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I was very disappointed with this lecture series.
Firstly, the presentation is very dull; Cline does not speak with any enthusiasm, droning on as if he's bored by his own script. He includes quotations from sources which are too long; if you're going to be quoting for more than a minute, in a lecture format you're better off summarising. The quotes, in addition, were not always well-chosen - for example, when you're attempting to cover so much in 8 hours, why read a long description of the symptoms of the Athenian plague?
This brings me onto my gripe with the overall selection of material in the course. 8 hours go from prehistory to the Hellenistic period results in a course which completely lacks in depth, and Cline does not use his time effectively - for example, he spends the same amount of time on the Trojan War, an event shrouded in myth, as he does on the vastly better-documented Peloponnesian War. The reason Cline does this is obvious: by training, he is an archaeologist, and is therefore very familiar with the excavations at Troy. Now, whilst it may seem foolish of me to cast doubt on Cline's credentials to teach this course, I am so dissatisfied that I must do so.
Cline's area of expertise does not extend to Greek History beyond the 'dark age', and indeed he does not have a record of publication on Classical or Hellenistic Greece. This shows throughout the course, as he has a very shallow understanding of events. For example, he states that Pericles deliberately tried to bring on the Peloponnesian War - definitely a matter of interpretation which should not be stated as fact. He speaks at length about the stories of Cyrus's childhood and Solon's meeting with Croesus, presenting them as if they are part of the historical narrative when they are legendary stories (Solon and Croesus don't even overlap chronologically, for instance). Further, he does not use this extended exposition of these stories to make a point about the development of historiography, making them even more questionable inclusions in the course. Several times, Cline suggests that Spartan society might reasonably be called Communistic or Socialistic - completely inappropriate and anachronistic concepts. Repeatedly, Cline seems to miss the point, or deliver information which he fails to relate to the subject at hand. He even discusses the Roman Emperor Nero's participation in the Olympics and some of the events of his reign - it's as if his mind has completely wandered off on a tangent!
If I recommended this course to any newcomer to Greek history, I would not feel that I was putting them in a safe scholarly pair of hands. This is my first Modern Scholar course, but it has disappointed me in comparison to the Great Courses lectures I have previously seen. I will perhaps try a different Modern Scholar course after checking that the lecturer is working with his specific area of expertise.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I haven't always enjoyed the lecture format of 'modern scholar'- usually they have been good on content but rather difficult listening.
Eric Cline, however was very easy listening- but this was possibly because I knew the topic- or did a few years ago- and downloaded this series as a revision course before a trip to Greece. For that purpose it was excellent.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a perfectly-pitched survey of Ancient Greece. If you're like me, you know the vague outlines of Greek history, but wanted to know more of the details. If so, this will be an excellent series of lectures for you: the lecturer gives you a solid outline of the historical facts, covering a bit of social history and philosophy along with the stories of the kings and warrriors, and he organizes it well, with summaries at the end to remind you of what you've learned. He never condescends, speaking briskly and packing lots of information into each short lecture.
By the way, the reviewer who says there is 'too much Christianity' in these lectures must be reviewing some other audiobook by mistake - there is no mention of Christianity at all in this one.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
This series of lectures is extremely informative and enjoyable. A detailed overview of Greek history it is a very good introduction to the ancient Greeks. If you already have a working knowledge of Greek history it's a pretty good review if you don't it's an even better place to start. Well worth the time and money. I'd buy it again.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful