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Review: Hamilton’s the Greek Way

The Greek Way
Edith Hamilton

This is a really bad book. Like, really bad. Well, perhaps bad isn’t the right word. Hopelessly dated and irrelevant might be better. Hamilton (author of the excellent introduction to Mythology) attempts to explain the unique and superior nature of ancient Greece through a review of its culture and comparison to the uncultured “east”, ruled by dictators, or the culture of today. Hamilton is obsessed with placing national cultures in boxes (if you’re western, if you’re “eastern”, its all the same shit to her).

The “east” care not for the individual soul, as Buddhism is a religion of personal renunciation. The French are our times great thinkers, while the British are our great poets.

Seriously, she talks like this.

I almost feel bad for her, so myopic is her view of the world. There is Greece in its democratic glory, the flower of all that is good in our world. And then there is everyone else, easily placed in buckets by nationality or region, and dismissed as inferior. Its embarrassing to read and frankly I wish I’d stopped after the first fifty pages. The only reason I can think this would be worth your time is if you’re a scholar of outdated modes of relating to the classical world.
Otherwise, not recommended.

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