Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean

Course No. 3300
Professor Robert Garland, Ph.D.
Colgate University
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Course No. 3300
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Course Overview

In the 1st century B.C., Rome's matchless armies consolidated control over the entire Mediterranean world, and Greece lay vanquished along with scores of other formerly independent lands—yet the Roman poet Horace saw something special in Greece when he wrote "Greece, the captive, made her savage victor captive."

  • What did Horace mean by this paradoxical quote?
  • What did Greek culture symbolize to the militarily successful Romans?
  • How did the Greeks, in turn, view their Latin-speaking rulers?
  • How did these two independent branches of ancient civilization develop and then become inextricably entwined, with implications for all of subsequent Western culture?

The answers to these and other intriguing questions require an understanding not just of Rome but of Greece as well. Integrated approaches to teaching Greek and Roman history, however, are a rarity in academia. Most scholars are historians of either Greek or Roman history and perform research solely in that specific field, an approach that author and award-winning Professor Robert Garland considers questionable.

"It's only by studying the two cultures in connection with each other that we can come to an understanding of that unique cultural entity that is 'Greco-Roman,'" he notes.

Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean is an impressive and rare opportunity to understand the two dominant cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world in relation to one another. Over the course of 36 lectures, Professor Garland explores the many ways in which these two very different cultures intersected, coincided, and at times collided.

Explore Greco-Roman Culture

The relationship between the Greeks and the Romans has virtually no parallel in world history. Greece and Rome's relationship resembled a marriage: two distinct personalities competing in some areas, sharing in others, and sometimes creating an entirely new synthesis of the two civilizations.

This synthesis created the extraordinary culture that we call Greco-Roman: a unique fusion of civilizations that encompasses statecraft, mythology, language, philosophy, fine arts, architecture, science, and much else. "The term suggests there was an unbreakable tie between the two cultures," says Professor Garland. "And indeed there was. What would Rome have been without the imprint of the Greeks, and what would we know about the Greeks were it not for the Romans?"

Professor Garland cites three critical reasons why an understanding of the Greco-Roman world is so important to us here in the 21st century:

  • The connections between the two civilizations remind us that culture is not created and owned by a single people, but is enriched through the contributions of others.
  • The relationship between the Greeks and Romans is somewhat analogous to the relationship between the British and the Americans.
  • An integrated study of the Greeks and Romans helps us understand how each profoundly influenced the other.

Follow Twin Historical Paths

Greece and Rome begins by asking who the Greeks and Romans were, what their images of themselves were, and how they organized their societies. From there, you explore their first historical interactions through trade and, inevitably, war, as Roman influence began to spread into the eastern Mediterranean.

The world of the Greeks that the Romans encountered during the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C. was the spectacular Hellenistic civilization created by the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was a unified Greek culture with stunning artistic and intellectual achievements that thoroughly captivated the Romans.

Roman political interactions with the Greeks, however, were another matter.

You follow the long series of wars in which the Romans at first preserved Greek independence and then, having grown impatient with Greek ingratitude, duplicity, and infighting, eventually resorted to the efficient brutality for which Rome's legions were renowned. In 30 B.C., with the death of Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemaic Greek rulers, Rome had conquered not only every Greek land but the entire Mediterranean world.

A Rich Cultural Partnership

For the next half millennium, Greece and Rome were inseparable. "There's never been anything quite like it," Professor Garland says. "Greece and Rome are two cultures joined at the hip, arguably the most special and the most important cultural relationship in all of history."

Greece and Rome goes beyond the political and military stories and immerses you in the details of life in Classical antiquity. You investigate Greek and Roman approaches to human universals such as death, leisure, and sex. You also witness the emergence and development of an integrated Greco-Roman culture as reflected in religion, art, architecture, medicine, science, technology, literature, education, and philosophy.

For example:

  • Much of what we think of today as Classical Greek art is, in fact, copies commissioned by wealthy Roman connoisseurs.
  • Romans displayed a love-hate relationship with Greece, epitomized by the Roman politician Cato the Elder, who was deeply immersed in Greek culture but who publicly denounced its corrupting influence.
  • Educated Romans were predominantly bilingual, speaking also Greek.
  • The prolific writer Plutarch recognized the value of examining the Greeks and Romans alongside one another without prejudice and wrote a celebrated set of parallel biographies of famous Greeks and Romans.

