Ancient Greece Declassified-logo

Ancient Greece Declassified

History Podcasts >

AGD is the podcast that transports you to the ancient world and back, with some good conversation along the way. It's not just about ancient Greece. It's about a huge chunk of human history that the Greek texts give us access to: from Egypt and Babylon, to Persia, to Carthage and Rome, we'll sail the wine-dark sea of history with some expert guides at the helm. Topics will include archaeology, literature, and philosophy.

AGD is the podcast that transports you to the ancient world and back, with some good conversation along the way. It's not just about ancient Greece. It's about a huge chunk of human history that the Greek texts give us access to: from Egypt and Babylon, to Persia, to Carthage and Rome, we'll sail the wine-dark sea of history with some expert guides at the helm. Topics will include archaeology, literature, and philosophy.
More Information


United States


AGD is the podcast that transports you to the ancient world and back, with some good conversation along the way. It's not just about ancient Greece. It's about a huge chunk of human history that the Greek texts give us access to: from Egypt and Babylon, to Persia, to Carthage and Rome, we'll sail the wine-dark sea of history with some expert guides at the helm. Topics will include archaeology, literature, and philosophy.




24 A History of Inequality w/ Walter Scheidel

We live at a time of increasing economic inequality worldwide. What is driving this trend? And what are the factors that can stabilize or even reduce levels of inequality? Answering this question empirically would require a deep dive into the archives of history. One would have to sift through millennia of economic data across continents and civilizations. Our guest today took on this gargantuan task of writing a “global survey that covers the broad sweep of observable history” regarding...


23 Greek Religion and Its Discontents w/ Barbara Graziosi

How did the ancient Greek religion evolve? What was the meaning of sacrifice and other rituals? Did atheism exist back then? How about alternative religions? We explore all these topics and more in conversation with Barbara Graziosi, professor of classics at Princeton University and author of the book The Gods of Olympus. Stay tuned at the end of the episode to learn how you can win an autographed hard copy of The Gods of Olympus. ------------------ The intro to this episode was provided...


22 Rome's Lost Epics w/ Rhiannon Evans (Ennius, Gnaeus Naevius)

The oldest Roman epics we have were produced during the Roman Empire. But before becoming an empire, Rome was a powerful republic for hundreds of years. What happened to the Roman epics from the republican period? In this episode, we examine the evidence from this fascinating yet elusive early period, when Rome was a powerful Republic, but there were still other powerful states around, all competing for cultural prestige. Our guest on the show is someone who has spent years studying the...


21 How to Succeed in the Iron Age w/ Alicia Stallings

Hesiod's didactic epic Works and Days is probably most famous for containing the stories of Prometheus and Pandora. But these tales are part of a greater mission of explaining how one can live justly and succeed in a harsh world. Our guest today is widely recognized as having produced the best translation of the Works and Days into English. Alicia Stallings is an acclaimed poet, author, McArthur fellow, and translator of Hesiod and of Lucretius. If you would like to read the Works and Days,...


20 How Democracies Fall Apart w/ Melissa Lane (stasis, Thucydides, Plato)

Hundreds of city-states in the ancient world experimented with democracy. Most of them experienced some kind of civil strife at some point. What caused these breakdowns of social order, and are we headed towards a similar fate? In this episode we explore the phenomenon of political polarization (stasis in Greek), its causes, and the solutions that ancient thinkers offered to prevent it from happing. Our guest is Melissa Lane, Professor of Politics and associated faculty of Philosophy and...


19 America's Greco-Roman Legacies w/ Caroline Winterer

At a time when kings and emperors ruled the world, the Founding Fathers of the US were striving to resurrect a millennia-old dream: that of a free republic. Drawing inspiration from ancient Athens, the Roman Republic, and Carthage, they helped craft a society that was at once radically new and rooted in antiquity. Joining us to explore the influence of classical models on early American history is Caroline Winterer, professor of American History and of Classics at Stanford University and...


18 A History of Epic w/ Gregory Nagy and Leonard Muellner (Homer, Iliad, Gilgamesh)

What can anthropology tell us about the origins of humanity's oldest epic stories? And what can these epics, in turn, tell us about our undying fascination with heroes? Joining us to explore these topics and more are Gregory Nagy, professor of classics at Harvard University and director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC, as well as Leonard Muellner, professor emeritus at Brandeis University and director for publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies. If you would like...


17 Platonic Love w/ Zina Giannopoulou (Plato's Symposium)

'Platonic love' is one of the most fascinating (and misunderstood) concepts to have come down to us from the ancient Greeks. Classicist Zina Giannopoulou joins us to set the record straight about the origins of the concept and what Plato's radical theory of love was all about. In this episode we discuss the book that first introduced this concept of Platonic love – the Symposium by Plato. The Symposium is a philosophical dialogue featuring a cast of characters who try to answer the elusive...


16 Dialogue and Dialectic w/ MM McCabe (Philosophy, Plato, Socrates)

Philosopher MM McCabe joins us to discuss the art of the philosophical dialogue, both as a literary form and as a practice between people in real-time conversation. What makes Plato's dialogues, for example, worth reading? And is there anything we can still learn today from the ancient art of dialectic? MM McCabe is emerita professor of ancient philosophy at King's College London. She has spent much of her career writing about the philosophy of Plato. Her books include Plato's Individuals...


