10 books like The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World

By Robert Sallares,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Ancient Greece

By Paul Cartledge,

Book cover of Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction

This is an outstanding short introduction to Greek history – with a really neat gimmick. Instead of writing a standard kind of history, Cartledge picks on the eleven most prominent cities of ancient Greece and writes up their story in about ten or twelve pages. But the chapters are also organized chronologically, so that the first two cities, Cnossos and Mycenae, illustrate Greek prehistory. Then we move on to the Archaic Period (four places, including Sparta), then the Classical Period (three, including Athens), and then the Hellenistic period (one: Alexandria, the greatest city in the world before Rome). He ends with a leap into late antiquity and the eastern Roman empire with Byzantium. I’m always on the lookout for books that can turn people on to Greek history, get them to share my (and Cartledge’s) passion: this one does it brilliantly.

Ancient Greece

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ancient Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The contribution of the Ancient Greeks to modern western culture is incalculable. In the worlds of art, architecture, myth, literature, and philosophy, the world we live in would be unrecognizably different without the formative influence of Ancient Greek models.

Ancient Greek civilization was defined by the city - in Greek, the polis, from which we derive 'politics'. It is above all this feature of Greek civilization that has formed its most enduring legacy, spawning such key terms as aristocracy, oligarchy, tyranny and - last but by no means least - democracy.

This stimulating Very Short Introduction to Ancient Greece takes…


Women in the Classical World

By Sarah B. Pomeroy, H.A. Shapiro, Elaine Fantham, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen

Book cover of Women in the Classical World

A team of experts got together to create this wonderful book. It is well illustrated, clearly written throughout, and firmly based on textual and other evidence. That is, the authors typically start with a general statement such as “There were increased opportunities for women to be educated in the Hellenistic world,” and then go on for a few pages to show how this came about by translating and commenting on the relevant texts, and showing the relevant vase paintings. Ancient Greek history tends to be very male-oriented – almost all ancient Greek writing was done by men, for instance – so this book is a much-needed antidote.

Women in the Classical World

By Sarah B. Pomeroy, H.A. Shapiro, Elaine Fantham, Helene Peet Foley, Natalie Boymel Kampen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women in the Classical World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BL The only study to integrate such a wide range of materials on the women of ancient Greece and Rome into one accessible volume BL Written by a team of distinguished classical scholars and art historians Women in the Classical World gathers the most important primary written and visual sources on the lives of ancient women and presents them in a chronological sequence, within their historical and cultural contexts.


Interstate Relations in Classical Greece

By Polly Low,

Book cover of Interstate Relations in Classical Greece: Morality and Power

Anyone with any degree of acquaintance with ancient history knows that the Greeks were often at war with one another. This book explores the rules that governed their interactions. Was there any kind of international law? If so, was any of it actually written down, or did it exist at the level of “unwritten law” – a live issue even today? How was it enforced, and by whom? There was no United Nations in those days. Did it succeed in reducing belligerence among the Greeks? Or was the only principle that might is right, so that stronger cities had the right to subdue their weaker neighbours? These are all critically important questions for understanding the Greeks and the course of their history. Overall, the book argues that the Greeks were more moral and restrained in their dealings with one another than one might have guessed.

Interstate Relations in Classical Greece

By Polly Low,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Interstate Relations in Classical Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book Dr Low explores the assumptions and principles which determined the conduct and representation of interstate politics in Greece during the fifth and fourth centuries BC. She employs a wide range of ancient evidence, both epigraphic and literary, as well as some contemporary theoretical approaches from the field of International Relations. Taking a thematic rather than a chronological approach, she addresses topics such as the nature of interstate society in the Greek world; the sources, scope and enforcement of 'international law'; the nature of interstate ethics and morality; interventionism and imperialism; and the question of change and stability.…


The Athenian Experiment

By Greg Anderson,

Book cover of The Athenian Experiment: Building an Imagined Political Community in Ancient Attica, 508-490 B.C.

At the very end of the sixth century BCE, the Athenians took a leap of faith and turned their city into the first democracy – or proto-democracy, anyway: much tweaking went on over subsequent decades. In terms of European history as a whole, this has probably been the most important event to come out of ancient Greece. It has of course been much studied – so it is remarkable that Anderson’s book is filled with fresh insights into the background of the “Athenian experiment,” what actually happened, and why. The results are often surprising. Above all, he demonstrates that it was not a bottom-up spontaneous revolution by the masses, but a deliberate piece of social engineering by members of the Athenian elite.

The Athenian Experiment

By Greg Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Athenian Experiment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In barely the space of one generation, Athens was transformed from a conventional city-state into something completely new--a region-state on a scale previously unthinkable. This book sets out to answer a seemingly simple question: How and when did the Athenian state attain the anomalous size that gave it such influence in Greek politics and culture in the classical period? Many scholars argue that Athens's incorporation of Attica was a gradual development, largely completed some two hundred years before the classical era. Anderson, however, suggests that it is not until the late sixth century that we see the first systematic attempts…


Athens

By Bruce Clark,

Book cover of Athens: City of Wisdom

Athens is where I lived as a student in the 1970s, and I’ve loved the place ever since! People who visit Greece often miss out on the capital or find the modern city ugly and noisy. But this book explains the magic effect that Athens has exercised on natives and visitors for at least two thousand years – all the way from the legendary wisdom of Solon the lawgiver to the gritty problems of a decade of enforced austerity (only recently overcome), and of a new multi-culturalism that comes with mass migration across Europe’s front line into Greece.

Athens

By Bruce Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Athens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping narrative history of Athens, telling the three-thousand-year story of the birthplace of Western civilization.

