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Archaic Greek World: good books

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Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Osterdeich » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:49 am

Hi all—I am doing a survey of Greek civilization (on my own, autodidact style) and I am looking for quality books on the subject. So anything excellent that pertains to the period of roughly 1200–479 BCE is what I am looking for.

So far I am using the following books as a start:

A History of the Archaic Greek World—Jonathan M. Hall
Archaic and Classical Greek Art—Robin Osborne
A History of Greek Literature—Lesky
Greek Iambic Poetry: From the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries B.C. (Loeb Classical Library No. 259) by Archilochus, Semonides, Hipponax • Douglas E. Gerber, ed.

I am also doing my own study of the Iliad and Odyssey alongside this as well as reading Hesiod.

Can anyone recommend good sources or books on anything related to the culture, art, literature or history of the period? Anything in English, German or of course classical Greek is fine. I'll even give any good French sources a spin if my language skills hold up.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance and have a super day.
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Scribo » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:10 pm

The problem is its always tempting to list surveys, introductions and general works but then you'd just end up re-reading the same things. Just by different authors.

Oswyn Murray "Early Greece" is one I always recommend, dated but eminently readable and I love the organisation but it tends to get knocked off most reading list by Osbourne's "Greece in the Making".

There's also Burn's oddly titled "The Lyric Age of Greece" which I think deals with several areas in a neat fashion.

If you can though, the Cambridge Companions (to both Archaic Greece and Greek Lyric) are really good, they introduce a good few themes of study and you can often find second hand copies rather cheap, I think these are actually very good introductions and surveys.

Obviously all these books have bibliographies etc if you're still curious afterwards.
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Osterdeich » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:42 pm

You're the best, Scribo. Thanks for the recommendations!
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Qimmik » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:23 pm

If Mycenae is within your target range, John Chadwick's The Mycenaean World is a good place to start.

On the Homeric poems, to paraphrase the standard quip about Propertius, there are as many Homers as there are scholars. You should approach anything you read with extreme caution, because it's all speculation based mostly on the absence of evidence. But if you want to experience two wildly divergent views at the extremes of the continuum, you can do no better than to read M.L. West, The Making of the Iliad and Gregory Nagy, The Best of the Achaeans. For an antidote, you might try Barbara Graziosi, Inventing Homer, which is about the emergence of the idea of Homer in the late archaic and classical periods and beyond. A balanced book on the oral nature of the Homeric poems is Foley, Homer's Traditional Art. I highly recommend Jasper Griffin's Homer on Life and Death, which deals with the ideas underlying the Iliad (in particular), and doesn't attempt to sort out the mysterious origins of the poems. Troy and Homer, by Latacz and Bryce, Trojans and Their Neighbors are good introductions to the question of the historicity of the Trojan War, offering divergent views, with brief discussions of the origin of the Iliad. Bryce is more cautious than Latacz.

Loebs: Campbell's Greek Lyric series is very good. You'll want at least vol. I, Sappho and Alcaeus, vol. II, which includes Anacreon and Alcman, and vol. III, which includes Steisichorus, Ibycus and Simonides. The other volumes are post-archaic. You'll also want Gerber's Loeb Greek Elegaic Poetry alongside his Iambic. And Most's Hesiod is a must. Also West's Homeric Hymns. Whatever you do, don't skimp by buying used copies of the older Loeb lyric and iambic volumes, especially those edited by Edmonds. They're awful.

A selection of the more important fragments of archaic Greek poetry of all genres (including lyric, iambic and elegy) except epic, with more extensive notes than the Loebs but no translations, can be found in Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry. Gerber's Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets is useful but very expensive, even in paperback.
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Osterdeich » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:59 pm

Qimmik, thanks a lot! I have copied your post and am going to see what I can pull from Amazon.
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby ailuros » Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:33 pm

Hi Osterdeich,

I'd throw in any of John Boardman's books on archaic Greek pottery/sculpture. I love the pottery from the archaic period probably best of all, and they're a fascinating glimpse into the Greek mind.

Also, let me know, if you would, how you like Hall's A History of the Archaic Greek World. I bought this some months back but have yet to get to it. I have the "companion" P.J. Rhodes volume on the classical Greek world, and would be curious to get your thoughts on Hall. Best wishes. Dan
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Re: Archaic Greek World: good books

Postby Osterdeich » Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:07 am

Hi Dan, Thanks much for the reply. I have noted your recommendations and have added them to my list. I appreciate it. I have not test started the Hall book, but I will indeed come back and report back about my findings. Best wishes to you!
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