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Ancient Greek History - Audio

By Donald Kagan

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(CLCV 205) This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars. This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

Customer Reviews


This is a really interesting set of lectures presented in a clear and engaging way. Good scholarship without being pedantic. Very enjoyable.

Fantastic overview course of Ancient Greece

This is a podcast which will remain relevant forever, due to its subject matter and the authority of its presenter, Donald Kagan, who is probably one of the most authoritative authors on the Peloponnesian War since Thucydides.

I take minor issue to his lack of willingness to discuss more probable explanations of the early Greeks; for instance, he doesn’t discuss the idea that the Spartans were not Dorians and invaded Achaean Greece from Asia Minor, Asia he is only going to discuss facts. He admits that there are other prevailing theories but makes no mention of this, instead saying very assertively that they *eventually* were Dorians. Not helpful if someone is learning this for the first time. Most of the information on the Dark Ages of Greece isn’t a sure thing, so it is necessary to explain the hypotheses more broadly.

Also hardly any mention of Tiryns or Heracles. This is important information that allows a better understanding of Bronze Age Greece and the Mycenaean period more broadly. Who were these people and where did they go? Who were the later Greeks? All of these deliberations are important to understanding how Greece progressed from its initial settlement to the classical period and the eventual Hellenistic world.

He also doesn’t do an incredibly good job of explaining the rise of Macedonia. Due to his own scholarly pursuits, he clearly places an emphasis on the classical period and the Peloponnesian War and relates less specific historical information regarding Alexander and Philip. Instead he moralizes about their actions in a 20th century context when covering these topics, which is unhelpful for someone attempting to simply learn the history.

Despite these specific shortcomings, the overall information he does present in this series is excellent, and he truly has a vast and enviable understanding of the ancient Greek world. We are lucky to have these lectures, as the institution of classical education is dying off. Independently inquisitive people will continue to return to the classics for inspiration and understanding about ourselves, which makes Kagan’s lectures that much more valuable and treasured.

Fix it in the mix

Or levture with cough drops and some drinking water nearby.