Even on the most smog-bound of days, the rocky outcrop on which the Acropolis stands is visible above the sprawling roof-scape of the Greek capital. Athens presents one of the most recognizable and symbolically potent panoramas of any of the world's cities: the pillars and pediments of the Parthenon – the temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, that crowns the Acropolis – dominate a city whose name is synonymous for many with civilization itself.

It is hard not to feel the hand of…


Guide to Greece

By Pausanius, Peter Levi (translator),

Book cover of Guide to Greece: Volume 1

A brilliant 2nd century AD guidebook to Ancient Greece! The intrepid Pausanias travelled throughout Greece, recording the sights and the artworks that he viewed on the way, and relating the strange myths, rituals, and legends behind them. It’s a splendidly vivid and remarkably accurate book, full of fascinating information about the Greek landscape, natural wonders, and descriptions of the art and architecture of many famous sacred locations—Athens, Olympia, Delphi, etc.—and even today you can still visit many of the major archaeological sites in Greece and use it to guide you around. In Peter Levi’s clear translation, it really takes you into the heart and soul of Ancient Greece.

Guide to Greece

By Pausanius, Peter Levi (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Guide to Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written in the second century AD by a Greek traveller for a predominantly Roman audience, Pausanias' Guide to Greece is an extraordinarily literate and well-informed guidebook. A study of buildings, traditions and myth, it describes with precision and eloquence the glory of classical Greece shortly before its ultimate decline in the third century. This volume, the first of two, concerns the five provinces of central Greece, with an account of cities including Athens, Corinth and Thebes and a compelling depiction of the Oracle at Delphi. Along the way, Pausanias recounts Greek legends that are unknown from any other source and…


Glory and the Lightning

By Taylor Caldwell,

Book cover of Glory and the Lightning: A Novel of Ancient Greece

I read this years ago; it's one of the reasons I began writing historical romance novels. It's the story of Aspasia, a woman in ancient Greece. She's educated in a selective school for courtesans, beautiful, groomed for pleasure, and bought by a Persian man who comes seeking a courtesan from this famous establishment. He takes Aspasia back to Persia. Eventually, she is freed and returns to Athens, where she meets Pericles. Inspired in part by his love of Aspasia, Pericles initiated the building of the famous Acropolis in ancient Greece. 

I was fortunate to visit Athens after reading Glory and the Lightning, and standing on the Acropolis, I found myself thinking of Pericles and Aspasia, real people who lived and loved over 2,000 years ago. (And yes, I may have gotten a lump in my throat and one or two tears threatened.)

Glory and the Lightning

By Taylor Caldwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glory and the Lightning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller: A breathtaking saga of ancient Greece and one of history's most influential political couples, Aspasia and Pericles.

Born in the Greek city of Miletus, Aspasia was destined for a life of tragedy. Her wealthy father vowed to abandon any female child, so Aspasia was secreted away, educated independently of her family, and raised as a courtesan. She discovered at an early age how to use her powers of intellect as ingeniously as those of the flesh.

Ensconced in the Persian harems of Al Taliph, she meets the man who will change her fate: Pericles, the formidable…


Democracy

By Paul Cartledge,

Book cover of Democracy: A Life

It’s impossible to enter the mindset of the ancient Greeks without understanding that democracy runs deeply in their cultural bloodstream. There are numerous books on the subject – I did a course called Athenian Democracy: An Experiment for the Ages for The Great Courses – but Cartledge’s book, as the title suggests, offers a biography from its beginnings down to the present day. It also provides a nuanced exploration of the connection between Greek politics and society. Democracy: A Life depicts democracy not as a theoretical model but at work, and, in the challenges it faces today, a work in progress. Get A Life!

Democracy

By Paul Cartledge,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Democracy is either aspired to as a goal or cherished as a birthright by billions of people throughout the world today - and has been been for over a century. But what does it mean? And how has its meaning changed since it was first coined in ancient Greece?

Democracy: A Life is a biography of the concept, looking at its many different manifestations and showing how it has changed over its long life, from ancient times right through to the present. For instance, how did the 'people power' of the Athenians emerge in the first place? Once it had…


The Peloponnesian War

By Thucydides, P.J. Rhodes, Martin Hammond (translator)

Book cover of The Peloponnesian War

Written around twenty-five centuries ago, this remains the seminal work of history, political science, man as he is, war, and diplomacy. The author expressly intended that it be “a work for all time,” and so it remains. Moreover, it serves still as an example of a civilization ruining itself, as Europe did in the Great War. Thus, it continues to warn.

The Peloponnesian War

By Thucydides, P.J. Rhodes, Martin Hammond (translator)

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Peloponnesian War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The greatest historian that ever lived'

Such was Macaulay's verdict on Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) and his history of the Peloponnesian War, the momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems that lasted for twenty-seven years from 431 to 404 BC, involved virtually the whole of the Greek world, and ended in the fall of Athens. Thucydides himself was a participant in the war; to his history he brings an awesome intellect, brilliant narrative, and penetrating analysis of the nature
of power, as it affects both states and individuals.

Of his own work Thucydides wrote: 'I…


The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Book cover of The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece

Roberts’ groundbreaking, game-changing story of the Peloponnesian War (really, wars) is richly detailed and comprehensive, a modernizing “leveling up” from Donald Kagan’s 2004 standard text. By centering her narrative in the impact of the war, rather than strategy and politics, Roberts brings home the terrible human cost of the conflict, and the book serves as a critical examination of what wholesale violence means to a society, from the high to the low. Roberts writes with incredible empathy, and her voice makes the book more than enlightening, it’s a deeply moving mediation on the depths of self-inflicted suffering as only human beings can engender. 

The Plague of War

By Jennifer T. Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Plague of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states of Athens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than a generation the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. The war embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butchery previously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities were exterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved. While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the capture of the Athenian
navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation of Athens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades. Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian…


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