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The Greeks

History, Culture, and Society

Third Edition

Ian Morris and Barry B. Powell

Publication Date - 12 November 2021

ISBN: 9780197586891

608 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


In The Greeks, Ian Morris and Barry B. Powell try to see ancient Greece as a whole: not just a narrative of events or an overview of culture, but history and culture taken together. From ancient Greece comes the modern conviction that through open discussion and the exercise of reason a society of free citizens can solve the problems that challenge it. In one period of Greek history, a society just so governed produced timeless masterpieces of literature, art, and rational thought at the same time that it waged terrible wars and committed countless cruelties. If we understand the past, we can live better in the present, but the past is hard to understand. In The Greeks, Morris and Powell offer new ways of thinking about old problems.

New to this Edition

  • Extensively revised sections on the prehistoric, Archaic, and Hellenistic periods.
  • The entire photo program has been made over with new illustrations. Many of the photos can be viewed in color in the enhanced eBook.
  • All of the maps have been redrawn for improved clarity and are in color in the enhanced eBook.
  • The enhanced eBook provides students with flashcards, quizzes, and note-taking guides.
  • A Computerized Test Bank and PowerPoint slides of all the photos and maps are available to adopters.


  • Offers a holistic view of ancient Greece: not just a narrative of events, or an overview of culture, but history and culture taken together.
  • Provides a broad, chronological framing of ancient Greek history from the end of the Ice Age to the irresistible progress of Roman armies across the Mediterranean.
  • Places the Greeks as part of a larger Mediterranean world. The authors instead integrate the Greeks of Sicily and southern Italy into the narrative, showing how thoroughly linked developments were in eastern and western Greece.
  • In contrast to older accounts that present non-Greek peoples like the Persians and Carthaginians as cardboard characters, the authors make clear their own motivations and their own contributions to the larger story.
  • Generous quotations from ancient authors that help the reader understand who the Greeks were and what they accomplished.
  • To assist student readers, the authors provide a pronunciation guide for the first time difficult names appear in the text, and they put important names, places, and concepts in bold letters.

About the Author(s)

Ian Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics at Stanford University.

Barry B. Powell is the Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Table of Contents

    About the Authors
    Pronunciation Guide

    1 A Small, Far-Off Land
    Historical Sketch
    Why Study the Greeks?
    Who Were the Greeks?
    The Structure of This Book: History, Culture, and Society
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    2 Country and People
    Greek Geography, Climate, and Agriculture
    Health and Disease
    Economic Growth in Ancient Greece
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    3 The Greeks at Home
    Gender Relationships: Ideals and Realities
    Adults and Children
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    4 The Greeks Before History, 12,000-1200 BC
    The End of the Last Ice Age, 13,000-9500 BC
    The Origins of Agriculture, 9500-5000 BC
    Neolithic Society and Economy, 5000-3000 BC
    The Early Bronze Age, 3000-2300 BC
    The Middle Bronze Age, 2300-1800 BC
    The Age of Minoan Palaces, 2000-1600 BC
    The Rise of Mycenaean Greece, 1750-1500 BC
    The End of Minoan Civilization, 1600-1400 BC
    Mycenaean Greece: Archaeology, Linear B, and Homer
    The End of the Bronze Age, c. 1200 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    5 The Dark Age, 1200-800 BC
    The Collapse of the Old States
    Life Among the Ruins
    Dark Age "Heroes"
    Art and Trade in the Dark Age
    The Eighth-Century BC Renaissance: Economy
    The Eighth-Century BC Renaissance: Society
    The Eighth-Century BC Renaissance: Culture
    Key Terms

