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Ancient Greece Declassified

History Podcasts

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. New episode every month.

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. New episode every month.

Location:

United States

Description:

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. New episode every month.

Language:

English


Episodes

30 Rome's Most Lethal Weapon w/ Steele Brand

3/16/2020
Rome conquered the Mediterranean world without a professional army, relying instead on its citizens to take up arms when necessary. How did these part-time soldiers defeat all the great powers of the ancient Mediterranean? Our guest Steele Brand offers an original answer to this question in his new book Killing for the Republic: Citizen Soldiers and the Roman Way of War. Brand is professor of history at The King's College in New York City. His understanding of military matters is informed...

Duration:00:55:02

29 Penelope: Weaver of Fate w/ Olga Levaniouk

2/1/2020
Penelope is one of the most compelling characters from ancient Greek mythology. And yet her intelligence and agency in Homer's Odyssey is seldom appreciated. Towards the end of the epic, Penelope comes face-to-face with Odysseus, who has finally returned home disguised as a beggar. After they exchange a few stories (with Odysseus still maintaining his disguise), Penelope sets in motion a chain of events that seals the fate of all the major characters in the story. Since antiquity people...

Duration:01:02:13

28 Thucydides: A Historian for Our Time? w/ Emily Greenwood

11/23/2019
The Athenian historian Thucydides observed and chronicled the greatest military conflict of his day: the epic contest between Athens and Sparta known as the Peloponnesian War (431-404BC). Much more than just a straightforward history, his work is a study of the struggle between democracy and oligarchy, as well as a meditation on the dangers of populism and political polarization. Perhaps for this reason, Thucydides' work has experienced a surge in popularity over recent years as polarization...

Duration:00:58:16

27 Oligarchy, Part 2: Nemesis w/ Matt Simonton

10/1/2019
What methods and institutions do oligarchic regimes use to maintain their power? How do they fend off the threat of democratic revolution? What happened to the many oligarchies of the ancient Mediterranean? All of these questions and more are explored in this second part of our conversation with historian Matt Simonton, author of Classical Greek Oligarchy. ------------------ Support us on Patreon: patreon.com/greecepodcast Or make a one-time...

Duration:00:40:40

26 Oligarchy, Part 1: Genesis w/ Matt Simonton

9/1/2019
How do ancient oligarchies compare with modern authoritarian regimes? How did civil war in oligarchies differ from civil war in democracies? What does the age-old ideological struggle between democracy and oligarchy imply about our future? These are just a few of the questions we discuss on this and the next episode. This episode covers: what oligarchy actually is, and how this political form arose in the first place. The next episode – Oligarchy, Part 2: Nemesis – is going to be about the...

Duration:00:41:01

25 The Origins of Philosophy w/ André Laks (Presocratics, Parmenides, Heraclitus)

8/1/2019
According to the historical evidence, the first stirrings of philosophical inquiry began 2600 years ago in ancient Greece with a group of thinkers known as the Presocratics (or pre-Socratics). In this episode we try to shed light on these early pioneers of philosophy. Our guest is André Laks, professor of ancient philosophy at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City. Laks is the co-editor of the recent 9-volume Harvard Loeb edition of the early Greek philosophical fragments – the first...

Duration:00:55:43

24 A History of Inequality w/ Walter Scheidel

5/31/2019
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...

Duration:00:52:01

23 Greek Religion and Its Discontents w/ Barbara Graziosi

5/1/2019
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...

Duration:00:44:20

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

4/12/2019
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...

Duration:00:54:14

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

3/22/2019
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,...

Duration:00:46:42

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

2/22/2019
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...

Duration:00:50:35

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

1/3/2019
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...

Duration:00:50:05

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

9/11/2018
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...

Duration:00:49:39

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

7/22/2018
'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...

Duration:00:33:57

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

2/4/2018
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...

Duration:00:40:04

15 Homer's Meta-Odyssey w/ Richard Martin

1/4/2018
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...

Duration:00:47:16

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

11/21/2017
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...

Duration:00:48:11

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

10/27/2017
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...

Duration:00:48:54

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

9/21/2017
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...

Duration:00:49:06

11 Caves and Classrooms w/ Raffaella Cribiore

7/18/2017
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...

Duration:00:49:46