The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal

The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal

The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal

The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal

Synopsis

This book is about much more than `the glory that was Greece'. In this fresh appraisal, replacing the original Legacy of Greece edited by Sir Richard Livingstone in 1921, fourteen distinguished contributors, all specialists in their field, describe a particular aspect of Greek culture, and then assess what later generations have made of this valuable inheritance. The result is a lucid and succinct introduction to how the ancient Greeks lived and thought, and to their influence on the world we know today. The wide range of topics covered includes politics, literature, history, education, philosophy, science, myth, and art and architecture.

Excerpt

The Legacy of Greece, edited by Sir Richard Livingstone, was published in 1921 and is still deservedly popular. If a new appraisal is now being offered, that is not only, or even primarily, because the information needs to be brought up to date, but because a different approach seems desirable. Sir Richard and his ten distinguished colleagues took 'legacy' in its root-sense, a bequest, and so, after an initial paean by Gilbert Murray to the glory that was Greece, they portrayed ancient Greek culture, field by field, beginning with religion and philosophy and ending with art and architecture. This volume retains that element, on a much reduced scale, and then proceeds, in each chapter, to examine what later ages, down to our own, have made of the inheritance from the Greeks. Schematically, one could say that whereas the original Legacy was about Greek culture, this version is about its meaning in the history of European culture.

Each contributor had a free hand in selecting his emphases and in determining the structure of his chapter. Editorial intervention was restricted to fixing tight space limits, to a plea for the avoidance of potted history and of catalogues of names, and to elimination of excessive duplication (though a small amount was unavoidable). There was not the slightest effort to impose a consistent 'line' in any respect, other than the need to consider both aspects of the concept of legacy. Formal consistency has, however, been achieved in the method of citation (thanks to the editorial staff of the Oxford University Press), and in the weight given in the reading-lists to books in English. the latter was determined by the primary needs of readers of the volume, not by any false belief in English superiority in the study of the Greek world or of its legacy.

Seven years have elapsed since this project was begun. the patience of those contributors who met deadlines has been exemplary, and I should like to express my particular appreciation to them. One of the most prompt, Professor Marrou, died before the book went to press, and his loss is one that we all mourn.

M. I. F.

Darwin College, Cambridge June 1979 . . .

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