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Athens: A Portrait of the City in Its Golden Age

Christian Meier; Translator-Robert Kimber

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ISBN 10: 0805048405 / ISBN 13: 9780805048407
Published by Metropolitan Books, 1998
Condition: Collectible: Like New Hardcover
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1998 stated first edition with full number line hardback no marks and is in great condition with protective mylar dust coverAND AS ALWAYS SHIPPED IN 24 HOURS; and emailed to you a USPS tracking number on all orders; all books are sanitized and cleaned for your protection before mailing. PLEASE NOTE OVER SEAS BUYERS if the book extra large or heavy there will be additional postage due to the new US Postage rates. Bookseller Inventory # 110102001C

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Athens: A Portrait of the City in Its Golden...

Publisher: Metropolitan Books

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Collectible: Like New

Edition: First Edition .

About this title


A lively and accessible history of Athens's rise to greatness, from one of the foremost classical historians.

The definitive account of Athens in the age of Pericles, Christian Meier's gripping study begins with the Greek triumph over Persia at the Battle of Salamis, one of the most significant military victories in history. Meier shows how that victory decisively established Athens's military dominance in the Mediterranean and made possible its rise to preeminence in almost every field of human eavor--commerce, science, philosophy, art, architecture, and literature. Within seventy-five years, Athens had become the most original and innovative civilization the ancient world ever produced.

With elegant narrative style, Meier traces the birth of democracy and the flourishing of Greek culture in the fifth century B.C., as well as Athens' slow decline and defeat in the Peloponnesian War. The great figures--from politicians and generals like Themistocles and Alcibiades to the philosophers Socrates and Plato--emerge as flesh-and-blood human beings, firmly rooted in their times and places. This is history in the tradition of Simon Schama and Barbara Tuchman--learned, accessible, and beautifully written.


Ancient Athens is remembered today as the cradle of a civilization that stands as an ideal of the reasoned life, as the source of radical transformations of thought that remain with us today in ideas of citizenship, freedom, political organization, and social obligation. Christian Meier gently reminds us, however, that in this context, Athens was a collective of landed citizens numbering fewer than 150,000 individuals spanning four generations in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.

Meier's sweeping narrative begins with the decisive Athenian victory at the battle of Salamis, when a hastily assembled fleet held off the much mightier navy of the Persian emperor, Xerxes. It was in war, Meier suggests, that Athens first came to see itself as a place unlike any other. When they were not battling Persians, Athenians often fought neighboring city-states over, say, who would have the right to host a round of Olympic games or control shipping lanes. (The Athenians, quipped Thucydides, "were born into the world to take no rest themselves and to give none to others.") The Athenian penchant for fighting with their neighbors--and, when neighbors were otherwise occupied, amongst themselves--led to the city-state's decline at the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 B.C., when Meier's saga draws to a close.

Meier brings a flair for storytelling to his thoroughgoing portrait of Athens's shining moment, with a cast of characters strong on well-known figures like Solon, Alcibiades, Euripides, and Socrates. Meier also writes with self-effacing modesty, noting that his is but one interpretation among many and that history that, as his does, "obeys the law of narrative sequence [is] the most time-honored perspective for curtailing understanding." Yet Athens does nothing of the sort, offering instead a fine overview of the complexities of Athenian life from which every reader of classical history will profit. --Gregory McNamee

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