28: Greek Influences on Roman Education

Among Greek approaches to education, Sparta's harsh schooling of boys and Athens's tutoring in rhetoric by sophists are the best known.

29 min
Greek Philosophy and Its Roman Advocates

29: Greek Philosophy and Its Roman Advocates

We investigate how Greek philosophy shaped the consciousness of the Roman elite, including generals, politicians, and even emperors. In so doing, it influenced not only how the Romans saw their world, but also how they sought to understand their place within it.

31 min
Hellenomania from Nero to Hadrian

30: Hellenomania from Nero to Hadrian

The obsession with Greek culture was so great on the part of the emperors Nero and Hadrian that it can be described as "hellenomania," an infatuation shared by many that was based on an idealized view of the Greek world and its values.

30 min
Jews, Greeks, and Romans

31: Jews, Greeks, and Romans

The inherent conflict between monotheism and polytheism made the position of the Jews particularly uncertain in the Roman Empire. As relations deteriorated, the Jewish Revolt broke out in 66 CE, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem.

32 min
Christianity's Debt to Greece and Rome

32: Christianity's Debt to Greece and Rome

Greco-Roman resources and its mentality greatly aided the development and spread of early Christianity. Even by making martyrs out of the early Christians, the Romans gave the Jesus movement a visibility that it would not otherwise have achieved.

31 min
The Apotheosis of Athens

33: The Apotheosis of Athens

From the 2nd century BCE, ambitious Romans indulged in lavish building programs in Athens. Shorn of independence, the Athenians continued to involve themselves in politics, although they showed a fatal knack for backing the wrong side.

30 min
The Decline of the West

34: The Decline of the West

There are competing theories to explain Rome's decline and fall, which might be better termed its upheaval and transformation. We investigate the instability that took hold in the half century from 235 CE onward, which ultimately saw the empire divided between East and West.

33 min
The Survival of the East

35: The Survival of the East

The eastern half of the empire survived the dissolution of the West by more than 1,000 years. Greeks and Romans went their separate ways, although, ironically, it was the Byzantine Greeks who saw themselves as the true Romans.

32 min
The Enduring Duo

36: The Enduring Duo

What did the Greeks and Romans get out of their relationship? How has the modern West claimed their legacies, and how has each of us been shaped by their influence? Greece and Rome remain two aspects of our collective cultural personality.

32 min