15 Homer's Meta-Odyssey w/ Richard Martin

Mythology expert Richard Martin joins us to discuss why the Odyssey has been considered great story-telling by audiences across millennia. As we talked about in episode 2 (on the Iliad), the Homeric epics came out of a long tradition of oral storytelling that stretched back hundreds of years into the Bronze Age. If there was a Homer, he did not just make up all these monsters and adventures up the top of his head. He inherited most of the individual episodes from the oral tradition. If we...


14 Did Aristotle Hold Science Back 2000 Years? w/ Peter Adamson

Did you know that Aristotle is to blame for the sad state of science during the Dark Ages in Western Europe? We could have colonized Mars by now if it weren't for Aristotle's disastrously wrong scientific ideas holding back the progress of science for thousands of years. At least, that's the impression you might get from a host of popular books, blog-posts, and click-bait articles online. For example, here is how one such book, called 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know, argues that...


13 Decoding Atlantis w/ Mark Adams (Plato, Timaeus, Critias)

No other story from ancient Greece has fueled so many controversies, theories, investigations, novels, movies, and documentaries as the story of Atlantis – that grand civilization that supposedly flourished thousands of years before the pyramids were built, and was completely wiped off the face of the earth by a major cataclysm. Interestingly, all of the written “evidence” for Atlantis from ancient times is contained in the work of a single author – the philosopher Plato (who we talked about...


12 The Comedy of Democracy w/ Edith Hall (Aristophanes)

World-renowned classicist Edith Hall joins us to discuss the relation between entertainment and politics in ancient Athens, particularly on the comic stage. Theatrical comedy, which was invented in Athens after the city's democratic revolution, was at first highly political. Comedy plays, put on publicly in the huge outdoor theater of Dionysus, often directly attacked prominent individuals in the city (who were usually in the audience). As mentioned in episode 8, Socrates was often parodied...


11 Caves and Classrooms w/ Raffaella Cribiore

Papyrologist Raffaella Cribiore on education in the ancient Greco-Roman world---- Much of our modern educational system – from the names of our institutions to the books we consider the “classics” – derive from Greco-Roman antiquity. But what was it like to go to school in ancient times? This question is surprisingly difficult to answer because little direct evidence remains. Raffaella Cribiore, professor of Classics at New York University and award-winning author of “Gymnastics of the...


10 Hannibal Takes On Rome w/ Patrick Hunt (Carthage, Polybius, Livy)

Archaeologist Patrick Hunt joins us to discuss Hannibal - the infamous Carthaginian general and one of the greatest military strategists of all time. Having witnessed Carthage's defeat by the Romans as a child, Hannibal dedicated his life to thwarting Rome's imperialist ambitions and restoring power to his native Carthage. In 218 BC he famously led an army with war-elephants across the Alps into Italy, where he campaigned undefeated for over 15 years against the Romans. He came tantalizingly...


09 The World's Oldest Computer w/ Xenophon Moussas (Antikythera Mechanism)

Xenophon Moussas, physicist and member of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, sheds light on the mysterious device that has been described as an “ancient computer,” an “astronomical calculator,” and a “mechanical cosmos.” For more information on the mechanism – including images, reconstructions, and other resources – visit our website at Also check out the YouTube channel “Clickspring” to see a clockmaker build a replica of the mechanism piece by piece.


08 Plato Strikes Back! w/ Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein joins us for a discussion about Plato, Socrates, and the legacy of Greek philosophy. Goldstein is one of the most acclaimed and widely-read philosophers today. Her most recent book, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away, imagines Plato transported through time to the modern world having philosophical debates with scientists, celebrities, and technology pioneers about important life questions. More than just a series of fascinating dialogues, the...


07 The Persian Wars w/ Ian Morris (Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon)

Ian Morris, archaeologist and professor of Classics at Stanford University, joins us for a discussion on the Persian expeditions against Greece in 490-479 BC. How did the Greeks pull off a totally unexpected victory against the biggest invasion force that had ever been launched? Morris explains what the latest research and archaeology tell us about the economies, technologies, and demographics of these civilizations, as well as how these factors may have affected the result of the...


06 What Is Greek Tragedy? w/ Rush Rehm (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides)

Rush Rehm, professor of classics and of theater and performing studies at Stanford University, joins us for a discussion about Greek tragedy. The origins of tragedy (and theater in general) can be traced back in time to one city in the late 6th century BC: Athens. Theater in Athens seems to emerge at the same time that democracy is born. Is that a coincidence? Or is there some deeper connection between the invention of theater and democracy? Scholars have been debating this for a long...


05 Democracy and Demagogues in Ancient Athens w/ Josiah Ober

Historian Josiah Ober of Stanford University joins us for a discussion on classical Athens and how the Athenian system compared to our own democracy. As Ober writes in his recent book The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece, “Democracy and growth define the normal...conditions of modernity: Autocracy, while still prevalent, is regarded as aberrant, so that most autocrats pretend to be democrats.... These conditions were not normal, or even imaginable, for most people through most of human...