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The Greek Way

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,202 ratings  ·  81 reviews
"Five hundred years before Christ in a little town on the far western border of the settled and civilizaed world, a strange new power was at work. . . . Athens had entered upon her brief and magnificent flowering of genius which so molded the world of mind and of spirit that our mind and spirit today are different. . . . What was then produced of art and of thought has nev ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1930)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,675)
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Cheryl Kennedy
This is a re-read of the Edith Hamilton's classic writing on ancient Greece. The author contests the classification of the Greeks in the ancient world only, for they did not ultimately have the same conditions as Egypt, Crete and Mesopotamia.

The Greeks forged their own way, what became our Western way of rational thought and the integration of the idea of the individual. The Greek mind was balanced between the outside world and the internal world of each citizen.

The great spiritual forces were
...more
J.G. Keely
In the late Victorian, an eighteen-year-old Edith Hamilton graduated from Bryn Mawr College. Enraptured by the spirit of Classical Antiquity, she did what any academic would and traveled to the center of Greek and Roman studies, Germany, to continue her education. She was the first woman to attend classes in these great European colleges, though she could not pursue a degree, instead she had to audit, watching lectures from s specially-built booth that screened her from the view of her classmate ...more
max
Aug 21, 2014 max rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: greek
The disdain of professional classicists for Edith Hamilton is understandable but nevertheless unfair, since she never held herself out as a learned scholar or textual critic. Instead, she simply took a great interest in communicating to a broader audience (i.e. the masses) what it was that made Greek civilization worthy of our attention. Hamilton was one of those enthusiasts who was simply in love with the Greeks, and that affection is evident on every page.

She was, in short, a "popularizer," an
...more
Evan
Edith Hamilton's prose reads like a disjointed and stilted school-boy translation of ancient greek. Plus, she's a snob and a hyperbolist. Her books should be put on the trash heap with all the other Victorian bombasts.

If you want to learn why to love the ancients, go read a novel by Mary Renault.
Steven Sills
I finished it months ago, but skimming over it to write my research project. Hamilton is a classicist rather than a historian, although historians of Ancient Greece tend to be as familiar with Aeschylus as they are Thucydides. Hamilton does know her history, but is rather bold if not reckless in her ideas which would probably get a more circumspect response from a true historian. The Athenians were the only civilization up to that time who loved life, she says. All other civilizations, she says, ...more
Rick Davis
Chapters 5-14 of The Greek Way are excellent. Edith Hamilton is at her best when sketching biographies of specific people. She makes historical figures come alive as real humans by examining their writings as well as anecdotes told about them by their contemporaries. One high point for me was the story of Socrates drinking everyone else under the table at the dinner party, and of him being ribbed by his companions about his shrewish wife. Such moments make this book worthwhile for any student of ...more
Austin Burbridge
I have been re-reading this, for the first time since high school. It remains a splendid book. Hard to imagine what could be better for the purpose of introducing the achievements of classical Greece to modern readers. The author treats her subject with the clarity and brevity that comes from mastery. She explains to the reader what was singular about the Greeks, and why it continues to matter to this day.

When I had read it in high school, I had not favored it as much as I had H. D. F. Kitto’s T
...more
Aaron Terrazas
Although it's sixty years old, this masterful little book brings ancient Greece to life and connects the core issues and questions that drove their lives to the issues and questions any thinking person struggles with today. Hamilton masterfully integrates a long view of the ebb and flow of human thought with the specifics that drive us making each period unique. She describes how in ancient Greece, for the first time in history, man was sufficiently secure to let go of the day to day concerns su ...more
Mark
Edith Hamilton's The Greek Way is essentially a long opinion piece on why the ancient Greeks matter in the modern world. Ms. Hamilton would assert that in many ways those ancient Greeks are better than their modern counterparts. To be fair she is only using the briefest of moments, Periclean Athens as her metric, but you get some heavy hitters in this flash of classical glory: Socrates, Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, Aristophanes. This is kind of ...more
R.a.
Alas, an old and decrepit copy!

Simply, a treatise on the greatness of the Ancient Greeks. From this statement, Hamilton then proceeds to show the reader why we can say "great."

