Tag: Ancient Greece

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Bettany Hughes, award-winning historian, BBC broadcaster, and author of the best-selling books Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore; The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life; and Venus and Aphrodite: History of a Goddess.

Prof. Hughes shares insights from her most recent book about the ancient deity known as Venus to Romans and Aphrodite to the Greeks, and her impact on our understanding of the mythology and history of beauty, romance, and passion. She discusses Aphrodite’s mythical role in sparking the Trojan War, portrayals of her across Western culture, and enduring lessons. They then turn to the ancient Greeks’ contributions to the foundations of Western philosophy, poetry, and government, and why studying classics, including figures like Socrates, is vital for education in the 21st century. And they explore the timeless wisdom and cautionary lessons all of us can draw from studying ancient Athenian democracy, Sparta, and the civic life of Greek city-states, the West’s earliest models of self-government. She concludes with a reading from her book, Venus and Aphrodite.

Fighting On Despite Desperate Odds

 

Why do men fight, and why are willing they willing to continue to fight to the last man, preferring death to surrender? T. E. Lawrence’s said men go to war “because the women were watching.” According to Michael Walsh, in his new book, Lawrence’s answer holds more truth than irony. Men fight for their families.

“Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All is Lost,” by Michael Walsh, investigates the last man phenomena. It explores why men fight, and why they are willing to continue fighting even when they know they will lose.

Walsh examines history through the lens of combat, starting with the Ancient Greek Battle of Thermopylae and continuing through the Marine retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in the Twentieth Century. In thirteen chapters he explores sixteen last-stand battles.  Some, including Thermopylae, Masada, and the Alamo, the defenders lost and dying almost to the last man. In others, like Rorke’s Drift and the Battle of Pavlov’s House at Stalingrad, defenders triumphed against terrible odds.

A War Easier to Start than End

 

Professor Paul Rahe, of Hillsdale College, is writing a multi-volume study of Sparta’s grand strategy during the Fifth Century BC. The first book “The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge” looked at Sparta during the Persian War.

“Sparta’s Second Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 446-418 B. C,” by Paul A. Rahe continues his study of the Peloponnesian Wars. The third volume in the series, it examines the second phase of the war between Sparta and Athens, fought between 431 and 421 BC.

The book picks up where his previous volume, Sparta’s First Attic War leaves off, in 446 BC. It covers more than the active phases of the war. Rahe examines the build-up to the active war and its immediate aftermath, including Sparta’s victorious war with Argos and her allies in 418 BC.

Boris Johnson Speaks, and It Isn’t All Greek to Me

 

On Christmas Eve, Powerline Blog pointed to Boris Johnson reciting a long passage from the Iliad, in ancient Greek, not as a schoolboy might, but as the great storyteller. This should not have been much of a surprise, given other appearances over the past few years by the man who is now Prime Minister. What follows is a Boris Johnson starter sampler.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson turned to reciting the Iliad in the course of a conversation with the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Annabel Crabb at the Melbourne Writers Festival this past July.

Rahe’s ‘Sparta’s First Attic War’ Provides a Clear Account of a Neglected Period of History

 

Today, few are aware of the 70-year struggle between Athens and Sparta, known collectively as the Peloponnesian Wars. Neglected in today’s history classes, most people who know of it largely recall the last phase of the war, where Sparta conquered Athens.

Sparta’s First Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 478-446 B.C., by Paul A. Rahe, examines the period leading up to that phase of the Peloponnesian Wars. It examines the period when Sparta and Athens moved from allies to rivals, and finally to enemies.

The book follows the 34-year period between the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece and the start of the five-year truce ending the first war between Sparta and Athens. Rahe traces the events of that period. These include the decline of Persia’s seapower and Athens’s subsequent growth as a naval and economic power.

Victor Davis Hanson takes listeners on a behind-the-scenes look at his career, including his rise through academia, the decline of military history as a scholarly discipline, the importance of visiting battlefields, and why he felt compelled to write a new book on World War II.

Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Book Review Exploring the connection between culture, politics Posted: Saturday, November 5, 2016 […]

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