Greeks and Barbarians
How did the Greeks view foreign peoples? This book considers what the Greeks thought of foreigners and their religions, cultures and politics, and what these beliefs and opinions reveal about the Greeks.
The Greeks were occasionally intrigued by the customs and religions of the many different peoples with whom they came into contact; more often they were disdainful or dismissive, tending to regard non-Greeks as at best inferior, and at worst as candidates for conquest and enslavement. Facing up to this less attractive aspect of the classical tradition is vital, Thomas Harrison argues, to seeing both what the ancient world was really like and the full nature of its legacy in the modern. In this book he brings together outstanding European and American scholarship to show the difference and complexity of Greek representations of foreign peoples - or barbarians, as the Greeks called them - and how these representations changed over time.
The book looks first at the main sources: the Histories of Herodotus, Greek tragedy, and Athenian art. Part II examines how the Greeks distinguished themselves from barbarians through myth, language and religion. Part III considers Greek representations of two different barbarian peoples - the allegedly decadent and effeminate Persians, and the Egyptians, proverbial for their religious wisdom. In part IV three chapters trace the development of the Greek-barbarian antithesis in later history: in nineteenth-century scholarship, in Byzantine and modern Greece, and in western intellectual history.
Of the twelve chapters six are published in English for the first time. The editor has provided an extensive general introduction, as well as introductions to the parts. The book contains two maps, a guide to further reading and an intellectual chronology. All passages of ancient languages are translated, and difficult terms are explained.
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The Persians do not build temples or make images “ and they charge with folly those who do such things , because , I think , they do not hold the gods anthropomorphic , as the Greeks ( obviously ) [ katá nep ] do ” ( 1. 131 ) .
Similarly the Egyptians have invented more things than any other people — including altars , divine images ... The Scythians by contrast have invented only Êv tò ubyiotov [ one very great thing ] , the one great art of not being ...
Each time that things get a little organised , and writing starts to take over from memory , a cataclysm arrives and forgetfulness spreads with the waves . Egypt , on the other hand , from the vantage point of its continuous archives ...
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General Introduction I
3 the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden fig 4 the Museum
of Fine Arts Boston fig 5 the Archaeological Institute of
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