Will Waller's Reviews > Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea by Thomas Cahill
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's review
Oct 25, 11

bookshelves: historical, non-fiction
Read from October 11 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy

Reading Sailing the Wine Dark Sea was a captivating read, primarily driven by travelling through the setting of his book, Greece. Being in a place of the author’s subject provides undue excellance to whatever you are reading. Thus, having returned from Greece now, I believe I can more accurately portray the book as a bit crass and sensationalist because of his incessant conversation around sexuality. I am no expert on Greek life and culture in the ancient world but I find it hard to believe that the Greeks, founders of Western life, were sex crazed. That there worship of Dionysus centered around orgies, I believe, but that they into it with such regularity stikes me as odd and unlikely.

The book as a whole gives a narrative version of history, which is a nice respite from tomes of history as dry as the desert. His writing is funny and conversational. And his knowledge of language is particularly helpful, drawing deeply from the poets and dramatists especially. I think his conversation around the philosophers could be a bit more engaging as it comes across as a bit perfunctory.

Overall I would recommend this book to someone who is not a first timer on Greek life but something of an intermediate in history. It lends itself to furthering one’s search into this culture as it’s a bit too broad to cover anything in particular with much depth, with the exclusion of his continual focus on sexuality.

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