Despite all their similarities, Greeks and Romans were different enough that each engaged in cultural stereotyping of the other, which amounted to latent nationalism. Throughout the lectures, you explore some of their more substantive cultural differences, including:

  • Religion: Greek religion was anthropomorphic, with deities displaying human form and manner. Early Romans did not believe in deities but rather in numina—divine powers that had precise functions but no physical identity.
  • Views of foreigners: Romans were far more diverse in origin than the Greeks, which made them more open to foreigners. This had profound effects, as the Romans used grants of citizenship as a political tool to cement and expand the Roman Empire.
  • Construction: The largest structures in the Greek world were theaters, some of which could hold 20,000 to 40,000 people. The Romans had a more grandiose concept of public space, as seen in the Circus Maximus, in which 250,000 spectators could assemble to watch a chariot race.
  • Thinking: The Greeks delighted in analyzing the world and asking questions about the nature of existence, the constitution of the ideal state, and the definition of virtue. For their part, the Romans, though they also studied philosophy, were content to run the world.

An Expert in the Classical World

Professor Garland has spent his entire career immersed in classical studies and in the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome.

His academic research focuses on the cultural, religious, social, and political histories of these two civilizations. He has written numerous books on subjects ranging from the politics of Athenian religion and disability in the Greco-Roman world to daily life in ancient Greece and the idea of celebrity in antiquity.

Delight in the wide variety of sources—literature, archaeology, the visual arts, coinage, inscriptions—that he draws upon in order to assemble a fascinating and complex picture of these two great civilizations. Value his mastery of detail on his subject, as he helps you to reach important conclusions from an analysis of the shared cultural features of Greece and Rome. And appreciate how Dr. Garland always keeps Greece and Rome focused on how this material affects us in the present day.

"I profoundly believe that Greece and Rome are inside us, both as destructive and as creative forces," he says. "They've taught us our ways of being a human being and of seeing the world. We are their heirs and their guardians, a heavy but invigorating challenge."

