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Love, Sex & Tragedy

How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives

"If you do not know where you come from, you will always be a child." Cicero wasn’t talking about being a child in the sense of enjoying life in a state of ignorant bliss. He was, rather, adamant that those who don’t understand their origins are consigned to a life without power or authority, without the ability to act fully in the world. Love, Sex & Tragedy is acclaimed classicist Simon Goldhill’s corrective to our state of ignorance. Lifting the veil on our inheritance of classical traditions, Goldhill offers a witty, engrossing survey of the Greek and Roman roots of everything from our overwhelming mania for "hard bodies" to our political systems.

Marx, Clark Gable, George W. Bush, Oscar Wilde, and Freud—Goldhill’s range here is enormous, and he takes great delight in tracing both follies and fundamental philosophical questions through the centuries and continents to the birthplace of Western civilization as we know it. Underlying his brisk and learned excursions through history and art is the foundational belief, following Cicero, that learning about the classics makes a critical difference to our self-understanding. Whether we are considering the role of religion in contemporary society, our expectations about the boundaries between public and private life, or even how we spend our free time, recognizing the role of the classics is integral to our comprehension of modern life and our place in it.

When Goldhill asks "Who do you think you are?" he presents us with the rarest of opportunities: the chance to let him lead us, firmly but with a wink, back two thousand years to where we are.

Read an excerpt.

345 pages | 50 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2004

Ancient Studies

Culture Studies

History: Ancient and Classical History, General History

Table of Contents

A Life in Ruins
i who do you think you are?
1. The Perfect Body
2. A Man’s Thing?
3. The Female Body – Soft and Spongy, Shaved and Coy
4. His and Hers – A Love Story?
5. Greek Love
6. A Man Is a Man Is a . . .
7. Longing for Sappho
8. Doing What Comes Naturally?
ii where do you think you are going?
1. The Empire of Religion
2. Superstars of the Flesh
3. Sex and the City
4. What’s Athens to Jerusalem?
5. Greek is Heresy!
6. Knowing the Answer
iii what do you think should happen?
1. Does Politics Need History?
2. Athenian Democracy – Changing the Map
3. The Good Citizen
4. The Critics of Democracy – Experts and Education
5. A Question of Betrayal
6. The Will of the People
iv what do you want to do?
1. That’s Entertainment!
2. The Question of Tragedy
3. The Gladiator and the Baying Crowd – ‘At My Command, Unleash Hell’
4. The Last Supper
v where do you think you come from?
1. A Greece of the Imagination
2. Founding Fathers – From Keats to Hollywood and Back
3. Finding the Fatherland – Where Freud’s Oedipus Comes From
4. The Mother of All Stories – The Greek Oedipus
5. The Myth of Origins
6. History Today
Further Reading
Picture Acknowledgements

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