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Mythology Hardcover – April 30, 2013
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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About the Author
Edith Hamilton (1868-1963) was born of American parents in Dresden, Germany, and grew up in Indiana. Through the first quarter of the twentieth century she was the headmistress of the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. Upon retiring, she began to write about the civilizations of the ancient world and soon gained world renown as a classicist. Her celebrated and bestselling books include Mythology, The Greek Way, The Roman Way, and The Echo of Greece. She regarded as the high point of her life a 1957 ceremony in which King Paul of Greece named her an honorary citizen of Athens.
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For a hundred years Athens was a city where the great spiritual forces that war in men's minds flowed along together in peace; law and freedom, truth and religion, beauty and goodness, the objective and the subjective--there was a truce to their eternal warfare, and the result was the balance and clarity, the harmony and completeness, the word Greek has come to stand for. They saw both sides of the paradox of truth, giving predominance to neither, and in all Greek art there is an absence of struggle, a reconciling power, something of calm and serenity, the world has yet to see again.
For Hamilton, the Romans moved into the center of western culture, usurping the Greeks' place, from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd AD. In The Roman Way she looks at the exemplary writers and forms who have had a lasting impact on western culture, and she never wavers from the view that understanding the Romans is key to making sense of modern public and private life. Her purpose is to palpate the Romans themselves--their values and social systems--believing the best way to understand them is through their writing. She helpfully compares and contrasts Roman romanticism with Greek classicism throughout the book. Obviously, in an introductory text like this, not every writer can have his due; those to whom she pays the most attention are Plautus, Terence, Cicero, Horace, Catallus, Juvenal, Virgil and Seneca. Through them, she reveals the Caesars, the Claudii, the Stoics, the art, the bloody warfare, the greed, the corruption, gender relations, class structure, the political intrigues and paradoxes, and the empire's demise.
Is this a complete concordance to the Roman canon? No. A comprehensive history? No. It's about getting a feel for who the Romans were and what mattered to them in their own words and why they continue to matter. It is a compelling overview made lively by Hamilton who does not look upon her topic as dead but rather quite vital.