Who were the Classical Greeks? This book provides an original and challenging answer by exploring how Greeks defined themselves in opposition to a whole series of others as presented by supposedly objective historians of the time such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. Cartledge looks at the achievements and legacy of the Greeks - history, democracy, philosophy and theatre - and the mental and material contexts of these inventions which are often deeply alien to our own way of thinking and acting.
The Renaissance's 'Laughing Philosopher': ourown age's 'prophet of quark' : throughout modern philosophical traditions, Democritushas been a man little known beyond his labels. Yet if the image of the cheerful ironist understates his true seriousness, that of father of modern nuclear physics - though by no means entirely unfounded - loses sight of the man in the hyperbole. Flattering as it is, it fails to do justice either to the full range of Democritus' interests or to the astonishing originality of (...) his ideas as Paul Cartledge makes clear in this enthralling book. (shrink)
The neologism ‘sexist’ has gained entry to an Oxford Dictionary, The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English, third edition , where it is defined as ‘derisive of the female sex and expressive of masculine superiority’. Thus ‘sexpot’ and ‘sex kitten’, which are still defined in exclusively feminine terms in the fifth edition of The Concise Oxford Dictionary , have finally met their lexicographical match. This point about current English usage has of course a serious, and general, application. For language reflects, (...) when it does not direct, prevailing social conceptions. Thus it is not accidental that there is no masculine counterpart to the word ‘feminism’. ‘Male chauvinism’, the nearest we have come to coining one, is more emotive than descriptive and so involves ambiguity; while ‘sexism’, even when it is given an exclusively masculine connotation, is still, formally, sexually neutral. ‘Feminism’, by contrast, unequivocally denotes the striving to raise women to an equality of rights and status with men. It has been suggested, it is true, that there were inchoate feminist movements or tendencies in the ancient Greek world, for example in the Classical Athens of Aristophanes and Plato . But feminism in the modern sense did not really emerge before the eighteenth century; and in Britain, for instance, it was only with the passage in 1975 of the Employment Protection, Equal Pay and Sex Discrimination Acts that women raised themselves on to an all but equal footing with their male fellows — at any rate in the technical, juridical sense. (shrink)
The relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States seems to embody most fully the type of the ‘special relationship’ today. It is a relationship founded ultimately on biological kinship, structured by mutual economic and strategic interests and cemented by a sense of political and ‘spiritual’ affinity. At least the broad contours of such contemporary ‘special relationships’ are sufficiently clear. This is far from being the case with those of the Archaic and Classical Greek world, for two main reasons. (...) First, and more decisively, our sources for the history of that world – literary, epigraphical, archaeological – are normally scrappy, discontinuous and variously slanted. Second, and only in part because of the nature of the evidence, the workings of all ancient Greek interstate relationships, whether ‘special’ or not, are in principle controversial. For in the absence of governments and parties in the modern sense it is frequently impossible to explain confidently a particular foreign policy decision taken by a Greek state. A fortiori it is in principle even more difficult to describe and account for ‘special’ relationships between states that apparently transcended purely immediate, local and narrowly self-interested considerations. (shrink)