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© 2016,G.W. Bowersock, The New York Review of Books "There is scarcely anything on which he does not offer an original aperçu, sometimes illuminating, sometimes simply provocative, but always worth reading... Jenkyns's view of ancient literature is Olympian." The writings of the Greeks and Romans form the bedrock of Western culture. Inventing the molds for histories, tragedies, and philosophies, while pioneering radical new forms of epic and poetry, the Greeks and Romans created the literary world we still inhabit today. Writing with verve and insight, distinguished classicist Richard Jenkyns explores a thousand years of classical civilization, carrying readers from the depths of the Greek dark ages through the glittering heights of Rome's empire. Jenkyns begins with Homer and the birth of epic poetry before exploring the hypnotic poetry of Pindar, Sappho, and others from the Greek dark ages. Later, in Athens's classical age, Jenkyns shows the radical nature of Sophocles's choice to portray Ajax as a psychologically wounded warrior, how Aeschylus developed tragedy, and how Herodotus, in "inventing history," brought to narrative an epic and tragic quality. We meet the strikingly modern figure of Virgil, struggling to mirror epic art in an age of empire, and experience the love poems of Catullus, who imbued verse with obsessive passion as never before. Even St. Paul and other early Christian writers are artfully grounded here in their classical literary context. A dynamic and comprehensive introduction to Greek and Roman literature, Jenkyns's Classical Literature is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the classics--and the extraordinary origins of Western culture. Library Journal, STARRED review "[R]ich, witty, perceptive, and brief... One of the best introductions available to the general reader." Christopher B. Krebs (author of A Most Dangerous Book ), The Wall Street Journal "[A]ccessible and enjoyable... few scholars are better positioned to embark on such a journey than Mr. Jenkyns.
© 2013,One of the remarkable facts about the history of Western culture is that we are still in a position to read large amounts of the literature produced in classical Greece and Rome despite the fact that for at least a millennium and a half all copies had to be produced by hand and were subject to the hazards of fire, flood, and war. This book explains how the texts survived and gives an account of the reasons why it was thought worthwhile to spend the necessary effort to preserve them for future generations. In the second edition a section of notes was included, and a new chapter was added to deal with some aspects of scholarship since the Renaissance. In the third edition (1991), the authors responded to the urgent need to take account of the very large number of discoveries in this rapidly advancing field of knowledge by substantially revising or enlarging certain sections. The last two decades have seen further advances, and this revised edition is designed to take account of them.