A Classical Primer: Ancient Knowledge for Modern Minds

A Classical Primer: Ancient Knowledge for Modern Minds

by Dan Crompton

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Didn't take Classics at school? Or maybe you've forgotten most of what you once knew? To save you looking it up, Classics is the study of the culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and takes in all aspects of their life and learning - from the languages to literature, philosophy, art, and much more besides. A Classical Primer is an accessible and enjoyable look back at classical civilization; how they lived, and how many aspects of our own daily lives have been directly influenced by theirs, from roads and concrete, to central heating, the twelve-month calendar, cranes and even the modern-day favourite, pizza! This handy, informative and enjoyable book is the perfect primer for people of all ages, and shows that even a basic knowledge of Classics is not only essential, bus also incredibly fascinating.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781843178989
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books
Publication date: 05/03/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Dan Crompton studied Classics and Linguistics at Cambridge University. He is the author of Caught Short (2013) and A Classical Primer (2012) and the translator (from the original Ancient Greek) of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: The World's Oldest Joke Book (2010).

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

Chapter 1 Greek and Latin Languages 13

The Greek language: from Alpha to Omega 14

History 14

The alphabet 15

Not an iota of difference 18

A quick trip to Honolulu 19

The grammar basics (in any language) 21

Nouns: the cases 23

Latin noun declensions 26

Gender stereotypes in Latin grammar 29

Verbs 33

Everyone's speaking the same language 36

The Greek grammar basics 37

The 'the' 37

Nouns 39

Verbs 43

Greek and Latin: quod erat demonstrandum 44

Ancient words for modern meanings 52

The roots of modern words 54

Chapter 2 Classical History 59

Greek and Roman history in a nutshell 60

The Bronze Age: Minoans and Mycenaeans 61

The dawn of democracy 63

The Macedonian Empire: Alexander the Great 64

The beginnings of Rome: Romulus and Remus 67

The Roman kingdom: 753 to 510 Be 68

The Roman Republic: 510 to 27 BC 69

What's in a name? 71

Roman law 72

The Romans and the Greeks 73

Slavery 75

The Roman Empire: 27 BC to AD 476 77

The fall of the Roman Empire: AD 476 to 1453 79

Greek historians: Herodotus, Thucydides, Josephus 81

Herodotus 81

Thucydides 83

Josephus 85

Chapter 3 An Introduction to Greek Literature 87

Homer 88

Background 88

Homeric Greek 89

How to recite 30,000 lines of poetry 90

So who was he? 91

The Iliad 92

Background 92

Who's who 93

Getting ready for war 94

Greek victory 95

Achilles and Patroclus 97

What's it all about, then? 98

The Odyssey 99

Background 99

Setting up the story 100

The Cyclops 101

Odysseus returns home 102

Some useful muses 104

'The Tenth Muse' 105

What's it all about, then? 106

Greek tragedy: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides 108

Background 108

Aeschylus: The Oresteia 110

Sophocles: Oedipus Rex 112

Euripides: Electro 113

Chapter 4 An Introduction to Latin Literature 115

Virgil: The Aeneid 116

Background 116

Aeneas's journey 117

The Trojan Horse 119

Aeneas and Dido 120

War with the Italians 121

What's it all about, then? 122

Roman poetry: Catullus, Horace, Ovid 124

Catullus 124

Horace 125

Ovid 127

Chapter 5 Philosophy 131

The Pre-Socratic philosophers: What is everything? 132

Background 132

The early philosophers 133

What the flux? 134

Zeno's paradoxes 135

What's it all about, then? 136

Socrates and Plato 137

Background 137

What is 'good'? 139

The Republic 140

Chapter 6 Ancient Architecture 143

The Parthenon 144

What was it? 144

Optical illusions 146

Losing your marbles 147

Knowing your columns 149

Doric order 150

Ionic order 151

Corinthian order 151

The Colosseum 152

Background 152

What was it used for? 153

Rome's biggest sports arena 154

Some very clever features 155

Chapter 7 Science and Technology 157

Pythagoras 158

Philosophy 159

Mathematics 160

Pythagoras's influence 162

Humble pi 163

Notable inventions ahead of their time 165

The death ray 166

The alarm clock 167

The vending machine 169

Automatic doors 170

Scholar and inventor 171

Construction 172

How did they get that Up? 174

Central heating and heated swimming pools 176

The water pump 177

Flushing toilets 179

Glass 180

Urban planning 181

So was there anything the ancients couldn't do, or didn't invent? 182

One last great invention from classical times … Another humble pie … 183

Select bibliography 185

Index 187

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