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Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  74 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
This lively and engaging book is the only popular work to explore the profound impact of Ancient Greece and Rome on the founding fathers. Recounting the stirring stories the founders encountered in their favorite histories of Greece and Rome, renowned scholar Carl J. Richard explores what they learned from these vivid tales and how they applied these lessons to their own h ...more
Hardcover, 203 pages
Published March 13th 2008 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Steven Peterson
The author begins by saying (Page ix): ". . .[T]he tales of Greece and Rome. . .were the tales that inspired the founders to rebel against the mother country and stablish a republic they hoped would one day rival those of Greece and Rome." That is the thesis of this book: That Greek and Roman practice with democracy was a major influence on the Founders of the American Republic. The presentation is literate and the arguments make sense. But the story is overstated considerably. To claim, as in t ...more
Nathan Albright
Jan 26, 2016 Nathan Albright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
This is, admittedly and avowedly, a book of midbrow popular history for those who are interested in the Founding Fathers and who are interested in knowing the inspiration that our nation's founders found in the classical Greeks and Romans. Although this is a task that is not unfamiliar to those who have read about these men, who made their love of republican Rome in particular very obvious [1], this book does a good job of distilling the Greek and Roman influence on the Founding Fathers in a way ...more
Adam Carman
Mar 11, 2014 Adam Carman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting book. It was fun catching up with Greek and Roman history--not my strong suit. Richard shares the stories our Founders knew, as well as the more historically accurate accounts.

"As long as human society exists, there will be a need for stories. The only question is whether the stories provided will be rich enough and inspirational enough to serve societal needs. Perhaps it is now time for the American public not only to return to the founders--to explore the totality of their l
...more
Erica
Feb 27, 2015 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Useful, concise account of how early national leaders read and utilized Greek and Roman works. Crucial for understanding the worldview of 18th and 19th century Americans. I appreciated the straight-forward presentation of items of Greek and Roman history, how the Founders analyzed them (accurately and inaccurately), as well as the the application of those ideas within the US (in sections at the end of each chapter called "The Lesson").

Best quotes:
"The Founding Fathers encountered most of these
...more
Ro Cepellos
Dec 14, 2008 Ro Cepellos rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This book proves the age-old adage: Learn from history, or you will be doomed to repeat it. The structure of the book demonstrates just how useful it can be to diligently study history (in the case of the military strategies surrounding the American Revolution) and also how profoundly the great men and women in history influence the minds of future history-makers.

Each chapter focuses on a particular lesson the Founding Fathers learned from the Greeks and Romans and begins with a brief review of
...more
Dale
Jul 20, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book even though it was not quite what I thought it was

So, if it was not quite what I thought it was, what is it?

Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers is a very succinct, well-written and entertaining history of the Ancient Greeks and the Romans with a little commentary at the end of each section about how these histories influenced the Founding Fathers. For example, he has seven pages on a history of the Spartans (probably the best short expl
...more
Rob
Oct 23, 2015 Rob rated it it was amazing
If you are like me, you've always been told that the Founding Fathers were inspired by a system of self-government by the ancient histories of the Romans and the Greeks. If you are also like me, you have been surprised by the lack of books available on this topic. Dr. Richard has filled that gap with this wonderful work. Each chapter takes you through the major eras of of Roman and Greek history, as told by their contemporaries (e.g., Cicero, Demosthenes, Polybius). This is followed by a descrip ...more
Eric
Jan 23, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
It's like the author asked me what type of book I would most want to read and then wrote it. This work combines two of my favorite subjects to read about, ancient Greco-Roman civilization and the Founding Fathers (with a little bit about classic university education thrown in for good measure). If you are at all interested in these two subject then I highly recommend this book. It explains some of what made the Founders paranoid-schizos and provides some depth to the context of the Federalist/An ...more
Oswald
Oct 20, 2008 Oswald rated it liked it
This book really didn't teach me anything new. I recommend, however, to read the "The Lesson" section of each chapter, which is at the end of the every chapter. This section entails the book's purpose: an explanation of how the Greeks and Romans influenced the Founding Fathers. I recommend doing that if you already know the basic history of Ancient Greece and Rome. If you don't, then read the entire book so that you can grasp the message.

I did almost die of laughter when I read the discriptions
...more
Matt
Apr 06, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing
The first part of each chapter is an overview of a part of Greek or Roman history. If you are already familiar with these subjects, you won't find much here. What is worthwhile for any reader is Richard's exploration of how the Founders views of government were informed by each historical topic. He critiques the reliability of each ancient source, but points out that regardless of what we now know about them, the stories in those sources were influential on our culture and government.
Anna
Oct 01, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this book for my European History class on the Greeks and Romans. I've found the book to be very entertaining and informative. I don't feel like the author is dumbing it down but more like he is just sitting across from me and we're having a conversation. There are also humorous parts in it. I have found myself laughing out loud at how the author describes certain things.
Colin
An excellent introduction to the topic of what lessons the Founders learned from the Classics, a topic dear to me . . . I must admit that I myself learned very little from this particular book (since I've already read elsewhere almost all of the stories told herein), but I do rather wish I could require that all my students read it!
Katie
Jul 25, 2014 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 1776
Insightful but not original; I'd heard the vast majority of the insights before. 90% of each chapter was descriptive, with a bit of analysis at the end, a format that I found boring. I can understand why Dr. Spinney assigned for the freshmen, but I didn't finish it.
Bob
Feb 05, 2009 Bob rated it liked it
Another interesting read filling in a gap in my education about history. The popular canon of common literature sure has changed in the past 250 years. Our education system completely overlooks this source of influence on our founding fathers.
Theresa Ramseyer
Oct 20, 2011 Theresa Ramseyer rated it really liked it
I enjoyed seeing how the Founding Fathers interpreted the Greek and Roman classics, and what they borrowed and didn't borrow. Very interesting book.
Kristie
Apr 29, 2010 Kristie rated it it was amazing
So much more than any history class ever taught me. It teachs so much about politics too, very good read.
Shiloh
Aug 06, 2016 Shiloh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good connection between the ancient Greeks and Romans and the founding fathers of our country.
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