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The Joy of Ancient History

Great heroes, epic battles, lost civilizations. Journey into the past with 36 lectures curated from our most popular ancient history courses.
Special Collection - The Joy of Ancient History is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 11.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Collection of Lectures! This collection contains 36 interesting and entertaining lectures from a wide cross-section of the TGC's many courses on ancient history. Two principal observations. First, this collection is not intended as (and does not succeed as) an overview of ancient history. To the contrary, the collection is much better understood and appreciated if the student has taken some of the TGC's ancient history courses or otherwise has some prior knowledge in the subject matter. Second, the course is an excellent vehicle through which to sample courses for subsequent purchase, particularly some of the earlier TGC courses which are excellent but which are not included in the Wondrium streaming platform. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2023-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Joy of Ancient History Like all the other courses I have, this is top notch. However, I do have an issue with what seems to be all the downloadable courses. I put them on my phone to watch wherever I am and this works fine except that the small screen limits the titles to something unusable. At the very least, could you put the chapter number of the course as the first character of the title so I can see where I am without having to count down from the top to get to my position in the course.
Date published: 2021-12-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from great lectures, no guidebook The lectures (heard first 27 so far) are good, but I am very disappointed that there is no guidebook. The catalog does present this fact, but should be large-print in-your-face on the first page of the catalog. I may have bought this because I was buying another course over the phone and this was offered as a bargain with a set. I always use the guidebook because if offers active learning. I am not taking these courses just to kill time, I want to learn. It is extremely rare for a course not to have a guidebook.
Date published: 2020-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Real Highlight Reel of Ancient History This makes a great sampler of presenters and subjects-just like a box of assorted chocolates! My purpose in buying this course was for a handy 'highlight reel' of the best and favorite lecturers and stories.
Date published: 2019-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Many different topics and Tons of Fun 5 Stars. Here are some of the best lecturers of the Teaching Company. I enjoyed this so much I will listen to it again.
Date published: 2018-07-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Joy of Ancient History We enjoyed listening to the course. We have DVDs for most of the courses that these lectures came from. That made it easier to picture what the lecturer was covering. It would have been a major improvement to list the lecturers and even the courses each lecture came from. After listening to the first three lectures I searched for the information and made a spreadsheet listing Lecture No., Title, Time, Professor, the Course it was from and the Chapter in the course. It was then much easier to select the next lecture and know a few facts about it. A Video would have been much better than audio, but video was not offered. The answers for the last 3 questions are variable by professor. Selecting one choice doesn't give a complete answer.
Date published: 2017-12-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great way to get a taste for different courses Perhaps TGC have changed the way they market this course in the years since some of the other reviews here were left but I felt it was abundantly clear that a) this course comprised multiple lecturers, and b) that each lecture was plucked from its larger series. And so, no, there is no real coherence between the lectures other than a vaguely chronological positioning within the course and within the context of 'ancient history' (which is obviously a broad field). I have found that listening to one lecture in isolation from its context makes me focus much more on the presenter and, as such, it is a useful way to 'trial' presenters and their skills and determine the most engaging and accessible ones from the lesser. (As an aside it's also highlighted the significant gender imbalance in Great Courses offerings. Hopefully something that will be corrected in coming years). Yes, there is a longish introduction to each one (in TGC introductory voice) but it provides a bit of context before you start listening and I have found it more useful than not in preparing me to hear something out of the blue. I listen while driving so can't read the blurb in preparation. Two suggestions for The Great Courses admin... 1) Can you please consider tailing each lecture with the lecturer's name and the course it came from. That way if I've really enjoyed someone/a topic, I know where to find it for purchase. Or if I particularly don't, I can make a mental note. The info is included at the start but it would only take 15 seconds to paste that little bit on the end in a 'You have been listening to...' kind of thing. 2) Alternatively, can you tweak your 'track' metadata so that lecturer/course info appears in the view screen so I can see and remember talented presenters. Currently it is very generic and repetitive. Thanks [Note: I got this one on super-special and so was willing to take a chance despite the reviews as a 'taster' for under $30 bucks. Not sure how enamoured I would be if I'd paid higher or full price...]
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A mixed bag Perhaps I should have realized it, but this is not a normal series of lectures. Instead it is a group of lectures from various courses, some of which were of interest and others not. Since they are pulled out of context, I found many hard to follow without the background of the earlier lectures. In fact, in many cases, the lecturer makes reference to earlier sections or indicates that certain topics will be addressed in later lectures. if I had realized the format, I suspect I would have passed on this one. It was a good way to recycle material and make the company a little extra profit, but it was not up to their usual standard.
Date published: 2016-01-19
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Overview

For years, The Great Courses has taken you on stirring explorations of our ancient roots. The Joy of Ancient History is an insightful collection of 36 lectures curated from our most popular ancient history courses. Guided by our highly rated professors, hopscotch around the world to experience the fascinating variety that ancient history offers: from great heroes and epic battles to lost civilizations and beyond.

