Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Brief History Of Ancient Greece - Sarah B. Pomeroy

A Brief History Of Ancient Greece: Politics, Society And Culture
Sarah B. Pomeroy et. al.
Oxford University Press
Copyright: 2008

Ancient Greece: A Political, Social And Cultural History
Sarah B. Pomeroy et al.
Oxford University Press
Copyright 1999

I'm classing both books together as Librarything counts them as the same book. I don't see much of a difference between them either.

I've had both as textbooks over the years, with the most recent of the two being this past fall (2008). While I liked it, finding it fairly readable, the teacher spent much of the class picking the book apart. I don't agree with everything he's said, but he did have a point: the book is quite inconsistent at various points:
For example, when it's talking about the Spartans, in the first paragraph the book says that the Helots were not slaves, then in the next paragraph it's talking about their enslavement. There are other examples as well.

Another thing I found frustrating was the tendency for the book to make claims without stating the evidence it was using. That and the lack of dates. I took to reading it this morning with the Oxford Classical Dictionary in front of me so I could find the specific dates for events and write them in the margins. Otherwise it wasn't going to be much help for the final exam.

Still, it does give an understandable, if brief, overview of Greek history from the neolithic down through the Hellenic periods, with each era given it's own chapter. Obviously both versions of the text are good for introductory courses at the university level at least, although they need to be backed up with some more specific books as well. But then, isn't that usually the case?

Both books are likely to stay in my collection as I've added notes to both and they work well for double-checking some fact or another.

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