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36 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Who Were the Greeks? Who Were the Romans?
    We examine the historical origins of the Greeks and Romans, which is still an open question among scholars. For their part, the Greeks and Romans had their own ideas about where they came from, which tells us who they thought they were. x
  • 2
    Trade and Travel in the Mediterranean
    Trade and travel were widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin from early times onward. It was largely through sea travel that Romans and Greeks came into contact—directly through personal exchanges and indirectly through artifacts. x
  • 3
    Democratic or Republican
    Both Greeks and Romans had democratic tendencies and a predisposition to favor the aristocracy. Community, however, was more broadly defined among Romans, who came to accept the principle of universalism that was alien to the Greeks. This would have profound consequences. x
  • 4
    Law and Order
    It was the Greeks of Athens who first established trial by jury and sought to differentiate crime in terms of motive. It was the Romans who established the principle that the law is an organic entity that has to adapt to changing social, economic, and political conditions. x
  • 5
    Less than Fully Human
    Both the Greeks and Romans denied full human status to those at the bottom of the social ladder—slaves, foreigners, women, and the disabled. Roman society, however, offered far more opportunities for advancement for hard-working slaves than Greek society did. x
  • 6
    Close Encounters, 750–272 B.C.
    From very early in their history, the Romans were subject to Greek influence, both directly from Greek colonists who had settled in southern Italy and indirectly from the Etruscans, Rome's neighbors to the northwest, who were in contact with Greek traders. x
  • 7
    The Velvet Glove, 272–190 B.C.
    After defeating Carthage in the Second Punic War, Rome turned its attention to the Hellenistic world of the eastern Mediterranean. x
  • 8
    How the Two Polytheisms (Almost) Merged
    Greek religion made a deep impact on the Romans, whose animistic beliefs differed from the anthropomorphic pantheon of the Greeks. The Romans assimilated not only Greek gods, but also deities from many of the other cultures with which they came in contact. x
  • 9
    The Iron Fist, 190–146 B.C.
    In 190 B.C. the Romans abandoned their "velvet glove" policy toward the Greeks and adopted a more hard-line attitude, in which self-interest came increasingly to the fore. Over the next 45 years, almost the whole Greek-speaking world came under Roman domination. x
  • 10
    The Last Hellenistic Dynasts, 146–31 B.C.
    We trace the dying embers of Greek independence down to Octavian's defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 B.C., which marked the end of the Hellenistic period. Rome was now the undisputed ruler of the entire Mediterranean world. x
  • 11
    Why the Greeks Lost, Why the Romans Won
    The Greeks lost to the Romans for several reasons: They failed to grasp Rome's determination to bring stability to the region, Rome had a more efficient military machine, and the Greeks' endemic factiousness left them hopelessly divided. x
  • 12
    Philhellenism and Hellenophobia
    Relations between the Greeks and Romans were highly ambivalent, with elements of both philhellenism and hellenophobia on the part of the Romans. But in general, elite Romans deeply appreciated the achievements of Greek civilization. x
  • 13
    The Two Languages
    Greek was already a highly sophisticated vehicle of literary expression at a time when Latin was still in its infancy. By the 2nd century B.C., literary Latin was developing rapidly. Because the Greeks were reluctant to learn Latin, it was primarily the Romans who became bilingual. x
  • 14
    Leisure and Entertainment
    We explore leisure activities among the wealthy, including the gymnasium and symposium for Greeks and the public baths and convivium for Romans. x
  • 15
    Sex and Sexuality
    Sex and sexuality did not have the same significance in antiquity as they do in modern Western society. One of the most profound differences is that there was an inherent asymmetry to most sexual relations in terms of age and social status. Note: This lecture deals frankly with sexuality and contains graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences. Parental discretion is advised. x
  • 16
    Death and the Afterlife
    Death was a ubiquitous presence among the Greeks and Romans. Though both cultures placed great emphasis on continuing ties between the living and the deceased, the Romans incorporated the dead into their lives to a much greater degree than did the Greeks. x
  • 17
    From Mystery Religion to Ruler Cult
    In the 2nd century B.C., the Romans became less hospitable to foreign gods. For the first time, they banned Greek cult practices, particularly those associated with the god Dionysus. On assuming power, Augustus introduced ruler cult. x
  • 18
    Greek Cities under Roman Rule