About

J. Rufus Fears

We are no wiser than the Athenians of the 5th century B.C., no wiser than Sophocles for our science of today has shown us the overwhelming power of genes, of DNA.

INSTITUTION

University of Oklahoma

Dr. J. Rufus Fears was David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he held the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. He also served as David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at the University of Oklahoma, Professor Fears was Professor of History and Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer at Indiana University, and Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University. An acclaimed teacher and scholar with more than 25 awards for teaching excellence, Professor Fears was chosen Professor of the Year on three occasions by students at the University of Oklahoma. His other accolades included the Medal for Excellence in College and University Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) Great Plains Region Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the UCEA's National Award for Teaching Excellence. Professor Fears's books and monographs include The Cult of Jupiter and Roman Imperial Ideology and The Theology of Victory at Rome. He edited a three-volume edition of Selected Writings of Lord Acton. His discussions of the Great Books have appeared in newspapers across the country and have aired on national television and radio programs. Professor Fears passed away in October 2012.

By This Professor

The World Was Never the Same: Events That Changed History
854
The Wisdom of History
854
Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life
854
Life Lessons from the Great Myths
854
Kenneth W. Harl

We will be looking largely at archeological evidence and analysis done by anthropologists because we are operating largely in a world without writing.

INSTITUTION

Tulane University
Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, Professor Harl has received numerous teaching awards at Tulane, including the coveted Sheldon H. Hackney Award. He has earned Tulane's annual Student Body Award for Excellence in Teaching nine times and is the recipient of Baylor University's nationwide Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers. In 2007, he was the Lewis P. Jones Visiting Professor in History at Wofford College. An expert on classical Anatolia, he has taken students with him into the field on excursions and to assist in excavations of Hellenistic and Roman sites in Turkey. Professor Harl has also published a wide variety of articles and books, including his current work on coins unearthed in an excavation of Gordion, Turkey, and a new book on Rome and her Iranian foes. A fellow and trustee of the American Numismatic Society, Professor Harl is well known for his studies of ancient coinage. He is the author of Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East, A.D. 180-275 and Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700.

By This Professor

The Ottoman Empire
854
The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes
854
The Vikings
854
The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity
854
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.

INSTITUTION

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
854
The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World
854
The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture
854
Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages
854
God against the Gods: The History of Monotheism and Polytheism
854
John R. Hale

The most important record of religious history resides not in books and sacred texts but buried in the earth.

INSTITUTION

University of Louisville
Dr. John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An accomplished instructor, Professor Hale is also an archaeologist with more than 30 years of fieldwork experience. He has excavated at a Romano-British town in Lincolnshire, England, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal. Among other places, he has carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars. Professor Hale has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award. His writing has been published in the journals Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American.

By This Professor

The Art of Public Speaking
854
The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul
854
Exploring the Roots of Religion
854
Gregory S. Aldrete

As an ancient historian, my goals are to share the enthusiasm for and fascination with antiquity that I feel, and to show some of the connections between that world and our own.

INSTITUTION

University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

Dr. Gregory S. Aldrete is Professor of Humanistic Studies and History at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, where he has taught since 1995. He earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his master's degree and Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Michigan. Honored many times over for his research and his teaching, Professor Aldrete was named by his university as the winner of its highest awards in each category, receiving both its Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship and its Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching. That recognition of his teaching skills was echoed on a national level in 2009, when he received the American Philological Association Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics at the College Level-the national teaching award given annually by the professional association of classics professors. The recipient of many prestigious research fellowships including five from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Professor Aldrete has published several important books in his field, including Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome; Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome; Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia; The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (as editor); Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery: Reconstructing and Testing Ancient Linen Body Armor (with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete) and The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us (with A. Aldrete).

