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It's All Greek To Me    by Charlotte Higgins order for
It's All Greek To Me
by Charlotte Higgins
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Those already familiar with ancient Greek culture and the work of the likes of Homer, Herodotus, Aristotle, Plato and Sophocles won't find this book very exciting. On the other hand, anyone who is looking for an introduction to the period and its notable personalities will find It's All Greek To Me to be an excellent resource.

As she explains in the introduction, Higgins intends this book as 'a primer that will give you a helping hand around Greek democracy, or the Persian Wars, or the Parthenon'. She continues to say that it is also 'a book of enthusiasms and pleasures' which will hopefully unlock the richness of Greek literature and philosophy.

Since this is a rather expansive topic, Higgins confines the scope of this very accessible guide to the period spanned by the works of Homer and Hesiod (eighth century BC) to Aristotle (fourth century BC).

In addition to a detailed look at Plato's Republic and The Odyssey and The Iliad by Homer, you'll find material on the beginnings of science (Thales to Aristole), democracy and the polis, and Greek mythology.

One of the most useful sections in this 222 page guide will be found at the end of the book. Here you'll discover a timeline of important events, an excellent map of Greece and the Aegean, a Who's Who arranged alphabetically, a listing of Greek words and expressions that have found their way into English (laconic, thespian, draconian), and some essential Greek quotes such as gnothi seauton (know yourself) and pathei mathos (wisdom comes through suffering).

If you are looking for a readable book to introduce a person to ancient Greek culture or would like a handy reference that touches on some of the ways the ancient Greeks shaped so many aspects of our lives today, you'll want to check out this inexpensive paperback.

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