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The Greek Way Paperback – August 17, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0393310771 ISBN-10: 0393310779 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (August 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393310779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393310771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


''A book of both cultural and critical importance.'' --New York Times

''At last, a landmark recording of Hamilton's magnificent, in-depth overview of Greek life, civilization, literature, art, theater, rhetoric, and history, making this key work of cultural and critical significance available to the audio generation . . . This program is well read by Nadia May.'' --Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Edith Hamilton won the National Achievement Award in 1950, received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from Yale University, the University of Rochester, and the University of Pennsylvania, and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1957 she was many an honorary citizen of Athens and was decorated with the Golden Cross of the Order of Benefaction by King Paul of Greece.

Customer Reviews

The book ends in a small comparison of the unbalance of the modern world from the Greeks.
R. Schwartz
The Greek Way is a successful blend of unique insights and standard information presented in an interesting, readable, and even entertaining manner.
Bill R. Moore
The Greek Way is truly one of the Great Books which should be read by anyone wanting to understand the essence of western civilization.
douglas m. cook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 141 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Who were the ancient Greeks and why do they still move us? Their society is as alien to us as their language. Yet Greece still beckons us more than two millennia since the fall of Athens. The pinnacle of Greek culture lasted a mere century, yet it has left its mark on all of western society. The great intellectual institutions, such as philosophy, science and literature, originated in Greece. Beyond these marvels, however, lies a value so fundamentally important - and enduring - that a basic understanding of the Greeks is as important today as ever.
In The Greek Way, author Edith Hamilton covers the height of Greek culture in the 5th century BC. She begins by contrasting the east and west - an approach that becomes clear as one reads along. The east, according to Hamilton, stood for faith and force, while Greece embodied the opposite values of reason and freedom. Early in the book, Hamilton writes: "In a world where the irrational had played the chief role, they (the Greeks) came forward as the protagonists of the mind." Thus, the Greeks introduced to the world the idea that the universe was orderly, that man's senses were valid and, as a consequence, that man's proper purpose was to live his own life to the fullest. These are discoveries that many westerners take for granted today, but not Edith Hamilton. Throughout the book, she constantly reminds the reader of the awe and beauty of the Greek spirit.
An important corollary of the Greek view that the world is knowable was their belief in the supremacy of independence. Hamilton paints a vivid portrait of the major Greek writers, statesmen and philosophers, all of whom possessed just such an intransigent commitment to independence.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Louise Cate on April 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Edith Hamilton's book, The Greek Way, tells the amazing story of how the Greeks in the small city of Athens developed a new way of life in the western world around 500BC. Some of the highlights of her fascinating story are as follows:

In a world where tyrants and the irrational played the chief role, the Greeks in the city of Athens believed in the supremacy of the mind in the affairs of men. The Athenians lived in a "reasonable" world because they used their reason on the world.

For a brief period, extraordinary creative activity blossomed in Athens because the Athenians combined the clarity of reason with spiritual power.

 The ancient Egyptians left tombs (Pyramids) as their monuments to death.

 The ancient Athenians left theaters, statues, and plays as their monuments to life.

The Athenians were different from most other ancient peoples because:

 The mountains of Greece helped to create a physically vigorous people who resisted submitting to despots.

 The Athenians looked at the world closely and had an intense desire to understand what they saw. They were the first "scientists" and delighted in making the obscure clear and finding system, order, and connection in the world.

 The Athenians loved reason, knowledge, and play.

 The Athenians were not oppressed by governments, religions or superstitions and were free to use their minds to examine whatever they wished.

 The Athenians, unlike many ancient or modern cultures, found the world a beautiful and delightful place in which to live and they found happiness in using their vital powers in the pursuit of excellence.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Kay on October 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
" Little is left of all this wealth of great art: the sculptures, defaced and broken into bits, have crumbled away; the buildings are fallen; the paintings gone forever; of the writings, all lost but a very few. We have only the ruin of what was; the world has had no more than that for well on for two thousand years; yet these few remains of the mighty structure have been a challenge and an incitement to men ever since and they are among our possessions today which we value as most precious." A passage taken at random (page 18 of my Norton edition) which illustrates the strength of this remarkable book. Edith Hamilton writes beautiful prose which has been a joy to many since her book was first published in 1930.

She writes for an audience unfamiliar with ancient Greek culture. Her attempt to indicate the effect that Pindar achieved is perhaps bound to fail, but it is a noble attempt. She fares a little better with the dramatists, though hindered in that we are little equipped to appreciate verse drama in translation. The best sections are those dealing with prose writers: Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides. An important proviso though is that Hamilton is not primarily an analyst. She strives to pass on her own love and appreciation, not a critique. As such her work has always been welcomed by lay readers new to the subject.

This beautifully written book, both lofty and inspiring, yet inculcates a number of falsities about ancient Greece, once commonly held. It downplays Greek religion and magical and mystical beliefs, apparantly under the impression that the philosophical outlook (which survives in written form more so than religious texts) was the norm.
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More About the Author

Edith Hamilton, an educator, writer and a historian, was born August 12, 1867 in Dresden, Germany, of American parents and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her father began teaching her Latin when she was seven years old and soon added Greek, French, and German to her curriculum. Hamilton's education continued at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, and at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1894 with an M.A. degree. The following year, she and her sister Alice went to Germany and were the first women students at the universities of Munich and Leipzich.
Hamilton returned to the United States in 1896 and accepted the position of headmistress of the Bryn Mawr Preparatory School in Baltimore, Maryland. For the next twenty-six years, she directed the education of about four hundred girls per year. After her retirement in 1922, she started writing and publishing scholarly articles on Greek drama. In 1930, when she was sixty-three years old, she published The Greek Way, in which she presented parallels between life in ancient Greece and in modern times. The book was a critical and popular success. In 1932, she published The Roman Way, which was also very successful. These were followed by The Prophets of Israel (1936), Witness to the Truth: Christ and His Interpreters (1949), Three Greek Plays, translations of Aeschylus and Euripides (1937), Mythology (1942), The Great Age of Greek Literature (1943), Spokesmen for God (1949) and Echo of Greece (1957). Hamilton traveled to Greece in 1957 to be made an honorary citizen of Athens and to see a performance in front of the Acropolis of one of her translations of Greek plays. She was ninety years old at the time. At home, Hamilton was a recipient of many honorary degrees and awards, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Edith Hamilton died on May 31, 1963 in Washington, D.C.

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