By This Professor

History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach
854
The Decisive Battles of World History
854
A Historian Goes to the Movies: Ancient Rome
854
History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective
854
The Roman Empire: From Augustus to The Fall of Rome
854
The Rise of Rome
854
Edwin Barnhart

In my own experience as an explorer, it's almost always the case that the locals knew where lost places were all along. The discoverer is just the first person to ask the right questions.

INSTITUTION

Maya Exploration Center

Dr. Edwin Barnhart is director of the Maya Exploration Center. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and has over 20 years of experience in North, Central, and South America as an archaeologist, explorer, and instructor. In 1994, Professor Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Maax Na (Spider-Monkey House), a major center of the Classic Maya period in northwestern Belize. In 1998 he was invited by the Mexican government to direct the Palenque Mapping Project, a three-year effort to survey and map the unknown sections of Palenque's ruins. The resultant map has been celebrated as one of the most detailed and accurate ever made of a Maya ruin. In 2003, he became the director of Maya Exploration Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of ancient Maya civilization. The center leads study-abroad courses for college students and tours for the general public in the ruins of the ancient Americas, among its other research and educational activities. Professor Barnhart has taught archaeology and anthropology at Southwest Texas State University, and currently teaches University of Texas travel courses for college professors on ancient Andean and Mesoamerican astronomy, mathematics, and culture. Over the last 10 years, he has appeared multiple times on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and Japanese NHK Public Television. He has published over a dozen papers and given presentations at eight international conferences.

By This Professor

Ancient Civilizations of North America
854
Lost Worlds of South America
854
Exploring the Mayan World
854
Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed
854
Bob Brier

To a great extent, the fun of history is in the details. Knowing what kind of wine Tutankhamen preferred makes him come alive.

INSTITUTION

Long Island University

Dr. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist and Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Hunter College and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Brier has twice been selected as a Fulbright Scholar and has received Long Island University's David Newton Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his achievements as a lecturer. He has served as Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities' Egyptology Today program. In 1994, Dr. Brier became the first person in 2,000 years to mummify a human cadaver in the ancient Egyptian style. This research was the subject of a National Geographic television special, Mr. Mummy. Dr. Brier is also the host of The Learning Channel's series The Great Egyptians. Professor Brier is the author of Ancient Egyptian Magic (1980), Egyptian Mummies (1994), Encyclopedia of Mummies (1998), The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story (1998), Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1999), and numerous scholarly articles.

By This Professor

Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
854
History of Ancient Egypt
854
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.

INSTITUTION

University of Pennsylvania

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.

By This Professor

Ken Albala

It may seem monomaniacal, but I teach about food, I write about food, I love to cook, I read about food for leisure-what better recipe is there for happiness than to make work and play completely seamless?

INSTITUTION

University of the Pacific

Ken Albala is a Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he won the Faye and Alex Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award and has been teaching for more than two decades. He holds an MA in History from Yale University and a PhD in History from Columbia University. He is the author or editor of more than two dozen books on food, including Eating Right in the RenaissanceFood in Early Modern EuropeCooking in Europe, 1250–1650The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance EuropePancake: A Global History; and Beans: A History, winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Jane Grigson Award. He also coedited The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries; Human Cuisine; Food and Faith in Christian Culture; and A Cultural History of Food in the Renaissance. He served as the editor of several food series with more than 100 titles in the past two decades. He also edited the four-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and the three-volume SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues and coedited the journal Food, Culture & Society. His textbook Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Chinese won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine Book in the World. He also coauthored the cookbook The Lost Art of Real Cooking and its sequel, The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home, a handbook of kitchen and home projects. His most recent book is Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession.

By This Professor

Food: A Cultural Culinary History
854
Cooking across the Ages
854
Gary A. Rendsburg

I've always had a love of history, so I very much enjoy bringing this aspect to our course.

INSTITUTION

Rutgers University
Dr. Gary A. Rendsburg holds the Blanche and Irving Laurie Chair in Jewish History in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, where he also holds an appointment in the History Department. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from New York University and taught at Canisius College and Cornell University-the latter for 18 years-before joining the Rutgers faculty in 2004. The author of six books and more than 120 scholarly articles, Professor Rendsburg takes a special interest in literary approaches to the Bible, the history of the Hebrew language, the history of ancient Israel, and the development of Judaism in the post-biblical period. His works include The Bible and the Ancient Near East (1997), a general survey of the biblical world coauthored with the late Cyrus H. Gordon, and, most recently, Solomon's Vineyard: Literary and Linguistic Studies in the Song of Songs (2009), coauthored with Scott B. Noegel. Professor Rendsburg has visited all of the major archaeological sites in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan and has explored Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, repeatedly for several decades. He has participated in excavations at Tel Dor and Caesarea. His main research interests are the literature of the Bible, the history of ancient Israel, the historical development of the Hebrew language, and the relationship between ancient Egypt and ancient Israel. Professor Rendsburg has received several fellowships including the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By This Professor

The Dead Sea Scrolls
854
Craig G. Benjamin

These big ideas of Eastern civilization emerged thousands of years ago, but they endured and shaped the long history of these regions all the way to the present.

