24 episodes

(CLCV 205) This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars.

This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

Ancient Greek History - Audio Yale University

    • History
    • 4.3 • 333 Ratings

(CLCV 205) This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars.

This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

    01 - Introduction

    01 - Introduction

    Professor Donald Kagan explains why people should study the ancient Greeks. He argues that the Greeks are worthy of our study not only because of their vast achievements and contributions to Western civilization (such as in the fields of science, law, and politics) but also because they offer a unique perspective on humanity. To the Greeks, man was both simultaneously capable of the greatest achievements and the worst crimes; he was both great and important, but also mortal and fallible. He was a tragic figure, powerful but limited. Therefore, by studying the Greeks, one gains insight into a tension that has gripped and shaped the West and the rest of the world through its influence. In short, to study the Greeks is to study the nature of human experience.

    • 33 min
    02 - The Dark Ages

    02 - The Dark Ages

    In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the earliest history of Greek civilization. He demonstrates how small agricultural enclaves eventually turned into great cities of power and wealth in the Bronze Age, taking as his examples first Minoan Crete and then Mycenaean Greece. He also argues that these civilizations were closely related to the great monarchies of the ancient Near East. He points out that the Mycenaean age eventually came to an abrupt end probably through a process of warfare and migration. Reconstructing the Mycenaean age is possible through archaeological evidence and through epic poetry (Homer). Finally, he provides an account of the collapse of the Mycenaean world, and explains how in its aftermath, the Greeks were poised to start their civilization over on a new slate.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    03 - The Dark Ages (cont.)

    03 - The Dark Ages (cont.)

    In this lecture, Professor Kagan addresses what scholars call the Homeric question. He asks: what society do Homer's poems describe? He argues that in view of the long oral transmission of the poems, the poems of Homer probably reflect various ages from the Mycenaean world to the Dark Ages. More importantly, close scrutiny of the poems will yield historical information for the historian. In this way, one is able to reconstruct through the poems, to a certain extent, the post-Mycenaean world. Finally, Professor Kagan says a few words on the heroic ethic of the Greek world.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    04 - The Rise of the Polis

    04 - The Rise of the Polis

    In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan offers a sketch of the Greek heroic code of ethics. He shows that in this community, arête (manly virtue) and honor are extremely important and even worth dying for, as the case of Achilles makes clear. In addition, Professor Kagan shows how this society eventually produced a new phenomenon, the rise of the polis. The discussion ends with a strong emphasis on the importance of the polis in Greek history.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    05 - The Rise of the Polis (cont.)

    05 - The Rise of the Polis (cont.)

    In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan tells the story of the emergence of the polis from the Dark Ages. He shows that by the time of the poet Hesiod, there is already a polis in place. He describes the importance of the polis in the Greek world and explains that it was much more than a mere place of habitation; it was a place where there was justice, law, community, and a set of cultural values that held Greeks together. Finally, Professor Kagan argues, following the lead of Victor David Hanson, that the polis came to be chiefly through the emergence of a new man: the hoplite farmer.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    06 - The Greek "Renaissance" - Colonization and Tyranny

    06 - The Greek "Renaissance" - Colonization and Tyranny

    In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan discusses the emergence of a new style of warfare among the Greeks, the hoplite phalanx. After discussing the panoply of the hoplite solider and the method of fighting, he argues that this style of fighting came about early in the life of the polis. In addition, he shows that the phalanx was almost invincible on the field. At the lecture's conclusion, he answers several questions from students about hoplite warfare in the Greek world.

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
333 Ratings

333 Ratings

jillybeankc6 ,

Great, Relevant

I listened to these with a group of my students. We really enjoyed them! The information is clear, his speaking style is engaging, and the information is accessible to even a novice in Greek history. He also discusses ties between events/culture in this time and creates opportunities to more critically consider our own society. Excellent lectures!

GrkFan89 ,

History is for today. Learning is up to you.

This is great information by someone who is obviously an outstanding scholar in his field. I think it is appropriate that he points out how modern thought is shaped by Greek history. That’s kind of the whole point of history! Also those that fault him for having a conservative bent would not have a problem listening to someone with a progressive or liberal bent. You have to learn to think for yourself with the information you are receiving. That’s the whole point of education! Haters gonna hate, but this is absolutely great information by an excellent teacher.
I do want to give him a lozenge though...

LogicisMagic ,

Biased and lacks knowledge!

Clearly his lectures are so biased and lacks knowledge of other civilization. His arguments of why one learns about Greek civilization does not hold good. He talks about freedom and then talks about slavery. Clearly we can see it was male dominant society. He also talks about other civilization having Kings and religions but he talks about Greek religion, Kings and tyranny. Again he talks about cities are first established in Greek but he lacks knowledge about cities and settlements of other civilization.

Greek civilization is surely interesting and artistically rich but it is similar to other cradles of civilization. One should read about Egyptian, Indian and Mesopotamian civilization along with this.

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