‘Wonderful and timely … Hugely recommended’ STEPHEN FRY
What do you and an ancient philosopher have in common? It turns out much more than you might think…
Aristotle was an extraordinary thinker, perhaps the greatest in history. Yet he was preoccupied by an ordinary question: how to be happy. His deepest belief was that we can all be happy in a meaningful, sustained way – and he led by example.
In this handbook to his timeless teachings, Professor Edith Hall shows how ancient thinking is precisely what we need today, even if you don’t know your Odyssey from your Iliad. In ten practical lessons we come to understand more about our own characters and how to make good decisions. We learn how to do well in an interview, how to choose a partner and life-long friends, and how to face death or bereavement.
Life deals the same challenges – in Ancient Greece or the modern world. Aristotle’s way is not to apply rules – it’s about engaging with the texture of existence, and striding purposefully towards a life well lived.
This is advice that won’t go out of fashion.
They gave us democracy, philosophy, poetry, rational science, the joke. They built the Parthenon and the Library of Alexandria. They wrote the timeless myths of Odysseus and Oedipus, and the histories of Leonidas’s three hundred Spartans and Alexander the Great.
But who were the ancient Greeks? And what was it that enabled them to achieve so much?
Here, Edith Hall gives us a revelatory way of viewing this geographically scattered people, visiting different communities at various key moments during twenty centuries of ancient history.
Identifying ten unique traits central to the widespread ancient Greeks, Hall unveils a civilization of incomparable richness and a people of astounding complexity – and explains how they made us who we are today.
‘A thoroughly readable and illuminating account of this fascinating people… This excellent book makes us admire and like the ancient Greeks equally’
‘A worthy and lively introduction to one of the two groups of ancient peoples who really formed the western world’
‘Throughout, Hall exemplifies her subjects’ spirit of inquiry, their originality and their open-mindedness’
‘A book that is both erudite and splendidly entertaining’
Who were the ancient Greeks? They gave us democracy, philosophy, poetry, rational science, the joke. But what was it that enabled them to achieve so much?
The ancient Greeks were a geographically disparate people whose civilization lasted over twenty centuries – and that made us who we are today. And here Edith Hall gives us a revelatory way of viewing this scattered people, identifying ten unique personality traits that she shows to be unique and central to the widespread ancient Greeks.
Hall introduces a people who are inquisitive, articulate and open-minded but also rebellious, individualistic, competitive and hedonistic. They prize excellence above all things but love to laugh. And, central to their identity, they are seafarers whose relationship with the sea underpins every aspect of their society.
Expertly researched and elegantly told, this indispensable introduction unveils a civilization of incomparable richness and a people of astounding complexity.
Edith Hall first encountered Aristotle when she was twenty, and he changed her life forever. Now one of Britain's foremost classicists, and a Professor at King's College London, she is the first woman to have won the Erasmus Medal of the European Academy. In 2017 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Athens University, just a few streets away from Aristotle's own Lyceum.
She is the author of several books, including Introducing the Ancient Greeks. She lives with her family in Cambridgeshire.