The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

Book - 2015
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"Lord Byron described Greece as great, fallen, and immortal, a characterization more apt than he knew. Through most of its long history, Greece was poor. But in the classical era, Greece was densely populated and highly urbanized. Many surprisingly healthy Greeks lived in remarkably big houses and worked for high wages at specialized occupations. Middle-class spending drove sustained economic growth. Classical wealth produced a stunning cultural efflorescence lasting hundreds of years. Why did Greece reach such heights in the classical period--and why only then? And how, after 'the Greek miracle' had endured for centuries, did the Macedonians defeat the Greeks, seemingly bringing an end to their glory? Drawing on a massive body of newly available data and employing novel approaches to evidence, Josiah Ober offers a major new history of classical Greece and an unprecedented account of its rise and fall. Ober argues that Greece's rise was no miracle but rather the result of political breakthroughs and economic development. The extraordinary emergence of citizen-centered city-states transformed Greece into a society that defeated the mighty Persian Empire. Yet Philip and Alexander of Macedon were able to beat the Greeks in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE, a victory enabled by the Macedonians' appropriation of Greek innovations. After Alexander's death, battle-hardened warlords fought ruthlessly over the remnants of his empire. But Greek cities remained populous and wealthy, their economy and culture surviving to be passed on to the Romans--and to us. A compelling narrative filled with uncanny modern parallels, this is a book for anyone interested in how great civilizations are born and die. This book is based on evidence available on a new interactive website. To learn more, please visit:"--
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2015
ISBN: 9780691140919
Branch Call Number: 938 Ob22R 2015
Characteristics: xxv, 416 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

From a hard-scrabble beginning in an unpromising landscape, the Greeks created a significant civilization with roots to our own culture, defeating the mighty Persian Empire, and yet were swept away by the semi-barbarous Macedonians of Alexander and his father, as told in a narrative based on rece... Read More »

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Mar 22, 2019

Do writers with impossibly opaque prose styles deliberately bury their meaning for the sake of disguising their poverty of ideas? This book was rendered so unreadably that I could not be tempted to give its purported insights fair trial. Lightly shaking and sniffing it, we seem to have a collection of statistics and literary evidence that associates political democracy with economic prosperity. Ober admits that prosperity continued after democracy’s decline, but doesn’t seem to draw lessons from that. He just seems to be boosting capitalism for whatever reason. It’s true as he says in the preface that nobody would prefer poverty to prosperity (just as no one who was used to democracy would be comfortable in a totalitarian state). My view of things is that no one who possessed humanity in the first place would swap it for wealth. See how you can prove anything?
While the reasons for Hellas’ unique development are murky, we know all about its decline. Ober is pretty sure he has something new to say. My objections force me to condemn this book without reading it.

Mar 04, 2019

Available in UNC but not in public library.


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