    With the exception of Rome, almost all the greatest cities in the Roman Empire were predominantly populated by Greeks. These adapted well to the loss of political freedom. We look at Alexandria, Antioch, Pergamum, and Ephesus, among others. x
  • 19
    Greeks in Rome, Romans in Greece
    We examine how Greeks in their capacity as slaves and subjects, and Romans in their capacity as masters and rulers, coexisted somewhat uneasily. x
  • 20
    The Hellenism of Augustus
    The Augustan Principate marks the advent of a unified Mediterranean culture under Roman rule. At the same time, it was a world that had become deeply influenced by Greek culture. x
  • 21
    Art, Looting, and Reproductions
    Romans developed a taste for Greek art from the plunder of conquered Greek cities. Thereafter, they began acquiring it by commissioning Greek workshops to produce copies of famous originals. The Roman style of collecting effectively created the notion of a work of art. x
  • 22
    Architecture, Sacred and Secular
    Although possessing deep stylistic similarities, Greek and Roman architecture employed markedly different building methods and materials, was constructed on different scales, and fulfilled different functions. The Romans were the first to use architecture to serve the masses. x
  • 23
    Science and Technology
    Greek scientific wizardry is impressive even by the high technological standards of today. While the Romans were less interested in scientific discovery, they were attuned to its practical benefits. x
  • 24
    Disease, Medical Care, and Physicians
    The invention of rational medicine is one of the most important discoveries of the Greeks—remarkable for its absence of any appeal to magic, religion, or superstition. Although the Romans were initially suspicious of Greek doctors, they came to rely increasingly on them. x
  • 25
    The Greek Epic and Its Roman Echo
    The epic is an ancient genre that achieved near perfection in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The Roman poet Virgil drew on Homer and other sources to create the Aeneid, the most sustained and successful fusion of Greek and Roman literary form and style. x
  • 26
    Tragedy and Comedy
    The Greeks invented Western drama. Early on, two genres evolved—tragedy and comedy—both of which were appropriated and adapted by the Romans. x
  • 27
    Love Poetry, Satire, History, the Novel
    The Romans did not slavishly imitate their Greek literary precursors; they either adapted a genre to their taste or else they completely transformed it. We look at how the Romans appropriated and developed love poetry, satire, history, and the novel. x
  • 28
    Greek Influences on Roman Education
    Among Greek approaches to education, Sparta's harsh schooling of boys and Athens's tutoring in rhetoric by sophists are the best known. x
  • 29
    Greek Philosophy and Its Roman Advocates
    We investigate how Greek philosophy shaped the consciousness of the Roman elite, including generals, politicians, and even emperors. In so doing, it influenced not only how the Romans saw their world, but also how they sought to understand their place within it. x
  • 30
    Hellenomania from Nero to Hadrian
    The obsession with Greek culture was so great on the part of the emperors Nero and Hadrian that it can be described as "hellenomania"—an infatuation shared by many that was based on an idealized view of the Greek world and its values. x
  • 31
    Jews, Greeks, and Romans
    The inherent conflict between monotheism and polytheism made the position of the Jews particularly uncertain in the Roman Empire. As relations deteriorated, the Jewish Revolt broke out in A.D. 66, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem. x
  • 32
    Christianity's Debt to Greece and Rome
    Greco-Roman resources and its mentality greatly aided the development and spread of early Christianity. Even by making martyrs out of the early Christians, the Romans gave the Jesus movement a visibility that it would not otherwise have achieved. x
  • 33
    The Apotheosis of Athens
    From the 2nd century B.C., ambitious Romans indulged in lavish building programs in Athens. Shorn of independence, the Athenians continued to involve themselves in politics, although they showed a fatal knack for backing the wrong side. x
  • 34
    The Decline of the West
    There are competing theories to explain Rome's decline and fall, which might be better termed its upheaval and transformation. We investigate the instability that took hold in the half century from A.D. 235 onward, which ultimately saw the empire divided between East and West. x
  • 35
    The Survival of the East
    The eastern half of the empire survived the dissolution of the West by more than 1,000 years. Greeks and Romans went their separate ways, although, ironically, it was the Byzantine Greeks who saw themselves as the true Romans. x
  • 36
    The Enduring Duo
    What did the Greeks and Romans get out of their relationship? How has the modern West claimed their legacies, and how has each of us been shaped by their influence? Greece and Rome remain two aspects of our collective cultural personality. x

