Rank #1: 02 Bronze Age Apocalypse 1177BC w/ Eric Cline
Archaeologist Eric Cline on what caused the simultaneous collapse of the Mycenaeans, Hittites, and most other major civilizations at the end of the second millennium BC, thus ushering in the world's first dark ages. Hint: it wasn't just the Sea Peoples.
Sep 24 2016
Rank #2: 03 Dying For Immortality in Homer's Iliad w/ Andrew Ford
Andrew Ford of Princeton University joins us for a conversation about the Iliad. What makes it so...epic? And what kind of vision of the world does Homer provide his audiences?
Oct 20 2016
Rank #3: 15 Homer's Meta-Odyssey w/ Richard Martin
Mythology expert Richard Martin joins us to discuss why the Odyssey has been considered great story-telling by audiences across millennia.
As we talked about in episode 2 (on the Iliad), the Homeric epics came out of a long tradition of oral storytelling that stretched back hundreds of years into the Bronze Age. If there was a Homer, he did not just make up all these monsters and adventures up the top of his head. He inherited most of the individual episodes from the oral tradition. If we want to understand what makes the Odyssey great story-telling, we should look not for originality in the story per se, but at how the author weaves all the episodes together, puts them in a certain order to achieve maximum effect, and plays around with different tropes and formulas in order to tell a familiar type of narrative in an exciting way.
To find out more about the Odyssey (including our recommended translations) and about Richard Martin's books on mythology, visit the webpage for this episode at greecepodcast.com/episode15.html You can also use this link to post, tweet, or share this episode with friends.
Jan 05 2018
Rank #4: 04 Sappho: The Tenth Muse w/ Andromache Karanika
Sappho is one of the first song-writers we know of in history, partly because she was one of the first singers to write down her songs, in around 600BC. We still know about her because she was considered the best song-writer for about a thousand years after her death. While best known as a singer of female desire, her lyrics were so powerfully felt by men and women across the centuries that she became known as the tenth muse, joining the ranks of the 9 divine muses – the goddesses of art and inspiration. But after a millennium of celebrity status, Sappho's works were almost completely lost. Of the nine volumes of her songs that once graced the shelves of libraries at Alexandria and elsewhere, only a few pages survive today – most of it scattered bits and fragments of different songs. Andromache Karanika, professor of classics at the University of California Irvine has written extensively on Sappho and early Greek poetry. She joins us to talk about the tenth muse, her life, and works, and why they were lost.
Nov 21 2016
Rank #5: 05 Democracy and Demagogues in Ancient Athens w/ Josiah Ober
Historian Josiah Ober of Stanford University joins us for a discussion on classical Athens and how the Athenian system compared to our own democracy. As Ober writes in his recent book The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece,
“Democracy and growth define the normal...conditions of modernity: Autocracy, while still prevalent, is regarded as aberrant, so that most autocrats pretend to be democrats.... These conditions were not normal, or even imaginable, for most people through most of human history. But, for several centuries in the first millennium BCE, democracy and growth were normal for citizens in ancient Greece."
Ober's book brings together archaeological data, economic theory, and historical and demographic models in order to explain the political developments of the classical Greek world. In it, he suggests that the Ancient Greek world was historically exceptional in many of the same ways that our modern world is. If that's true, what lessons, if any, can we take away from the Athenian experience?
Don't forget to check out the web page for this episode at greecepodcast.com/5 where you can join the conversation and vote in a poll we've set up about the future of democracy.
Jan 09 2017
Rank #6: 06 What Is Greek Tragedy? w/ Rush Rehm (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides)
Rush Rehm, professor of classics and of theater and performing studies at Stanford University, joins us for a discussion about Greek tragedy. The origins of tragedy (and theater in general) can be traced back in time to one city in the late 6th century BC: Athens. Theater in Athens seems to emerge at the same time that democracy is born. Is that a coincidence? Or is there some deeper connection between the invention of theater and democracy? Scholars have been debating this for a long time.
Furthermore, Greek tragedies are famous for their depiction of human suffering. What are we to make of these wrenching stories? Is this just horror for the sake of horror? Is it just shock-value? Is it extreme pessimism? Or, as some philosophers have argued, is there something cathartic, or even elevating, about these plays?
Our discussion today will take us back to the dawn of theater in 5th century BC Athens. We're going to talk about what going to the theater was like for the ancient Athenians, and then we're going to get into some of the deeper issues these plays bring up.
