Review: Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks

Daily Life of the Ancient GreeksDaily Life of the Ancient Greeks by Robert Garland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks does just what it says on the cover: it provides an overview of the customs, religion, politics, aesthetics, and sensibilities of the ancient Greeks (with focus on the Classical period). The author, Robert Garland, draws heavily upon The Illiad and The Odyssey, the works of Hesiod, and of course archeological evidence to establish this portrait of Greek life, and is refreshingly resistant to making any assumptions that cannot be proven out by one of these sources.

This is definitely one of the more accessible work of history I’ve read, and the author does a really excellent (and academically responsible) job of reminding you that the bulk of our evidence is coming from Athens, and that one city-state among hundreds can hardly be said to be entirely representative of Greek culture at the time. He also reminds us that because the works left to us by the Athenians are mostly the product of men, our historical picture is almost certainly skewed, and we can’t be certain of exactly what life as a woman in ancient Greece was like.

If you have an interest in the daily workings of ancient Greece, then I’d highly recommend this. As historical reading goes, it’s pretty light, even amusing at times.

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