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Your professor

Robert Garland

About Your Professor

Robert Garland, Ph.D.
Colgate University
Dr. Robert S.J. Garland is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University. He earned his B.A. in Classics from Manchester University, his M.A. in Classics from McMaster University, and his Ph.D. in Ancient History from University College London. A former Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the George Grote Ancient History Prize, Professor Garland has educated students and audiences at a...
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Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 61.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You never knew this We assume because "the Classics" means Greece and Rome, the two are related by the department at the universities. But this course will teach you far more, that Greece and Rome shared more than just mythology, but vast amounts of culture and history that are very satisfying to learn. Dr. Garland is magnificent.
Date published: 2017-07-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent Pretty good but not great. This course has some helpful visuals incorporated, which is nice, but suffers a bit from the lecturer have a bit of a halting delivery with a lot of awkward pauses, as if he's a bit uncomfortable on camera. Pretty good, could have been better.
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from disappointing I was looking for something with better graphics, more in line with a documentary. Watching a guy stand at a podium and give a lecture is not what I was looking for. When I read or watch a good documentary I feel emotionally involved with the story; not so with the format you offer.
Date published: 2016-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greco-Roman Connection Dr. Garland's decision to adopt an integrated approach to Greek and Roman history seems so sensible. Previous university and Elder College instructors in courses I took on the ancient Mediterranean world discussed the two civilizations separately and strictly chronologically, not emphasizing how they intertwined. I was left to try to make comparisons and contrasts on my own, often losing track of names and dates. In this Teaching Company course, explanations of how the Greeks viewed a particular person, event, or feature of society were presented 'side-by-side' with analysis of the Roman views and attitudes, and I came away feeling that I now grasped insights that were even more important than mere facts. Dr. Garland is an erudite and insightful scholar who seemed to have his lectures very thoroughly prepared. The professor was never dry, though, and his occasional forays into putting points in a humorous way were delightful. Some of my favourites among the thirty-six lectures comprising this course were 'Travel and Trade in the Mediterranean,' 'How the Two Polytheisms (Almost) Merged,' and 'The Greek Epic and Its Roman Echo.' Maps and other illustrative on-screen visuals were very good and helpful throughout.
Date published: 2015-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent: Informative & Insightful AUDIO DOWNLOAD Having taken many TC courses on ancient Greek and Roman history and culture, I was not too sure how much I might get out of this course, but was intrigued by the unusual perspective promised. This course well exceeded my expectations. I just wish I had taken it sooner, and am sure that I am going to return to it again as I continue my study of ancient Greece and Rome. Perhaps the most significant take-away from this course is Professor Garland’s comments that “…It is all too easy to regard the Greeks as sensitive aesthetes and the Romans as coarse-grained technocrats, but the truth is far more complex. A central purpose and preoccupation of this course [is] to place them in dialogue together…. ‘Greco-Roman’ as an expression of cultural and political interrelatedness is unique in human history” (Course Guidebook, Page 132). In thirty-six lectures Professor Garland ably covers a lot of time and territory, stretching from the 8th century BC to 500 AD, well into the Byzantine era (which includes the split of empire into Western and Eastern portions), and even takes the story to the present day: “Greece and Rome continue to represent opposing points of view in the contemporary world. Pundits identify America with Rome and cast “old Europe” as the contentious and cantankerous Greeks. However, we need both the Greeks and the Romans in order to help us to make sense of who we are and of how we arrived here; the understanding of Greece and Rome is also about the forging of our collective Western self” (Page 134). There is too much in this course to adequately describe, but the list of lecture headings should give one a good sense of the breadth and significance of Professor Garland’s course, from the early contacts between the Greeks and Romans, battles and military conquest, the movement of large numbers of Greeks into Roman society, to matters such as education, science and technology, burial customs, philosophy, medicine and diseases, literature, art and architecture. There is not one lecture that is less than top-notch. I particularly appreciated the treatment of the early contacts between Greece and Rome, and how the latter moved from the velvet glove to the iron fist, in which the Greeks’ continued fractiousness contributed no small part; how the Romans adapted what they wanted from the Greeks rather than uncritically accepting all of the Greek ways; the contrasting of the varied responses of prominent Romans to Greek culture, from the particularly negative views of Cato the Elder to the foundational Hellenism of Emperor Augustus, and the later “Hellenomania” of the Emperors Nero and Hadrian; and Professor Garland’s treatment of Christianity as a Greco-Roman construct, how the ideas, practices, and conditions of the Greco-Roman world ideally suited its development and spread. I suggest that one start the course with the last lecture. While not a summary of the course, it does tie things up, and Professor Garland here elaborates a marriage analogy to describe the relationship of Greece and Rome in the sense of “Greco-Roman”. Professor Garland is a great presenter. His British accent is easy to handle and his delivery makes listening a pleasure. The 188 page guidebook is quite good, proving a good summary of the lectures. It contains a glossary, a timeline, thirteen maps, biographical notes, and an annotated bibliography. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2015-06-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed given the other reviews I got to lecture 28 and I could not continue. Some of the content was interesting, but I found the professor's spasmodic and almost theatrical delivery very distracting. A few occasions he reverted to a conversational delivery, which was much better. By the 28 lecture, I had had enough and I know I could not watch any of the lectures again. I note other people reviewed this course highly. Obviously his delivery appealed to them - but not me. I will be returning this course. If you are thinking about purchasing this course I recommend you listen to his delivery first.
