In the mystery religion of Eleusis, a colony of Athens, cult members acted out the rape of Persephone in torchlit ceremonies, while worshippers shouted obscenities and huge models of genitals were displayed to assure the fertility of crops. Classical historian Grant reveals the deep primitive roots of Greek civilization in this wide-ranging survey of the ""archaic'' period (750-480 B.C.). It was a time when 700 scattered city-states, each bent on achieving self-sufficiency, added their distinctive contributions to the melting-pot of Hellenic culture. Organized geographically by settlement, Grant's rewarding history turns up many surprises: for example, he shows that the early Spartans, belying the reputation for brute military strength they later acquired, excelled in poetry, music and ivory carving; Spartan women were treated as equals of men and spared domestic chores; and the Ionian philosopher Anaximenes, who linked the microcosm of the individual self to the cosmos, almost certainly took his ideas from the Upanishads of India. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988 Release date: 01/01/1988 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.