INSTITUTION

Grand Valley State University

Dr. Craig G. Benjamin is Associate Professor of History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), where he teaches East Asian civilization, big history, ancient Central Asian history, and historiography. He earned his undergraduate education at The Australian National University in Canberra and Macquarie University in Sydney, and his Ph.D. in Ancient History from Macquarie University. Professor Benjamin has received several awards for teaching, including the 2012 Faculty of Distinction Award from Omicron Delta Kappa Society (a national leadership honor society) and the 2009 Student Award for Faculty Excellence from the GVSU Student Senate. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Yuezhi: Origin, Migration and the Conquest of Northern Bactria and Readings in the Historiography of World History. He is coauthor (with David Christian and Cynthia Stokes Brown) of Big History: Between Nothing and Everything. Professor Benjamin is an officer of the World History Association and the International Big History Association. He is also a consultant for The College Board and a member of the SAT World History Subject Committee and the Advanced Placement World History Development Committee.

By This Professor

The Big History of Civilizations
854
Foundations of Eastern Civilization
854
The Mongol Empire
854
Glenn S. Holland

To learn about religion is to learn about what motivates and inspires people at the most basic level, leading them to look beyond the everyday business of life to something more meaningful and ultimately more satisfying.

INSTITUTION

Allegheny College

Dr. Glenn S. Holland is the Bishop James Thoburn Professor of Religious Studies at Allegheny College. He earned his B.A. from Stanford University, his M.A. in Theology from the University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. in the Bible and New Testament Studies from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Professor Holland is the recipient of several honors and awards, including the Thoburn Chair in Religious Studies in 1992, and the Divisional Professorship in Humanities at Allegheny College in 2003. Professor Holland wrote and edited several books, including Philodemus and the New Testament World and Divine Irony, a study of irony as the adoption of the divine perspectives on events in the human world. Professor Holland is a contributor and assistant editor for the award-winning journal Common Knowledge.

By This Professor

Marc Zender

The invention and development of writing is a fascinating subject; it sheds light on human ingenuity, complexity, and even on civilization itself.

INSTITUTION

Tulane University

Dr. Marc Zender is Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University and a research associate in Harvard University’s Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program. He earned his Honors B.A. in Anthropology from The University of British Columbia and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of Calgary. Professor Zender has published extensively on Mesoamerican languages and writing systems, especially those of the Maya and Aztecs (Nahuatl). He has done archaeological and epigraphic fieldwork throughout Mexico and Central America and currently works as an epigrapher for both the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project and the Proyecto Arqueologico de Comalcalco in Tabasco, Mexico. Professor Zender is the coauthor of Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture. He is the director of Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, an associate editor of The PARI Journal, and a contributing editor to Mesoweb, a major Internet resource for the study of Classic Maya civilization. His research has been featured in several documentaries on The History Channel and by the BBC. As a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in anthropology at Harvard from 2004 to 2011, Professor Zender was a seven-time recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He also received the distinguished Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008.

By This Professor

Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity
854
Bart D. Ehrman

After his crucifixion, Jesus' disciples came to believe he'd been raised from the dead and made a divine being. What had seemed like defeat became for them the ultimate cosmic victory.

INSTITUTION

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his undergraduate work at Wheaton College and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Ehrman has written or edited 27 books, including four best sellers on The New York Times list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know about Them);and Forged: Writing in the Name of God-Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Professor Ehrman also served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Southeastern Region; book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature; editor of the Scholars' Press monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers;and coeditor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae. Professor Ehrman received the John William Pope Center Spirit of Inquiry Award, the UNC Students' Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professorship (awarded for excellence in undergraduate teaching).

By This Professor

How Jesus Became God
854
The New Testament
854
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication
854
The Triumph of Christianity
854
Dr. Grant L. Voth

No idea of any single culture will ever capture the entire human sense of god, or creation, or the hero; and to get a more complete human picture, we have to look at the myths of many cultures.