Date published: 2015-01-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a History, a Set of Erudite Disjointed Talks This isn't a history at all, or even a course, though it is an interesting series of loosely-related discussions on Greco-Roman history in isolation. There's no introduction placing the Greeks and Romans in context—no mention of the millennia-old civilizations to their east from which they emerged. The introduction to Greek history doesn't even mention the origins of Greek history; I believe there is no mention of the Minoans, or even Crete, and little discussion (most of it out of order) of Mycenaean civilization before the Dark Age. The discussion of what the Greeks thought it meant to be a Greek doesn't even mention the importance of Greeks outside of modern mainland Greece, though there is later passing mention of important Greeks from outside the mainland. The discussion of Alexander's conquest, and later of Roman roads, inexcusably omits any mention of the Persian empire, precursor to both. The individual lectures are quite illuminating, and some of them even adhere to chronology; I would have been delighted with these talks if I’d found them as a series of seminars on iTunesU. But what we’re paying the Teaching Company for is the discipline of presenting the material in chronological order, unfashionable though that may be, and with proper context. The saddest consequence is that the existence of this collection of lectures means that the Teaching Company will never issue an actual integrated history of Greece, Rome, and the ancient Mediterranean, leaving us to study Greek and Roman history in isolation, which Professor Garland himself rightly warns against.
Date published: 2014-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a wonderful course It was very pleasant as well as enlightening to listen to professor's Garland lectures, as I was driving. It really takes you back in time. I am not commenting as a historian. I am a scientist who only later in life understood how important it is to know history. Professor Garland is right in that the history of Rome can be learnt and understood only in combination with the history of ancient Greece.
Date published: 2014-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best course on ancient Greece and Rome DVD review. There are over 25 Teaching Company courses exploring various facets of ancient Greece and Rome, even if you exclude those covering early Christianity. And if I had to limit myself to one, Dr. Garland's GREECE AND ROME: AN INTEGRATED HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN would be it. Why is that? Three points stood out for me. 1. It is relatively UNIQUE. Greece and Rome were closely-intertwined cultures that shaped many of our "western" values, even today. However, books explaining them tend to be about one or the other. This course treats them as a single evolving whole. 2. A comprehensive cultural overview must balance conflicting perspectives. — The "temporal" aspects: military, political and institutional developments. — The "intimate yet universal" level: life cycle, marriage, s*x, social hierarchy, entertainment, death, etc. — "Life talked about and expressed": the arts, sciences, religions, philosophies, news-sharing networks, the use of public space, etc. Garland does a good job of balancing these perspectives in a DETAILED YET ENTERTAINING fashion. 3. The DECLINING CENTURIES are well-drawn — The cultural conflicts surrounding Judea and the rise of Christianity. The gradual collapse of the western half while Byzantium survived for another millennia. ___________________ PRESENTATION was clear and memorable. An audio platform, if combined with the course guidebook would be sufficient. But seriously consider video platforms as they offer many useful maps as well as photos covering art and architecture. The guidebook, while comprehensive, often skips some of his asides I felt were important. A bit of trivia. He occasionally wears a tiny earring on his left ear. I thought it charming. But if this kind of detail rubs you the wrong way, choose audio. All in all, a very delightful, memorable course. Ideal too as a source of information for teens in the family, unless the short lesson on ancient s*xuality offends you on principle. Strongly recommended.
Date published: 2014-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent integration of the two civilizations The long path of ancient Greek history is closely wound into the story of ancient Rome. This course does an excellent job of bringing this bond out. The lecturer speaks at a sophisticated level focusing not only on the political ties but also on the many social and cultural relationships. Although a bit dry, for anyone with an interest in these civilizations this course is so rich with connections and insights that it can be quite fascinating. The lecturer is intelligent and very clear in his thoughts. However, he does speak quickly and has a classic “clipped” British accent, in which, unfortunately, the many difficult Greek and Roman names are spoken without the benefit of clear articulation. This is one of the best TGC courses on ancient history.
Date published: 2014-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profound Scholarly course In almost all of the TGC courses on the Classic Greek and Rome, we are constantly told that our own modern Western culture is founded upon ancient Roman culture, and that this one in turn is an extension, or an amalgamation, of the Hellenistic culture (which in turn is an extension of the classical Greek culture). The whole course is focused on throwing light on this critical evolution – it is in many ways like two huge ocean currents blending together to form a new current, and one is left to characterize which traits came from which current. Professor Garland dives to great depths in describing which elements of the ancient Roman culture were strictly "Roman" and which were imported from Greece culture. From the beginning of their relationship in the 3rd century BCE, the Romans had a deep love hate relationship with the Greeks: on the one hand they found it hard to keep their patience in the face of the Greek's constant tendency to squabble with each other. They detested the Greek's "philosophizing" about everything, and especially they distrusted their "sophist" methodologies of argumentation, in which one is taught to present with equal fervor his own personal opinion and its exact opposite. This, the Romans absolutely despised. On the other hand, they could not help but be captivated by the profound and expansive Greek culture which the Roman Empire conquered. This is an analytical and really quite rigorously academic course on the subject. It is interesting, it is not necessarily much fun, and it is profound. It provides excellent coverage of the subject.
Date published: 2014-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from informative and Interesting There seems to be nothing of his subject that he is not aware of. As well he is a good teacher. The two don't always go together.
Date published: 2014-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very useful overview I own a large number of Great Courses (16 actually) focused on the classical world. This was a course I bought early on but put back until I had watched other courses on Greece, Rome and the Classical World. I am glad I did. While it could also serve as an introduction having already immersed myself in the history and other aspects of the classical world this course helped pull together much of what I had already absorbed. I believe that I got more out of this course watching it after watching 12 other courses specifically dedicated to Rome or Greece or other parts of the classical world. As much of our western culture comes from the classical world it is a useful field of study. Having traveled extensively in the area it remains an area of interest to me personally. Compared to other courses that cover history, battles and specific individuals this course proves an overview and stitches together how the Romans came to dominate Greece and how in turn they absorbed Greek culture, be it in philosophy, literature, scientific discoveries and even language. And in turn how Rome influenced Greece. Before this course I did not understand how it was that Rome came to dominate and absorb Greece nor how much the two cultures became entwined. Yes, I knew it had happened but not how it came to pass. It is a well organized and presented course and one it is easy to recommend.