If you would like to learn more about the individual Greek tragedies mentioned in this episode (like Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Medea etc), check out the awesome podcast called “Literature and History.” Not only will you hear these classic stories told in a witty, dramatic way, but you'll also find an exploration of the deeper meanings and historical background of these plays.
Jan 29 2017
Rank #7: 07 The Persian Wars w/ Ian Morris (Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon)
Ian Morris, archaeologist and professor of Classics at Stanford University, joins us for a discussion on the Persian expeditions against Greece in 490-479 BC. How did the Greeks pull off a totally unexpected victory against the biggest invasion force that had ever been launched? Morris explains what the latest research and archaeology tell us about the economies, technologies, and demographics of these civilizations, as well as how these factors may have affected the result of the conflict. Morris' most recent book is "War: What is it good for?" - a fast-paced history of the world from the Stone Age to the present that focuses on warfare, geography, and technology. In it, he makes a counter-intuitive claim: that warfare, if we look at it over many thousands of years, has actually made human societies progressively less violent.This episode focuses on the Persian wars but touches on some of the main ideas from Morris' book.
Feb 27 2017
Rank #8: 18 A History of Epic w/ Gregory Nagy and Leonard Muellner (Homer, Iliad, Gilgamesh)
What can anthropology tell us about the origins of humanity's oldest epic stories? And what can these epics, in turn, tell us about our undying fascination with heroes? Joining us to explore these topics and more are Gregory Nagy, professor of classics at Harvard University and director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC, as well as Leonard Muellner, professor emeritus at Brandeis University and director for publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies.
If you would like to learn more about ancient epics and heroes, Gregory Nagy has an online course you can take from Harvard, called “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 hours.” It may just be the best online classics course available right now. And it is completely free to audit. Check it out at: https://www.edx.org/course/the-ancient-greek-hero
For those of you looking for more podcasts on ancient Greece, History in the Making is a show that is definitely worth checking out. The first season covers the Classical Athens and the Peloponnesian War.
Sep 11 2018
Rank #9: 13 Decoding Atlantis w/ Mark Adams (Plato, Timaeus, Critias)
No other story from ancient Greece has fueled so many controversies, theories, investigations, novels, movies, and documentaries as the story of Atlantis – that grand civilization that supposedly flourished thousands of years before the pyramids were built, and was completely wiped off the face of the earth by a major cataclysm. Interestingly, all of the written “evidence” for Atlantis from ancient times is contained in the work of a single author – the philosopher Plato (who we talked about in episode 8). Plato wrote about Atlantis towards the end of his life in two philosophical works called the Timaeus and the Critias, which are meant to be sequels of his earlier philosophical blockbuster the Republic.
With us today to talk about the various theories that have been proposed on the meaning of the Atlantis tale and whether there’s any grain of truth to it, is someone who has traveled to all the major sites that people have suggested for Atlantis and has met with the most hardcore atlantologists in the world. Mark Adams is author of the book Meet Me In Atlantis. He is probably best known for his New York Times best seller Turn Right at Machu Pichu.
For more information on Atlantis, visit the webpage for this episode at greecepodcast.com/13
BOOK GIVEAWAY info: If you'd like to enter to win a copy of Mark Adams' book Meet Me In Atlantis here's what to do. Go to our Facebook page at facebook.com/greecepodcast The first post you'll see will be a post about this episode. Share the post with your friends by clicking the share button. Then, once you've shared it, go back to our Facebook page, click the “message” button, and send us the word “shared” so we know you shared it. On November 10, we will randomly pick two winners and send you guys each a copy of Adams' book.
Oct 27 2017
Rank #10: 16 Dialogue and Dialectic w/ MM McCabe (Philosophy, Plato, Socrates)
Philosopher MM McCabe joins us to discuss the art of the philosophical dialogue, both as a literary form and as a practice between people in real-time conversation. What makes Plato's dialogues, for example, worth reading? And is there anything we can still learn today from the ancient art of dialectic?
MM McCabe is emerita professor of ancient philosophy at King's College London. She has spent much of her career writing about the philosophy of Plato. Her books include Plato's Individuals (1999), Plato and his Predecessors: The Dramatization of Reason (2007), and Platonic Conversations (2015).
For more information, visit the webpage for this episode at http://greecepodcast.com/episode16.html
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Feb 04 2018