She traces each "big" writer: Aeschylus, Herodutus, Plato, etc. and sets up a comparative with each. Aeschylus with the other dramatists; Herodutus with Thucydides and Xenophon, etc.

But, the two most powerful arguments, I think, come at the beginning and the end: the first setting in relief the difference between thinking
...more
Jake Lentz
Aug 29, 2007 Jake Lentz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: iamgratefulfor
My current favorite book; brilliantly presented, truthful, braod, and just the right amount of justified snobbery on behalf of the Greeks. Changed my life and how i think about the world.
Christa
Feb 19, 2011 Christa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: interested in history, interested in Bible history, interested in literature
Shelves: history
I picked up this book to read with background books on Greece, not realizing that it is not really a history book, but rather a general commentary on Classical Athenian culture. As such, it was a great reference, summarizing and putting into a modern context ancient philosophers,authors, politicians, and historians. The chapter on Herodotus was especially interesting to me! I found Mz. Hamilton's writing to be easy to read and, at times, amusing, and always informative.

The only negative comments
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Phillip Kay
"Little is left of all this wealth of great art: the sculptures, defaced and broken into bits, have crumbled away; the buildings are fallen; the paintings gone forever; of the writings, all lost but a very few. We have only the ruin of what was; the world has had no more than that for well on for two thousand years; yet these few remains of the mighty structure have been a challenge and an incitement to men ever since and they are among our possessions today which we value as most precious.” A p ...more
Ben
There is something fascinating about scholarship produced in an era different from our own. What can sometimes appear to be a monolithic genre is, in fact, as susceptible to the vagaries of human opinion as anything else we humans create. Take, for example, the controlled diatribe against the culture of "the East" with which Hamilton begins this book. In order to draw out the extraordinary nature of the so-called Greek Miracle, Hamilton amalgamates all the Asian cultures west of China and ascri ...more
John
Listened to this as an audiobook, which made it harder to take notes, but I found it interesting enough that I took notes anyway. I don't have time to write a full review, but I found the book fascinating for the way that it encapsulated the legacy of the Greeks (especially the Athenians)--I had gleaned most of the pieces haphazardly over the years, but this book brought it all together. Likewise, I was struck, not for the first time but strongly, by how alien the ancient world is to the modern. ...more
Jen
This book was lost on me in college and I'm so glad I found a copy recently.

Miss Hamilton is a wonderful teacher and this is a fantastic readers' companion to the Greek greats. She differentiates between the tragedians so successfully that this should be required reading for all directing students. I humbly disagree with her opening thesis on ancient Greek motivations and values, which are, I think, overly influenced by the two World Wars she lived through and her deep knowledge of the Bible, b
...more
Justin Tapp
This is an overview of Greek development of philosophy, the arts, and religion as well as a contrast with other cultures on earth during the classical Greek period and modern cultures. Hamilton chronicles the history of some of the major Greek philosophers and playwrights circa 5 B.C. and explains what their work says about Greek attitude toward reason, freedom, the individual, and society.

This book is apparently a classic first written in the 1930s and assigned in many high school and college c
...more
Philipp
A love letter to Greece and Greek thought, you can really feel how much Hamilton was in love with Greek. To her, the Greeks were the first to bring "light" into the darkness of a world ruled by darkness and magic, in the form of rational thought. The Greeks were the first to play - she compares them to the Egyptians, to whom life was just suffering. Their statues, their architecture, their poetry and writing was reduced down to the barest possible; if you've said it as precise as possible, then ...more
Mike
This is about ancient Greece. All I wanted to know and forgot about philosophers, artists and the Greek contributions still enjoyed today. Interesting and uncomplicated for example the word 'character' is Greek. To us the word character indicates individual uniqueness, for the Greeks it meant individual integration to society. The book has many of the philosophers long forgotten, yet brought back with vividness and ease........
Annie
What a load of ridiculous crap. I knew it was going to be bad within the first few pages, but I grit my teeth and told myself I would stick it out until I got to page 100, and then I could cast it aside. Well, cast it aside I did, and with immense relief.

To begin, I was actually looking more for some Greek history (and not just a lengthy opinion piece waxing poetic about how totally awesome the Greeks were, which is what this book was), given that I had just taken an art history class which spen
...more
Nicholas Heller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Marble
I wish I had read this book long ago. It is indeed brilliant.
Lynn Welden
This is a classic. And for a reason. I recommend it highly.
Paul
This is the sort of book that fell upon hard times with the increasing specialization of the humanities that really got rolling in the Sixties, as Boomers started entering graduate schools in massive numbers.