INSTITUTION

Monterey Peninsula College
Dr. Grant L. Voth, is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Greek, he received his Master of Arts degree in English Education from St. Thomas College and his doctorate in English from Purdue University. Professor Voth was the Monterey Peninsula Students' Association Teacher of the Year and the recipient of the first Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching in Monterey County. Professor Voth is the author of more than 30 articles and books on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Edward Gibbon to modern American fiction, including the official study guides for 26 of the plays in the BBC Television Shakespeare project. He created a series of mediated courses in literature and interdisciplinary studies, one of which won a Special Merit Award from the Western Educational Society for Telecommunication. Professor Voth's other Great Courses include A Day's Read, The History of World Literature, Myth in Human History, and The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
854
Lawrence M. Principe

One of the best things about history, to my mind, is that it gives us a sense of perspective-a perspective that often reveals how strange and atypical our times are in relation to the past.

INSTITUTION

Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Lawrence M. Principe is Drew Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Principe earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware. He also holds two doctorates: a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Johns Hopkins University. In 1999, the Carnegie Foundation chose Professor Principe as the Maryland Professor of the Year, and in 1998 he received the Templeton Foundation's award for courses dealing with science and religion. Johns Hopkins has repeatedly recognized Professor Principe's teaching achievements. He has won its Distinguished Faculty Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the George Owen Teaching Award. In 2004, Professor Principe was awarded the first Francis Bacon Prize by the California Institute of Technology, awarded to an outstanding scholar whose work has had substantial impact on the history of science, the history of technology, or historically-engaged philosophy of science. Professor Principe has published numerous papers and is the author or coauthor of three books, including The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest.

By This Professor

Elizabeth Vandiver

I think many of the stories that we tell ourselves as a society–the stories that encode our hopes, aspirations, and fears–preserve the traces of classical culture and myth and are part of our classical legacy.

INSTITUTION

Whitman College

Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver is Professor of Classics and Clement Biddle Penrose Professor of Latin at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She was formerly Director of the Honors Humanities program at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she also taught in the Department of Classics. She completed her undergraduate work at Shimer College and went on to earn her MA and PhD from The University of Texas at Austin.

Prior to taking her position at Maryland, she held visiting professorships at Northwestern University, the University of Georgia, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Loyola University of New Orleans, and Utah State University.

In 1998, The American Philological Association recognized her achievements as a lecturer with its Excellence in Teaching Award, the most prestigious teaching prize given to American classicists. In 2013 she received Whitman College's G. Thomas Edwards Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship. Her other awards include the Northwestern University Department of Classics Excellence in Teaching Award and two University of Georgia Outstanding Honors Professor Awards.

Professor Vandiver is the author of Stand in the Trench, Achilles: Classical Receptions in British Poetry of the Great War and Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. She has also written numerous articles and has delivered many papers at national and international conferences.

By This Professor

Classical Mythology
854
Garrett G. Fagan

To learn about the people of antiquity is to examine the foundations of how we live today. They are at once alien and familiar, an image of ourselves glimpsed in a distant mirror.

INSTITUTION

The Pennsylvania State University
Garrett G. Fagan (1963–2017) was a Professor of Ancient History at Pennsylvania State University. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was educated at Trinity College. He earned his PhD from McMaster University and held teaching positions at McMaster University, York University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also gave many public lectures to audiences of all ages. Professor Fagan had an extensive research record in Roman history and held a prestigious Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Cologne. He published numerous articles in international journals, and he wrote Bathing in Public in the Roman World. He also edited a volume on the phenomenon of pseudoarcheology.

By This Professor

David J. Schenker

The best of ancient Greek literature retains a freshness and immediacy that reaches far beyond its time and place of creation and speaks to readers and audience members today.

INSTITUTION

University of Missouri, Columbia

Dr. David J. Schenker is Associate Professor of Classical Literature at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he has taught since 1991. Dr. Schenker earned his Ph.D. in Classics from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Schenker was a recipient of the 2006 American Philological Association Awards for Excellence in Teaching. At the University of Missouri-Columbia, he has won several teaching awards, including the Provost's Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award and the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching. His primary research interest is Greek literature of the 5th and early 4th centuries B.C.E., with a focus on Plato and the tragedians, especially Aeschylus. He has published articles on these subjects in several academic journals and was coeditor of the journal Classical and Modern Literature for six years.

