Why this book?
A long time ago, back in the mid-1970s, my Greek history professor told me that Dodds’ Greeks and the Irrational was one of the most important books on Greek history of the 20th century. He was right. It is a wonderful book, full of amazing facts about magic, ritual, and religion. It has had a huge impact on the field of classical studies and is still in print 70 years after its first publication. Dodds was a distinguished Greek scholar (the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford) but wrote for a wide audience interested in not only Greek civilization but social science as well. I have thought hard and long about his book ever since reading it on my professor’s recommendation.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
In this philosophy classic, which was first published in 1951, E.R. Dodds takes on the traditional view of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism. Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, 'Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 'primitive' modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?'. Praised by reviewers as "an event in modern Greek scholarship" and "a book which it would be difficult to over-praise", "The Greeks and the Irrational" was Volume 25 of the "Sather Classical Lectures" series.