At this point, I imagine that Hamilton would probably rate just above the Will & Ariel Durants of the world in terms of scholarly esteem - I can't imagine that classicists have much positive to say about her. And it would be foolish to doubt that her writing isn't replete with errors an
...more
Michael
This is not a work of history or research, but rather one of opinion. Hamilton is more interested in communicating pet theory here, than fact. However it would be a mistake to dismiss her as dilettante or romantic.

It's obvious from the first page that she is intimately familiar with her source material and fully capable of a purely scholarly work. Her purpose here is different though, focusing more on the abstract "Why" rather than the concrete "where, when and what".

Why were the Greeks so diff
...more
Beluosus
Heu heu! Tot argumentis Edithae dissentio ut quartum post caput librum seposui. Nimis in Aegyptios dicit, et nimis Graecos laudat -- ambo ut stereotypos. Nam, Aegyptum annos ante Helladem amabam. Hieroglyphos enim sescenties melius quam scripta Graeca lego. Sic puto -- ne propter amorem sed propter intellectum -- illam notiones et fidem Aegyptica nequaquam intellegere. Philosophiam autem et historiam Graecam haud ignoro. Puto illam nimis Rationis amatorem. Ubique victoriam Rationis super spiritu ...more
Trina
Dare I say dull & boring? I brought this with me to Greece, thinking I'd brush up on all things Greek whilst traipsing about admiring the ruins and pondering the gods who inspired them... Instead, I find myself yawning every time I pick up this book. It seems ironic she should idealize the Greek way of writing (plays, histories, poetry) yet fall short of the mark herself. There may be great truth in here but little of beauty.
Carol
I first read this as a young girl completely besotted with Greek mythology. I read it again when I took the Coursera course on Greek mythology 50 years later. It will enlighten your reading and understanding of mythology and the many plays and books based on Greek myths -- just about everything in the Western canon.
Frederik
Excellente introduction aux pensées des hommes sages d'Athènes 500 B.C. Le livre a aidé Robert Kennedy après la mort de son frère et été la source d'inspiration de la majorité de ses discours politiques. Et hélas, c'est dans le livre que j'ai appris ce que signifie le mot idiot: quelqu'un qui ne participe pas dans la vie publique!!
Poiema
Great book---but didn't finish simply because some chapters interested me more than others. It was a book I used as teacher preparation for our homeschool study of ancient Greece. It is most helpful in helping to see the "big picture" and how the Greeks think. Edith Hamilton argues that they should not be categorized along with the other ancient cultures, even though that is where they fit in chronology. They were the first modern thinkers, with a curiosity that drove them to make sense of the n ...more
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Edith Hamilton, an educator, writer and a historian, was born August 12, 1867 in Dresden, Germany, of American parents and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.A. Her father began teaching her Latin when she was seven years old and soon added Greek, French and German to her curriculum. Hamilton's education continued at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and at Bryn Mawr College near Ph ...more
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“When conditions are such that life offers no earthly hope, somewhere somehow, men must find refuge. Then they fly from the terror without to the citadel within, which famine and pestilence and fire and sword cannot shake. What Goethe calls the inner universe, can live by its own laws, create its own security, be sufficient unto itself, when once reality is denied to the turmoil of the world without.” 7 likes
“Egypt is a fertile valley of rich river soil, low-lying, warm, monotonous, a slow-flowing river, and beyond the limitless desert. Greece is a country of sparse fertility and keen, cold winters, all hills and mountains sharp cut in stone, where strong men must work hard to get their bread. And while Egypt submitted and suffered and turned her face toward death, Greece resisted and rejoiced and turned full-face to life. For somewhere among those steep stone mountains, in little sheltered valleys where the great hills were ramparts to defend, and men could have security for peace and happy living, something quite new came into the world: the joy of life found expression. Perhaps it was born there, among the shepherds pasturing their flocks where the wild flowers made a glory on the hillside; among the sailors on a sapphire sea washing enchanted islands purple in a luminous air.” 5 likes
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