David Roochnik

What if you were hurled into a time warp and came face to face with the Ancient Greeks? The Greeks invented trigonometry. They did autopsies and dissections. What could you tell an Ancient Greek that he couldn't say, 'Big deal.'?

INSTITUTION

Boston University

Dr. David Roochnik is Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, where he teaches in both the Department of Philosophy and the Core Curriculum, an undergraduate program in the humanities. He completed his undergraduate work at Trinity College, where he majored in philosophy, and earned his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Roochnik was awarded Boston University's Gitner Award in 1997 for excellence in teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences and the 1999 Metcalf Prize for campus-wide teaching excellence. He is the author of two books on Plato, The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos and Of Art and Wisdom: Plato's Understanding of TECHNE. He has also published over 30 articles on a wide range of subjects in classical Greek philosophy and literature.

Jonathan P. Roth

INSTITUTION

San José State University

Dr. Jonathan P. Roth is Professor of History at San Jose State University. He received his B.A. in Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology from the University of California, Berkeley, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has taught at Tulane University in New Orleans, New York University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Roth has researched, written, and lectured extensively on ancient warfare and warfare in world history. He founded and serves as the Director of San Jose State's Burdick Military History Project. His book Logistics of the Roman Army at War, 264 B.C. to A.D. 235 was published in 1999, and his Roman Warfare, a survey textbook, was published in 2009. From 1983 to 1989, Professor Roth served in the New York Army National Guard. He rose to the rank of second lieutenant and served as a platoon leader, a chemical officer, and a mobilization officer. Professor Roth has been widely recognized for his scholarship and teaching. As a Fulbright Scholar, he studied at the Georg August University in Guttingen, Germany. In 2006, he was honored as San Jose State University's Outstanding Professor.

Robert L. Dise Jr.

It’s a grand dream: the dream of empire, a dream of glory, a dream of fame, a dream with the power to inspire and the power to destroy.

INSTITUTION

University of Northern Iowa

Dr. Robert L. Dise Jr. is Associate Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches highly popular courses on the history of the ancient Near East, Greece, Rome, and classical civilization. He earned his B.A. in History from the University of Virginia and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Before joining the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, Professor Dise taught at Clinch Valley College-now the University of Virginia's College at Wise. Professor Dise has delivered numerous papers at a variety of conferences on ancient history, classical studies, and archaeology. Additionally, he is the author of Cultural Change and Imperial Administration, which examines the origins and evolution of ancient Roman provincial administration. Although he is widely published, Professor Dise regards teaching as the single most important activity that a college faculty member undertakes.

The Joy of Ancient History

Trailer

Lessons of the Peloponnesian War

01: Lessons of the Peloponnesian War

What is the historical significance of the Peloponnesian War? Why is it still studied by scholars, philosophers, and popular historians? Discover why the lessons from this epic ancient conflict still resonate today.

34 min
Parthenon and Acropolis

02: Parthenon and Acropolis

Explore the glorious building program associated with the Greek statesman and general, Pericles. Learn how he took it upon himself to transform a motley assortment of shrines, treasure houses, and altars on the Acropolis into an artistically integrated sanctuary.

31 min
Heroes at Thermopylae

03: Heroes at Thermopylae

During the Greek and Persian Wars, a small band of 300 Spartans, led by King Leonidas, attempted to hold the Persian army back from a chief passage to inland Greece. Find out how, in their tragic defeat, the Greek forces found a legendary martyr and an extraordinary example of courage.

32 min
On Athenian Tragedy

04: On Athenian Tragedy

In this insightful lecture, investigate the Athenian drama of the Golden Age, focusing on tragedy produced by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Also, get an introduction to the roots, mechanics, and conventions of this great literary genre.

33 min
The Parable of the Cave

05: The Parable of the Cave

Perhaps because he realized the difficulty of understanding both the idea of the Good and the Divided Line, Socrates told another parable: that of the cave. Learn why, even today, Socrates’ metaphor remains a powerful example of challenging the nature of reality.

31 min
Famous Greeks—Solon

06: Famous Greeks—Solon

Many figures from archaic Greece are hardly more than names to us, but not Solon, who used his mind to serve his country. Here, get unique insights into the values and motives of the statesman whom America’s Founding Fathers so admired.

32 min
Aristotle's View of the Natural World

07: Aristotle's View of the Natural World

Aristotle’s interests were diverse and included ethics, politics, logic, and metaphysics; yet his primary impact was on the development of natural philosophy. This lecture introduces you to his writings and ideas as a response to his predecessors, Plato and the Pre-Socratics.