    6 Homer
    The Homeric Question
    Milman Parry and Oral Poetry
    The Oral Poet in Homer
    Heinrich Schliemann and the Trojan War
    The Tragic Iliad
    Homer and the Invention of Plot
    The Comic Odyssey
    Odysseus and Homer
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    7 Religion and Myth
    Definitions of Religion and Myth
    Hesiod's Myth of the Origin of the Gods
    Greek Religion in History
    Forms of Greek Religious Practice
    Hesiod's Myth of Sacrifice
    Gods and Other Mysterious Beings
    Chthonic Religion
    The Ungrateful Dead and the Laying of the Ghost
    Ecstatic and Mystical Religion
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    8 Archaic Greece, 800-480 BC: Economy, Society, Politics
    Government by Oligarchy
    Elite Culture
    The Tyrants
    The Structure of Archaic States
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    9 The Archaic Cultural Revolution, 800-480 BC
    Natural Philosophy in Miletus
    Pythagoras: Philosophy and Social Science in the West
    Hecataeus, Herodotus, and Historiê
    Lyric Poetry
    Material Culture
    Art and Thought in Sixth-Century BC Greece
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    10 A Tale of Two Archaic Cities: Sparta and Athens, 800-480 BC
    Spartiates, Perioikoi, and Helots
    Plutarch's Sparta
    Spartan Government
    The Seventh-Century bc Crisis
    Pisistratus and the Consequences of Solon's Reforms
    Athens Submits to Persia
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    11 Persia and the Greeks, 550-490 BC
    Empires of the Ancient Near East
    Cyrus and the Rise of Persia, 559-530 BC
    Cambyses and Darius, 530-521 BC
    Persia's Northwest Frontier and the Ionian Revolt, 521-494 BC
    The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    12 The Great War, 480-479 BC
    Storm Clouds in the West
    Storm Clouds in the East
    The Storm Breaks in the West: The Battle of Himera, 480 BC
    The Storm Breaks in the East: The Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC
    The Fall of Athens
    The Battle of Salamis
    The End of the Storm: Battles of Plataea and Mycale, 479 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    13 Democracy and Empire: Athens and Syracuse, 479-431 BC
    The Expansion of the Syracusan State, 479-461 BC
    The Western Democracies, 461-433 BC
    Economic Growth in Western Greece, 479-433 BC
    Cimon and the Creation of the Athenian Empire, 478-461 BC
    The First Peloponnesian War, 460-446 BC
    Pericles and the Consolidation of Athenian Power, 446-433 BC
    Economic Growth in the Aegean
    The Edge of the Abyss, 433-431 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    14 Art and Thought in the Fifth Century BC
    Material Culture
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    15 Fifth-Century BC Drama
    The City Dionysia
    The Theater of Dionysus
    Narrative Structure
    Character and Other Dimensions of Tragedy
    Tragic Plots
    The Origins of Comedy
    The Plots of Old Comedy
    The Structures of Old Comedy
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    16 The Peloponnesian War and Its Aftermath, 431-399 BC
    The Archidamian War, 431-421 BC
    The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, 421-413 BC
    Sicily and the Carthaginian War, 412-404 BC
    The Ionian War, 412-404 BC
    Aftermath, 404-399 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    17 The Greeks Between Persia and Carthage, 399-360 BC
    Sparta's Empire, 404-360 BC
    Economy, Society, and War
    Sparta's Collapse, 371 BC
    Anarchy in the Aegean, 371-360 BC
    Carthage and Syracuse, 404-360 BC
    The Golden Age of Syracuse, 393-367 BC
    Anarchy in the West, 367-345 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    18 Greek Culture in the Fourth Century BC
    Material Culture
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    19 Philip and Alexander the Great, Warlords of Macedon
    Macedonia Before Philip II
    Philip's Struggle for Survival, 359-357 BC
    Philip Consolidates His Position, 357-352 BC
    Philip Seeks a Greek Peace, 352-346 BC
    The Struggle for a Greek Peace, 346-338 BC
    Philip's End, 338-336 BC
    Alexander the King
    The Conquest of Persia, 334-330 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    20 Alexander the God
    The Fall of the Great King Darius, 331-330 BC
    Alexander in the East, 330-324 BC
    War in India, 327-326 BC
    The Long March Home, 326-324 BC
    The Last Days, 324-323 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    21 The Greek Kingdoms in the Hellenistic Century, 323-220 BC
    The Wars of the Successors, 323-301 BC
    The Hellenistic World After the Battle of Ipsus
    The Seleucid Empire
    Ptolemaic Egypt
    The Antigonids: Macedonia
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    22 The Greek Poleis in the Hellenistic Century, 323-220 BC
    Impoverishment and Depopulation in Mainland Greece
    Athens in Decline
    Sparta's Counterrevolution
    The Western Greeks: Agathocles of Syracuse (361-289/8 BC)
    Pyrrhus of Epirus
    Hellenistic Society: The Weakening of Egalitarianism
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    23 Hellenistic Culture, 323-30 BC
    Hellenistic Historians
    Material Culture
    Hellenistic Philosophy
    Quantitative Science in the Hellenistic Age
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    24 The Coming of Rome, 220-30 BC
    The Rise of Rome, 753-280 BC
    Rome, Carthage, and the Western Greeks, 280-200 BC
    Rome Breaks the Hellenistic Empires, 200-167 BC
    Consequences of the Wars: The Greeks
    Consequences of the Wars: The Romans
    Rome's Military Revolution
    The Agony of the Aegean, 99-70 BC
    Pompey's Greek Settlement, 70-62 BC
    The End of Hellenistic Egypt, 61-30 BC
    Key Terms
    Further Reading

    25 Conclusion
    The Bronze Age (ca. 3000-1200 BC; Chapter 4)
    The Dark Age (ca. 1200-800 BC; Chapter 5)
    The Archaic Period (c. 800-480 BC; Chapters 6-10)
    The Classical Period (c. 480-323 BC; Chapters 11-18)
    The Macedonian Takeover (c. 350-323 BC; Chapters 19-22)
    The Hellenistic Period (c. 323-30 BC; Chapters 22-24)

    Index and Glossary