Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities Essay

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Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities is a concise and surprisingly refined assessment of the Ancient Greek world, from the early dark ages to late Antiquity, told uniquely through the history of eleven city-states or “polis”. Paul Cartledge’s Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities, details the cultural traditions, trade, and politics that laid the foundation of the sprawling Aegean civilization. By examples of the successful polis Cnossos on the island of Crete, and continuing through to the rise of iconic Sparta, it is easy to trace the development of Greek civilization. The emergence of Classical Greece is examined in the accounts of Athens, Syracuse, and Thebes while the descriptions of Alexandria are symbolic of the transition into the Hellenistic age. A final discussion of the rise of Byzantium notes the decline of city-state independence. Arguably, Cartledge’s paradoxical title of the book surprisingly captures the key events detailing the history of the Greek civilization.
Cartledge begins by discussing the intensely debated Linear tablets and their script. These tablets gave researchers valuable and indispensable insight into the lives of the people and the structured world they lived in. Linear A and Linear B, are linear forms of writing used by certain Aegean civilizations. Cartridge goes on discussing the importance of the tablets throughout the chapter and novel. However what stood out in the chapter was the beautiful detailing of the people and backdrop of Cnossos. Information and knowledge on the prehistoric era of Ancient Greece is scarce due to many things being destroyed when the polis was ruined and then later revived. Much of the information obtained is either inferred or theoretical. Proceeding on t...

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..." of Greek history that were representative of that epoch. However, the reader can get easily lost in the quick transitions the author makes between the eleven cities. Paul Cartridge’s principal criticism is inherent in the endeavor itself. Terms, places, and people speed by so briefly that one is left not knowing what was just read. The immeasurable amount of information on Ancient Greece makes it exceedingly difficult to relay the message properly from author to reader and so on. Furthermore Ancient Greece cannot be wholly praised if not properly conveyed. Although in fairness Cartledge devotes many pages suggesting many works further reading. Being an admirer of Ancient Greek history, one can fully appreciate Paul Cartridges work but the reader is ultimately left with the feeling that the novel came up short when attempting to cover the information adequately.

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