Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives

Simon Goldhill, Author University of Chicago Press $27.5 (335p) ISBN 978-0-226-30117-4
For Goldhill, the classics are indispensable to an understanding of today's Western culture. Without a knowledge of basic Greek and Roman texts and ideas, our ""buried life"" and ""ancient grounding,"" the modern citizen is lost--a child forever. Goldhill, a professor of Greek culture and literature at Cambridge, organizes his thesis around five questions: Who do you think you are? Where do you think you are going? What do you think should happen? What do you want to do? Where do you think you came from? Time and again, Goldhill reminds us, the brightest thinkers through the ages have turned to the classics for inspiration. In the New World, the founding fathers were steeped in the intellectual material of Greece and Rome. George Washington found inspiration in the story of the Roman emperor Cincinnatus--a farmer who was called to service, defeated an enemy, then laid down his arms and returned to the farm. Goldhill views Victorian England as the high-water mark of classical influence; some 80% of school time in 19th-century Britain was devoted to the classics. On the dark side of classicism is National Socialism: there, Goldhill argues, the ideas of Plato's Republic (with its emphasis on a perfect social order) played out to a calamitous end. With patient authority and a refreshingly light touch, Goldhill brilliantly illuminates the essential timeliness of these ancient ideas.
Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 335 pages - 978-0-226-30119-8
Hardcover - 335 pages - 978-0-7195-5549-7
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