9780812994582, 0812994582, 0812984986 (pbk.), 9780812984989 (pbk.)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
"A magisterial account of how a tiny city-state in ancient Greece became history's most influential civilization, from the bestselling author of acclaimed biographies of Cicero, Augustus, and Hadrian."--Amazon.com.
The achievements of Athens have left a profound impact on Western culture. The Athenians invented the first real democracy (albeit one that included only adult males) and, in doing so, transformed the very notion of government. They established the concept of philosophy, raising issues with which today's thinkers still wrestle, and shaped the arts of tragedy and comedy, architecture and sculpture, as well as the study of history. Just how did a tiny community of some two hundred thousand souls manage to give birth to towering geniuses across the range of human endeavor and lay the foundations of our contemporary intellectual universe? With Athens itself as his protagonist, Anthony attempts to answer this question. Filled with tales of adventure and astounding reversals of fortune, this book celebrates the city-state that transformed the world--from the democratic revolution that marked its beginning, through the city's political and cultural golden age, to its decline into the ancient equivalent of a modern-day university town. Everitt also fills his history with unforgettable portraits of the talented, tricky, ambitious, and unscrupulous Athenians who fueled the city's rise: Themistocles, the brilliant naval strategist who led the Greeks to a decisive victory over their Persian enemies; Pericles, arguably the greatest Athenian statesman of them all; and the wily Alcibiades, who changed his political allegiance several times during the course of the Peloponnesian War--and died in a hail of assassins' arrows. Here also are riveting you-are-there accounts of the milestone battles that defined the Hellenic world: Thermopylae, Marathon, and Salamis among them. Everitt combines erudite, thoughtful historical analysis with stirring narrative set pieces that capture the colorful, dramatic, and exciting world of ancient Greece. Although the history of Athens is less well known than that of other world empires, the city-state's allure would inspire Alexander the Great, the Romans, and even America's own Founding Fathers. It's fair to say that the Athenians made possible the world in which we live today.--Adapted from dust jacket.