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Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (Hinges of History) Paperback – July 27, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
I have a soft spot for Greek culture so I was easily won over by this book. Though there is some value to the trend of multiculturalism that has permeated American schools in recent decades, I believe strongly that no culture has had more impact on modern Western civilization than the Greeks and we ignore them at our peril. In examining the strengths and weaknesses of the Greeks, we can see an image of our own strengths and weaknesses.
I was a little disappointed to find very little discussion of the Greek development of mathematics (beyond a brief discussion of Pythagoras, focusing mainly on his philosophy). Greek formalization of mathematics may be their most important legacy to us, ultimately leading to modern science. Instead, Cahill focuses mainly on literature, art, philosophy and politics and, in these areas, offers a nice history.
Clearly, Cahill is knowledgeable and his prose is very readable despite his tendency to quote extensively in this book. He doesn't offer us many unique or challenging insights but he does remind us of the great contributions of Greek culture. It is a valuable thing to do.
It is a rehash of standard scholarship delivered in language of the common man (common according to Cahill). As such it presents what amounts to a laundry-list of non-essentials that does not clearly differentiate the Greeks from other cultures, nor account for western civilization. For example, this list includes the following Greek "contributions" to the West: blood-lusting militarism, vowels, the subconscious yearning for community, unfettered discourse and inquiry, homosexuality, pornography, orgiastic debauchery, slavery, democracy, political theatre, the idea of innate guilt, xenophobia, sexism, racism, imperialism, "help" inventing things like philosophy, science and history, the Socratic Method, the syllogism, transcendentalism and the divine, improvements in architecture and sculpture, pathos and yearning for an impossible ideal, pedophilia, reckless conceit, the idea of self-sacrifice for the common good. How can the reader determine what out of this hash made western civilization possible? In the spirit of cultural relativism, Cahill offers no guidance.
Cahill's list of non-essentials ignores the most fundamental Greek contribution that made western civilization possible: the discovery and use of reason.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Cahill's books, but he spent a little too much time on Homer in the beginning and I couldn't get into it.Published 8 days ago by Kevin M
So readable. It kept your interest while it informed you about the ancient Greeks and how their culture still affects ours.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Yummy history of the Greek contributions to Western Civilization.Published 1 month ago by bebeodonnell
I really don't care that this was a National Best seller. I found the level of writing in the book really oriented to a 5th grader. Additionally, the book felt very formulaic. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Missie
My second book in this series. Cahill makes ancient history interesting, even to me.Published 3 months ago by V. W. House
Sadly, while some of his summaries are quite apt, overall the book is not up to the task. Significant sections of Greek life are missing and when he pontificates on sex and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by milou
Thomas Cahill provides a introductory course on the influence of ancient Greece that balances broad descriptions with concrete examples. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mariah MacKay
A little different in structure than his works on the Middle Ages and the dawn of science, but worthwhile as written. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dr. Ed
Anybody who is not already a Greek Scholar needs to read this book before venturing to Greece. It reflects solid scholarship in a very accessible and interesting writing style...Published 12 months ago by Robert Marcus