We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens

A History of Ancient Greece

Robin Waterfield

Publication Date - 06 March 2020

ISBN: 9780190095765

544 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock


"We Greeks are one in blood and one in language; we have temples to the gods and religious rites in common, and a common way of life." So the fifth-century historian Herodotus has some Athenians declare, in explanation of why they would never betray their fellow Greeks to the enemy, the "barbarian" Persians. And he might have added further common features, such as clothing, foodways, and political institutions. But if the Greeks knew that they were kin, why did many of them side with the Persians against fellow Greeks, and why, more generally, is ancient Greek history so often the history of internecine wars and other forms of competition with one another? This is the question acclaimed historian Robin Waterfield sets out to explore in this magisterial history of ancient Greece.

With more information, more engagingly presented, than any similar work, this is the best single-volume account of ancient Greece in more than a generation. Waterfield gives a comprehensive narrative of seven hundred years of history, from the emergence of the Greeks around 750 BCE to the Roman conquest of the last of the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms in 30 BCE. Equal weight is given to all phases of Greek history -- the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. But history is not just facts; it is also a matter of how we interpret the evidence. Without compromising the readability of the book, Waterfield incorporates the most recent scholarship by classical historians and archaeologists and asks his readers to think critically about Greek history. A brilliant, up-to-date account of ancient Greece, suitable for history buffs and university students alike, Creators, Conquerors, and Citizens presents a compelling and comprehensive story of this remarkable civilization's disunity, underlying cultural solidarity, and eventual political unification.


  • An exciting and rich narrative of the cradle of Western civilization
  • Highlights the birth of democracy, tragedy, philosophy, science, and other Greek achievements
  • Provides more detail and a larger chronological scope than most general histories of ancient Greece

About the Author(s)

Robin Waterfield is an independent scholar and translator, living in southern Greece. In addition to more than twenty-five translations of works of Greek literature, he is the author of numerous books, including Dividing the Spoils and Taken at the Flood.


"Waterfield's book is a pleasure to read: his prose is lively, entertaining, humane, and well researched, and contains a wealth of detail for both student and educator. This work could provide a valuable central text for a college-level Greek history course" -- Mik Larsen, The History Teacher

"A highly readable and stimulating introduction to a fascinating area of history. Waterfield's accessible but still authoritative tone brings the sights, sounds and citizens vividly to life. This evocative book manages to tread an often fine line between storytelling and scholarly history with a lightness of touch that belies the depth and scope of its approach ... This engaging one-volume history will appeal to a great many readers." -- All About History

"As one might expect, the scholarship is impeccable. Waterfield touches on a staggering array of topics, succinctly reviewing the evidence and summarizing the most recent scholarly work.... Judged by the readability of the prose, the quality of the background scholarship, and the comprehensiveness of the author's vision, the book must be considered a great success." -- The Classical Review

"Waterfield's searching approach to the nature of Greek identity transforms this otherwise highly traditional, chronological history into something more revelatory... suitably authoritative and measured... wide-ranging, but enlivened by its detail." --Daisy Dunn, Sunday Times [London]

"[Waterfield] sets out to trace seven and a half centuries of Greek history (from roughly the first Olympiad to Rome's annexation of Egypt), recognizing the diversity of the Greek diaspora, while explicating many of the social and cultural practices that lent it a degree of unity, and tracing innovations in areas as diverse as philosophy and siege warfare. It is a mark of his skill that he succeeds so brilliantly... This book provides an invaluable resource for anyone wishing a comprehensive account of Greek history and culture, while reading lists point the way for those who wish to find out more. W.'s masterly review of how tensions between cultural unity and political disunity unfolded over eight hundred years is to be thoroughly recommended."--David Stuttard, Classics for All

"Waterfield's account is an engaging, sometimes original chronicle... Highly recommended."--CHOICE Reviews

"As one might expect, the scholarship is impeccable. Waterfield touches on a staggering array of topics, succinctly reviewing the evidence and summarizing the most recent scholarly work." -- Andrew T. Alwine, College of Charleston

Table of Contents

    Preface and Acknowledgements
    Conventions and Abbreviations
    List of Illustrations
    List of Maps
    Chronology and King Lists
    General Maps

    Introduction I: Historical Background
    Introduction II: Environmental Background

    ACT I: The Archaic Period (c. 750-480): The Formation of States
    1. The Emergence of the Greeks in the Mediterranean
    2. Aristocracy and the Archaic State
    3. The Archaic Greek World
    4. Athens in the Seventh and Sixth Centuries
    5. The Athenian Democratic Revolution
    6. Sparta
    7. Greek Religion
    8. The Persian Wars
    9. The Greeks at War

    ACT II: The Classical Period (479-323): A Tale, Mainly, of Two Cities
    10. The Delian League
    11. The Economy of Greece
    12. Periclean Athens
    13. Women, Sexuality, and Family Life
    14. The Peloponnesian War
    15. Socrates and the Thirty Tyrants
    16. The Futility of War
    17. Athens and Macedon
    18. Alexander the Great
    19. The Instability of Syracuse

    ACT III: The Hellenistic Period (323-30): Greeks, Macedonians, and Romans
    20. The Successor Kingdoms
    21. Greeks and Macedonians in the Third Century
    22. The Greek Cities in the New World
    23. Life and Culture in the Hellenistic World
    24. The Roman Conquest
    25. A Feat of Imagination

    Recommended Reading