Date published: 2014-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep, literate, insightful, and entertaining Among the Great Courses that I have most admired and appreciated, this one heads the list. And it's a competitive list! Having benefited from the other fine courses on Greek and Roman history, I was amazed and impressed by the way Professor Garland added an entirely new dimension to the picture I had. There are many pleasures here -- not least, for me, being his skill with the English language. A wonderful course.
Date published: 2013-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Classic Course by an Accomplished Historian [DVD Disk] It's not often that I rate a course fully 5-stars, but this one, taught by Dr. Garland, deserves every last twinkle. The course's focus, a combination of two great empires that existed in tandem and side-by-side, is a logical synthesis, where the sum is greater than the parts (1 + 1=3). The interaction between Greece and Rome is fascinating with its cultural assimilations, wars and shared arts -as this course will present. The course unfurls logically and comprehensively. Professor Garland is a Great lecturer. He speaks clearly with a pace that's easy to follow. The course has ample graphics and maps, so it's comprehensive and easy to remember (for those of us who are visual). This is a 36-lecture course, so expect a thorough grounding in these ancient empires. I can't think of any significant fault with the course other than wishing it it were longer. For a better overview of this region of the Mediterranean, I recommend that this course precede specific studies of either Greece or the Roman empires. Very best, jkh
Date published: 2013-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Verrrrrrrrry interesting! I took two years of Latin in High School, so I had some knowledge of Roman culture and history, but none of Greek. The history of their interaction was new to me and fascinating. The professor presented his material very well.
Date published: 2013-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Scholarly and Scintillating Course I have a deep love of history and having studied "world history" and "western civilisation" courses have a broad overview of the Greaco-Roman world. This is the first time I have specifically studied this critically important period of history and I carefully evaluated which course to choose as I was cautious about an integrated course given my having not previously studied either Rome or Greece in a dedicated course. I need not have been cautious as Professor Garland delivered a tour de force survey of the Graeco-Roman world and the way the two histories coincide and connect is truly illuminating. Professor Garland is also courageous enough to share the less exalted aspects of this period of history including the fact that the political economy of these civilisations rested on slavery. It is impossible to truly understand Western Civilisation today without knowing the Graeco-Roman legacy and this course delivers this knowledge superbly. I hope many more courses are offered by this excellent Professor.
Date published: 2013-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fills an Important Niche This is definitely one that all Hellenophiles and Romanophiles will want to add to their Teaching Company collection. The course successfully fills the "explanatory gap" of how political, societal and cultural exchange between Rome and Greece led to a brilliant synthesis that was to become the basis for all subsequent development in the west. So intertwined are the histories of ancient Greece and Rome, that to study either one without inclusion of the other will almost certainly result in an incomplete view of both of these two impressive civilizations. One side note. I originally listened to the audio version of this course and was not particularly impressed with it. I subsequently acquired the DVD version and my opinion of the course rose dramatically. Absent the maps, on-screen graphics and copious illustrations present in the video presentation, I would probably rate the course around a 3.5 or 4. For me, the visuals really helped drive home Professor Garland's points in a much more cogent manner than I experienced in the audio version.
Date published: 2013-03-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from this presentation is too long I have listened to many presentations on ancient Greece and Rome and much of the contents was repetive for me. While the integrated approach and comparison between the civilizations was interesting, the course, for me, could have been presented in half the time. I also found Dr. Garland's staccato voice unpleasant to listen to. I could, however, recommend this course to somebody with little background in ancient history.
Date published: 2013-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really pulled it all together for me. In common with many people (I am guessing) I had always rather had the idea that "first there were the Greeks, then came the Romans" and there was some fuzzy date overlap in the middle that I didn't know how to unravel. Well, if that's where you are, this course will be a revelation, as it was to me. I had really very little idea of the synthesis between Greek and Roman history. Prof. Garland does a really excellent job not only of laying out incredibly clearly the "great men and important dates" historical angle of the meeting of two great civilizations, but he also goes into great depth on the substantial cultural exchanges, which I had really not appreciated. Of course, when you see how close the "heel" of Italy is to western Greece it all makes sense. Viewing this before my visit to Paestum and the Campania area in Italy was useful and helped set the scene for why the Greeks should have been there. An excellent course for someone looking to tie their knowledge of the two great Classical civilizations together.
Date published: 2012-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This was one of the first history lectures I downloaded from TGC, in an attempt to fill the gaping hole in my education where ancient history should have been. It was a terrific lecture series. I had had little appreciation for how long a shadow the Greek civilization cast over the upstart Roman empire, so much more powerful and arrogant but still so insecure about its culture and aesthetics. It reminded me of the opposing enthusiasm and disdain in certain parts of American society for older British or European culture. Since then I've listened to quite a few ancient-history lectures, but I still remember this first one with pleasure. It was a valuable foundation for all of the others. Competing Greco-Roman influences continue to serve as the yin and yang of modern Western society.