30 min
The Battles of Megiddo and Kadesh

08: The Battles of Megiddo and Kadesh

Why are the ancient battles of Megiddo and Kadesh still hotly debated? Find out with a glimpse of the first examples of ancient Egyptian battle narratives, which offer historians insight into the empire’s sophisticated military regimes and its use of propaganda.

30 min
Greco-Roman Views on Death—and Beyond

09: Greco-Roman Views on Death—and Beyond

Compare and contrast views of death among the Greeks and Romans. Although both cultures placed great emphasis on continuing ties between the living and the dead, the Romans incorporated the deceased into their lives to a much greater degree than the Greeks.

30 min
Gaius Julius Caesar

10: Gaius Julius Caesar

To Rome’s top politicians, Gaius Julius Caesar at first seemed nothing more than a political hack of little ability and less character. Uncover how Caesar’s expeditions in Gaul transformed world history, laying the foundations for the civilizations of France and western Europe

31 min
Early Germanic Europe

11: Early Germanic Europe

Germanic tribes came to represent the most ferocious barbarians Romans had encountered. Find out how these nomadic tribes foiled Roman attempts to conquer them, and how the Germanic dialects that eventually emerged gave rise to modern languages.

31 min
Gladiatorial Games

12: Gladiatorial Games

The Roman gladiator—fighting to the death before huge and bloodthirsty crowds—still fascinates us today. Who were the gladiators? How were they selected and trained? And how can we understand gladiatorial violence in light of Roman sophistication?

28 min
Dining in Imperial and Republican Rome

13: Dining in Imperial and Republican Rome

Delve into the intriguing dining habits of the ancient Romans, from the simple food customs of the expanding empire to the use of exotic food as a status symbol. Then, examine an ancient cookbook aimed at those Romans eager to flaunt their wealth.

30 min
The (Mad) Emperor Caligula

14: The (Mad) Emperor Caligula

The ancient sources tend to portray Caligula as deranged. But was he really insane? Examine different modern approaches to his behavior and explore an ancient eyewitness account that gives you a sense of what it was like to be in the emperor’s presence.

29 min
Being a Rich Roman

15: Being a Rich Roman

Check out the wealthy lives of the ancient Romans. You’ll tour a grand house in the city and countryside; learn about Roman customs of dress, food, and hygiene; and follow a rich Roman’s daily life (and meet the doting clients who make him seem important).

28 min
The Mystery Cults

16: The Mystery Cults

Mystery cults were believed to worship a particular god or goddess, and they often involved mysterious initiation rites. Learn how some cults have stirred a controversial debate between scholars, and whether these groups can be used to measure the decline of paganism.

31 min
Herodotus’s Account of Egypt

17: Herodotus’s Account of Egypt

Why does Egypt occupy the longest digression in Herodotus’s Histories? How does the ancient historian reconcile his view of Egypt as a source for Greek culture—while viewing it as a topsy-turvy land where Greek ways are oddly reversed? Find out in this intriguing lecture.

33 min
The Great Pyramid of Giza

18: The Great Pyramid of Giza

Get a nuts-and-bolts look at the Egyptians’ most monumental feat: the Great Pyramid of Giza. This lecture also discusses the 144-foot solar boat that was found in 1954, buried near the ancient structure.

30 min
Being an Egyptian Worker

19: Being an Egyptian Worker

As an ancient Egyptian, you might have been a herdsman, a hunter, or (most dangerously) a miner. Learn about professions that would have been available to you in the village of Deir el-Medina—from an educated scribe to a craftsman who built royal tombs.

32 min
Cleopatra—The Last Pharaoh

20: Cleopatra—The Last Pharaoh

Although she was possibly the most famous woman in the ancient world, Cleopatra remains an enigma to us today. This lecture reconstructs the iconic ancient Egyptian’s dramatic story—before and after Julius Caesar, and with Marc Antony.

32 min
What Do the Mayan Glyphs Say?

21: What Do the Mayan Glyphs Say?

How can the strikingly similar structural features of Mayan and ancient Egyptian writing systems be explained? Explore how Mayan writing works through a comparison with Egyptian hieroglyphs. Then, find out what scholars have learned about the Maya from decipherment.

