The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others

The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others

The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others

The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others


Who were the Classical Greeks? This book provides an original and challenging answer by exploring how Greeks (adult, male, citizen) defined themselves in opposition to a whole series of others (non-Greeks, women, slaves, non-citizens, and gods) as presented by supposedly objective historiansof the time such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. Cartledge looks at the achievements and legacy of the Greeks - history, democracy, philosophy and theatre - and the mental and material contexts of these inventions which are often deeply alien to our own way of thinking and acting. This newedition contains an updated bibliography, a new chapter entitled "Entr'acte: Others in Images and Images of Others," and a new afterword.


People who for years had been denied their pasts have begun searching for their own identifies. . . . This revival of history ushers in a new era . . .

(President Bush, addressing the United Nations

General Assembly, 23 September 1991)

The Genesis of this Book

Unless President Bush was very much mistaken, identity-- both group and personal--is one of the major engines of contemporary political and cultural change. What the late sociologist Norbert Elias called 'the cult of self-consciousness', and others label the 'politics of difference', seems to have reached a fever pitch both on the streets and in the study. As I write, a civil war rages in the ex-Yugoslav republic of Bosnia- Herzegovina, the majority of whose population see themselves as radically differentiated ethnically from the politically dominant Serbs. What is left of the former Soviet Union has become a not very cordial entente of competing republics and opposed ethnic groups--the 'unified team' that competed in another sense at the Barcelona Olympics did so for the first and almost certainly the last time. In the United States, Hispanics and Blacks and women struggle in their different ways, sometimes physically violent ones, to define a space for themselves within the contested arenas of a public culture that is no longer viewed in the relatively positive terms of a 'melting-pot'. Here, finally, on the mean streets of a decayed post-industrial Britain poor, unemployed youths riot partly in order to demonstrate that they too have a social identity and a life to live that are no less valuable to them for having been marginalized by the 'free market'. There is no reason to suppose that these specific examples, only a small selection of . . .

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