Item description for Classics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Mary Beard & Timothy Bentinck...
We are all classicists--we come into touch with the classics on a daily basis: in our culture, politics, medicine, architecture, language, and literature. What are the true roots of these influences, however, and how do our interpretations of these aspects of the classics differ from their original reality? This introduction to the classics begins with a visit to the British Museum to view the frieze which once decorated the Apollo Temple a Bassae. Through these sculptures John Henderson and Mary Beard prompt us to consider the significance of the study of Classics as a means of discovery and enquiry, its value in terms of literature, philosophy, and culture, its source of imagery, and the reasons for the continuation of these images into and beyond the twentieth century. Designed for the general reader and student alike, A Very Short Introduction to Classics challenges readers to adopt a fresh approach to the Classics as a major cultural influence, both in the ancient world and twentieth-century--emphasizing the continuing need to understand and investigate this enduring subject.
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Format: Abridged, Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 4.75" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Nov 5, 2005
Publisher Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN 9626343451 ISBN13 9789626343456
Availability 0 units.
More About Mary Beard & Timothy Bentinck
Mary Beard and John Henderson both teach Classics at the University of Cambridge. Mary Beard is a fellow of Newnham College, and John Henderson is a fellow of King's College, Cambridge.
Mary Beard was born in 1955 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Cambridge University Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge University U.
Mary Beard has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Classics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?
Interesting, but too apologetic about the Western tradition. May 15, 2005
The term "Classics" refers to the study of Greek and Latin Antiquity, but the authors seem to be vaguely embarrassed and apologetic in a "P.C." kind of way for their interest in this field. If they had deleted Chapter 3, which is a disclaimer of any belief in the "superiority" of the Classical tradition, and if they had avoided sticking the word "classics" in italics at odd places throughout the text, as though we might have forgotten what the book was about, I would have enjoyed it more.
Having said that, they cover an awful lot of ground in surprising depth and in an interesting way in a short few pages. The discussion is organized around the Temple of Bassae, about which they tell us a great deal, using the temple and its history to explain the very complicated relationship between the culture of Ancient Greece and Rome and our own. I have a good though unsystematic familiarity with the Classical world, and I found much that was new and interesting in this book.
The list of further reading is very good, in spite of being a bit "P.C." It is perhaps geared more to the intermediate student than to the complete beginner. The further one delves into the Classical world, the more one realizes just how vast an ocean one has entered, so even this list just scratches the surface.
It's a good read, but I took one star off for unwarranted political correctness.
As an introduction to the Classical world for beginners Edith Hamilton's "The Greek Way" and "The Roman Way" are hard to beat. They were written in pre-"P.C." days, when one didn't have to be coy about extolling the virtues of Western culture and the Classical tradition.
Moses I. Finley's "The Ancient Greeks", though less lyrical than Hamilton's books, is also quite good.
Good, but wish it could be better.... Apr 27, 2005
It's an interesting book, to be sure: especially to most American readers, who consider "the classics" as a field of study to be concerned mostly with the narrow teaching and learning of Latin, Greek, and maybe a little Hebrew or hieroglyphics. Actually, Classics concerns not only these languages, but the culture involved: art, archeological studies, anthropology of the the Mediterranian region (and beyond), linguistics, the history of logic and law, and so forth.
This is illustrated by the changing role of the temple of Apollo at Bassae, from sacred site to shrouded detour for vacationers: we're given a thorough grounding on how even the study of this relatively insignificant spot can involve many disciplines, and many aspects of Classical civilization. Further chapters use related hooks: slavery, entertainment, and the phrase "et in Arcadia ego" (da Vinci Code fans take note), before returning to the original conceit, and a concluding note on the centrality of Classical studies to an appreciation of the Western heritage.
Unfortunately, one is left hanging by the section labeled "Further Reading". I would have expected, and appreciated, some suggestions geared towards the beginner: certainly there is no end of books on the subject, but I'd like to have heard the joint authors' ideas on which one-volume history of Greece or Rome is the clearest and best, how to embark on learning some of the languages involved outside of school, and so on. Instead, I get a straightforward scholarly bibliography of the works quoted, but no idea of how to proceed towards the understanding that would make these works meaningful. It's as if one were to write a book "A Very Short Introduction to Mountaineering", in which one was given a fulsome account of how wonderful it felt to climb Everest, a warm salutation to the reader, an expressed wish that all might attain the peak, and then, just when one is truly excited and primed to add Tibet to their life list of Places to Go, the How to Get Started page carries only a few snaps of Base Camp.
Gradus ad Parnassum indeed. And for this I remove one star.
Otherwise, a pretty good book, and a good start to a study of the Classics, or of the VSI series as a whole.
Concise, entertaining, informative and surprising Oct 27, 1999
Beard and Henderson use as their primary focus - the temple at Bassae - to introduce the wide world of Classics and classical inquiry to the reader. It's a fascinating and enjoyable read. The use of Bassae as the focus of the introduction lends the text a cohesiveness that is so often lacking in introductory Classical works. They show how the discovery of the temple leads one to questions about history, Greek societal structure, morality, Greek cultural norms, the relation of Romans to Greeks (and Egyptians to Greeks), etc. Very very good book. Highly recommended.