31 min
The Amazon—Civilization Lost in the Jungle

22: The Amazon—Civilization Lost in the Jungle

Recent discoveries indicate the presence of massive ancient civilizations in the Amazon. Survey the evidence for their existence, starting with the Beni region’s elaborate system of mounds and canals. Then, continue exploring wide areas of ancient habitation that date back to 6000 B.C.

29 min
Chalice of Blood in Ancient Peru

23: Chalice of Blood in Ancient Peru

When archaeologists studied painted pots used by the Moche of South America, they found depictions of priests engaged in bloody human sacrifices; remains found at a later excavation matched the figures from these pots. Come to terms with this startling aspect of ancient religions.

31 min
Attila the Hun—Scourge of God

24: Attila the Hun—Scourge of God

Considered both a great leader and merciless conqueror, Attila the Hun has captured the popular imagination for centuries. Here, follow the story from his rise to power to his death, including the royal marriage proposal that ultimately led to the ravaging of western Europe.

32 min
Mesopotamian Creation Stories

25: Mesopotamian Creation Stories

Mesopotamian gods are like overlords in a political hierarchy, but with divine authority and power. This lecture reveals the wondrous gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon, and discusses two stories—the Enuma Elish and the myth of Adapa—that describe the origins of all things.

31 min
The Empire of Hammurabi

26: The Empire of Hammurabi

After Ur III, the subsequent power vacuum in Mesopotamia was filled by the famous King Hammurabi. Learn how he established the First Dynasty of Babylon (which collapsed after his death) and administered his kingdom through a detailed code of law.

32 min
The Epic of Gilgamesh

27: The Epic of Gilgamesh

In this lecture, examine one of the world’s oldest literary works: an ancient poem that combines a heroic story with a spiritual quest. Find out how the legendary King Gilgamesh comes to terms with the inevitability of mortality and becomes a more effective leader.

31 min
The Chariot Revolution

28: The Chariot Revolution

During history’s first major military revolution, the chariot spread east across Asia. See how its evolving design created a lethal weapons system—and also transformed pastoral life on the Asian steppes. Then, learn about the complex personnel and organization needed for chariot warfare.

32 min
The Assyrian War Machine

29: The Assyrian War Machine

The Assyrian military model involved a highly effective and complex war machine that characterized major Near Eastern powers for centuries. Study the nature of the Assyrian army, the unique features of the empire it created, and the place of warfare in Assyrian imperial ideology.

31 min
The Art and Architecture of Power

30: The Art and Architecture of Power

Ancient art and architecture unearthed by archaeologists are more than just evidence of the past or messages to the future; they were often meant as statements to their own time. Discover how ancient societies used art and architecture to promote their rule and illustrate their power.

30 min
Cyrus, Xenophon, and the Ten Thousand

31: Cyrus, Xenophon, and the Ten Thousand

Prince Cyrus, under the facade of suppressing hill tribes, assembled the famed army of Ten Thousand to challenge his brother’s claim to the throne. Among them was Xenophon, who later wrote about the epic march into the heart of the Persian Empire.

31 min
Opening the First Dead Sea Scroll

32: Opening the First Dead Sea Scroll

Immerse yourself in the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls, starting with the first scroll, known as the Community Rule (or Manual of Discipline). This astonishing text gives you your first insight into the community and theology of the scrolls’ ancient creators and guardians.

33 min
Jesus in His Context

33: Jesus in His Context

Get a closer look at the historical background to the life and times of Jesus. Focus on Palestine’s history of war and foreign domination, the emergence of different forms of Judaism, and the Roman takeover of Israel about 60 years before Jesus was born.

31 min
The Legend of Troy

34: The Legend of Troy

The most enduring legacies from early Anatolia are the Iliad and the Odyssey. This lecture describes how the siege of Troy—and the exploits of Homer’s warrior chieftains—fit into the wider tale of imperial struggle and decline during Greece’s dark ages.

31 min
The Qin and the First Emperor of China

35: The Qin and the First Emperor of China

After the Qin ruled China for only 15 years, the dynasty established a model of government that became the country’s template for the next 2,000 years. Meet China’s first emperors and study the impact of Qin rule, from political reform to massive building projects.

30 min
Alexander Invades India

36: Alexander Invades India

Embark with Alexander on his most ambitious campaign: into the Indus Valley. Explore the warrior’s reasons for undertaking this expedition, learn about Indian battle methods and terrain, and examine why the Indian rajahs presented such formidable opposition to the invading Macedonians.

31 min