Alpha to Omega: The Life & Times of the Greek Alphabet

Alpha to Omega: The Life & Times of the Greek Alphabet

Alpha to Omega: The Life & Times of the Greek Alphabet

Alpha to Omega: The Life & Times of the Greek Alphabet

Synopsis

In the first offering of this beloved duo, the Humez brothers take on the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet (plus those elusive "dead letters"), and through the device of the abecedarium bring the Greek culture and thought to life. From acoustics to zygote, they provide not only an engaging romp through the Greek language but also a series of glimpses into the world and man's place in it. The historical, philosophical, mathematical, cosmological, and political (all Greek words) approaches we take toward life, its description, elucidation, and evaluation, are all mainly derived from several thousand years of Greek culture. The vocabulary of language is a mirror of the minds of its speakers, and in this book we see the first reflections of the modern world.

Excerpt

This is a book about the Greek alphabet, about ancient Greek culture, and what these have given us. "Ancient Greece" to most readers will perhaps conjure up a tableau of Athens in the fifth century B.C., of Socrates, Alcibiades, Euripides, Pheidias, Pericles, and Aristophanes set against a dazzling backdrop of the Acropolis in all its glory, sandwiched in time between the last Persian invasion and the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. We will talk about that time and space in Greek life, to be sure; but there is a great deal more to Greek civilization than that. Greeks lived in all the lands on the coast of the Aegean Sea, including western Asia Minor; had colonies flourishing as far off as Sicily and the French Riviera; and were firmly ensconced in southern Italy -- it is not for nothing that the Romans called this land Magna Graecia, "Great(er) Greece." Moreover, thanks to the conquests of Alexander the Great, Palestine and Egypt saw rule by Greek kings until the Romans came; and Alexandria, at the mouth of the Nile, boasted the best library in antiquity and rivaled even Athens as a center of learning. And Byzantium, which Constantine made the seat of the eastern half of the Roman empire, survived the fall of Rome to the barbarians by a thousand years, shining as a beacon of learning and high culture through Europe's darkest ages.

Nor did the golden age of Greece spring full-grown from Chaos. Antedating fifth-century Athens was a millennium of Greek civilization, beginning with the probably non-Greek Minoans, based largely on Crete, from whom the succeeding Mycenaean Greeks liberally borrowed as they extended their power throughout the Peloponnese. (It was the Mycenaeans who fought in the . . .

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