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The Children of Athena

Greek writers and thinkers in the Age of Rome, 150 BC–AD 400

Charles Freeman

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Head of Zeus
01 February 2024
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The remarkable story of how Greek-speaking writers and thinkers sustained and developed the intellectual legacy of Classical Greece under the rule of Rome.

In 146 BC, Greece yielded to the military might of the Roman Republic; some sixty years later, when Athens and other Greek city-states rebelled against Rome, the general Lucius Cornelius Sulla destroyed the city of Socrates and Plato, laying waste the famous Academy where Aristotle had studied.

However, the traditions of Greek cultural life would continue to flourish – across the eastern Mediterranean world and beyond – during the centuries of Roman rule that followed, in the lives and work of a distinguished array of philosophers, rhetoricians, historians, doctors, scientists, geographers and theologians.

Charles Freeman's accounts of such luminaries as the polymathic physician Galen, the soldier-botanist Dioscorides, the Alexandrian geographer and astronomer Ptolemy and the Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus are interwoven with 'interludes' that counterpoint and contextualise a sequence of unjustly neglected and richly influential lives.

This is the story of a vibrant, constantly evolving tradition of intellectual inquiry across a period of more than five hundred years, from the second century BC to the start of the fifth century ad – one that would help shape the intellectual landscape of the Middle Ages and long after. The Children of Athena is a cultural history on an epic scale.

Imprint:   Head of Zeus
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781803281957
ISBN 10:   1803281952
Pages:   400
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Charles Freeman is a specialist on the ancient world and its legacy. He has worked on archaeological digs on the continents surrounding the Mediterranean and develops study tour programs in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Freeman is Historical Consultant to the Blue Guides series and the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Closing of the Western Mind, Holy Bones, Holy Dust.and, most recently, The Awakening. He lives in the UK.

Reviews for The Children of Athena: Greek writers and thinkers in the Age of Rome, 150 BC–AD 400

Too often we ask what the Romans did for us – but this important and beautifully written book reminds us to ask what the Greeks did for the Romans – and for us in turn! This is a banquet of delightful insight, important ideas and colourful characters. * Michael Scott * Charles Freeman's latest effusion of cultural history is a paean of tributes to ancient Hellenic intellection, philosophical in both a technical and a more general sense... Freeman sportingly and illuminatingly engages with a wide variety of styles of thought and expression, from epideictic oratory and satire via historiography and mathematics to philosophy proper. Sophisticated Greek culture did not only take firm hold of the Greeks' Roman conquerors' imaginations: thanks to Byzantium and the Renaissance (other specialisms of our exceptionally broadminded author), it engages us still to this day. * Paul Cartledge * This is a much-needed book. The astounding brilliance of Greek writers of the Classical period, the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, is well known. But Greek learning did not end with the end of the Classical period. Freeman demonstrates the extraordinary richness and the variety of the work being done by the Greek intellectuals of the Roman empire... We meet orators, philosophers, historians, geographers, astronomers, a travel writer, a medical botanist, physicians, a satirist, polymaths with various interests and Christian scholars. Gradually a picture emerges of the magnificence – and the lasting importance – of work being done by the Greek intellectuals of the Roman empire. * Robin Waterfield, author of Plato of Athens: A Life in Philosophy * This book brings together a gallery of fascinating personalities, a group of Greek intellectuals — controversialists, scientists, and scholars — to elucidate the role they each played in the discourse and intellectual life of the Roman Empire and beyond. The varied contribution of these famous individuals places them, without doubt, in the centre of Roman intellectual life and explains the long-lasting influence they have had on European literature, science, and scholarship. Freeman brings them to life so they can resonate amongst us and show off the height of their achievements once more. A much needed reminder of the wonders of late antiquity and the birth of European scholarship. * Christos Nifadopoulos, PhD, Cambridge University * PRAISE FOR THE AWAKENING: 'Charles Freeman has done it again – amassed a vast body of knowledge on a major subject and infused it with historical understanding and humane wit' Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge. 'The Awakening is a remarkable work of scholarship by esteemed historian Charles Freeman... The book is a fine production, adorned with coloured images of frescos and ancient manuscripts' Irish Times. 'Freeman is a good host, a superb narrator and tells his story with aplomb... His elegant prose is a treat for the mind and the accompanying illuminations a treat for the eye' International Times. 'My favourite book of the year... The wonderful images of the art, architecture and books bring to life the detailed argument of Awakening... Freeman makes the subject matter alive and relevant in a way that few historians of ideas can... A book to read slowly, to ponder and enjoy leisurely' * Goodreads *

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