Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter

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Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003 - History - 304 pages
In the fourth volume of the acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill brings his characteristic wit and style to a fascinating tour of ancient Greece.

The Greeks invented everything from Western warfare to mystical prayer, from logic to statecraft. Many of their achievements, particularly in art and philosophy, are widely celebrated; other important innovations and accomplishments, however, are unknown or underappreciated. In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Thomas Cahill explores the legacy, good and bad, of the ancient Greeks. From the origins of Greek culture in the migrations of armed Indo-European tribes into Attica and the Peloponnesian peninsula, to the formation of the city-states, to the birth of Western literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, art, and architecture, Cahill makes the distant past relevant to the present.

Greek society is one of the two primeval influences on the Western world: While Jews gave us our value system, the Greeks set the foundation and framework for our intellectual lives. They are responsible for our vocabulary, our logic, and our entire system of categorization. They provided the intellectual tools we bring to bear on problems in philosophy, mathematics, medicine, physics, and the other sciences. Their modes of thinking, considered in classical times to be the pinnacle of human achievement, are largely responsible for the shape that the Christian religion took.

But, as Cahill points out, the Greeks left a less appealing bequest as well. They created Western militarism and, in making the warrior the ultimate ideal, perpetrated the assumption that only males could be entrusted with the duties of citizenship. The consequences of their exclusion of women from the political sphere and the social segregation of the sexes continue to reverberate today.

Full of surprising, often controversial, insights, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea is a remarkable intellectual adventure—conducted by the most companionable guide imaginable. Cahill’s knowledge of his sources is so intimate that he has made his own fresh translations of the Greek lyric poets for this volume.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mattries37315 - LibraryThing

The foundations of what we call Western culture today seemingly sprung from one place, Greece, yet that is not the entire truth. Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, the fourth volume of Thomas Cahill’s Hinges ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - vlcraven - LibraryThing

The ancient Greeks looked at the world as it was and thought, ‘We can improve upon all of this. Just…all of it.’ Well, not really. But that’s what they ended up doing. Whether it was in ways of ... Read full review

Contents

THE WARRIOR
16
THE WANDERER
50
How to Party
77
THE POLITICIAN AND THE PLAYWRIGHT
101
THE PHILOSOPHER
137
THE ARTIST
193
THE WAY THEY WENT
229
The Creek Alphabet
265
Chronology
285
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

THOMAS CAHILL is the author of the three previous volumes in the Hinges of History series: How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills. They have been bestsellers, not only in the United States but also in countries ranging from Italy to Brazil. Cahill was recently invited to address the U.S. Congress on the Judeo-Christian roots of moral responsibility in American politics. He and his wife, Susan, also a writer, divide their time between New York and Rome.

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