Date published: 2012-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Addition to your TC Classics Collection [Audio and Video] I have many of theTC Classics related courses, and put off purchasing this one for a long time as I thought it would just cover the same ground again. I was wrong - Prof. Garland delivers a very well-rounded course, from a unique (for the TC) Mediterranean-as-a-whole perspective. I learned so much from this course. I liked it so much, I even upgraded to video. To add my 2c to the audio/video debate: there are definitely some lectures, focusing on the arts, architecture, etc., which would have been very difficult to get much out of I I hadn't had the video version. Most lectures were fine on audio if you have a good mind's eye map of the area, but you'll definitely get more from the video version. The course begins by demolishing many romantic notions of the "glory that was Greece/the grandeur that was Rome" that many Classics discussions seem to be steeped in. Prof. Garland's discussions of the way life was for the average non-aristocratic member of society was sobering, and his frank discussions of how the constantly squabbling Greek poleis must have have been such a pain for the rising Roman powers, had me smirking, considering all the Classics hagiographers out there. Wonderful stuff. One pet peev - Prof. Garland's verbal delivery was so smooth that I think he must have used a tele-prompter. I prefer my TC deliveries to be more extemporaneous. Having said that, if he WAS reading his lines, he did do a pretty good job of it - I couldn't see his eyes move back and forth - but it does give a definite over-formality to the delivery.
Date published: 2012-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not 1 plus 1; it is all 1 Greece and Rome. Too many times we are tought about them as separate as if they were Russia and Hawaii. Yet these 2 cultures as close as New York and New Jersey. To the people who may have studied mythology this relationship is clear as we had to learn the Roman name for the Greek god we were relating to. But never before have I taken a course that so clearly shows the inter-relationship of these 2 cultures. Rome didn't start on the day after Greece died; they overlapped considerably. This became clear to me years ago when I traveled in Europe -- the best Greek remains I saw were in Italy (Sicily to be precise). In this course Professor Garland shows us the inter-relationship of these cultures, not just through wars, but through the lives of people in their laws, beliefs, art, philosophy, medical care, architecture, technology, ... I did the audio version of the course and had no problem following it. But then, I do have a knowledge of the geography of the area. For those who don't, I would recommend looking at the maps at the end of the Course guidebook frequently. All in all, I was very pleased with this course.
Date published: 2012-04-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting course, not a favourite of mine The professor speaks decisively, clearly but very choppily; he provides a ton of facts, and I appreciate his position of connecting the two cultures so closely and together -- he is right! He covered all the aspects of the cultures that I could think of. The excellent illustrations & maps assist the course tremendously, and the guidebook is invaluable. However, I'm afraid the professor is just not my kind of fellow, with very ill-fitting jacket and disappearing/appearing earring. I mention these facts purely because they distracted me inordinately. I considered giving the course four stars but had to pull back to three, all things considered. Had I the option to rate three-and-a-half, then I would have done so. I suggest that you view other courses on ancient Greece and Rome in addition to this, in order to derive maximum benefit overall.
Date published: 2012-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Greece and Rome I've never known Let me add my voice to the universal acclaim being heaped on Prof. Garland. This course is outstanding! Like many reviewers, I have a reasonable amount of background (or thought I had) in the history of Greece and Rome. This course introduced me to a Greece and Rome I've never known. One reviewer described this course and giving him new insights. I think that's an understatement. I don't think there were five minutes out of the thirty-six lectures that didn't provide a new fresh insight to my understanding of ancient Mediterranean history. One of the things I particularly appreciated about this course was the social history that makes up most of the course. Many course claim to offer social history as well as the political and military history. But few courses deliver on the promise. This course makes social history the central focus. The military and political history only complement the social. I've always thought of military and political history as the "who, what, where, and when". It's only through social history that you can ever hope to speculate about the "why". I'll also note that several reviewers suggested that you need a firm grounding in both Greek and Roman history to approach this course. I tend to disagree. If you approach this course as a social history course and don't worry about trying to pick up on the military and political stuff, you won't have any trouble following the course. If you are interested in the military and poetical, then much of it comes at you fast and furious. To that extent, it does help to have much of that already set in your brain, while this fills in a lot of gaps. But you definitely don't need a particularly firm background in the history of Greece and Rome to get a great deal out of this course, as long as what you're looking for is the social history of the cultures. Finally, I should say what most every reviewer (with a couple of notable, though, to my mind, very odd, exceptions) has said. Prof. Garland is a pure pleasure to listen to. He is a spectacular presenter who brings this material to life. You WILL enjoy this course. It is a huge blast from the word "go". I listened to the audio version of the course. After reading several of the other reviews, I wish I'd gotten the video version, but the audio was easy to listen to and I don't think I missed out on too much. The audio was easy to follow and a pleasure to listen to in the car.
Date published: 2012-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An epic journey and a game changer I loved this course because it was just so broad in scope, yet also detailed. For me it was a game changer in my knowledge and appreciation of the ancient Mediterranean area. Everything just clicked. In many ways I came away with a sense of awe at our Western inheritance and humbled by so many remarkable achievements made so long ago. First off, my recommendation is to start with the Jeremy McInerney course first (Ancient Greek Civilization), and then tackle this course. In An Integrated History, there are a lot more names and dates to contend with, especially in light of military campaigns and political history which are sometimes hard to keep track of. In my case, it’s worth noting that a good deal of other TGC courses helped to pave the way for this one: Ancient Greek Civilization (McInerney), World’s Greatest Structures (Ressler), Classical Mythology (Vandiver), History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 (Principe), and Great Ideas in Philosophy (Robinson). I had a good enough foundation where I not only found the material very engaging, but was also able to absorb and consolidate much of it in one go. If you haven’t got a wide enough background on these topics, it may be overwhelming at times. One criticism of this course from other reviewers was that it focused narrowly on Greece and Rome but left out the rest of Mediterranean. While that might seem true on audio, the video version clearly illustrates that the course takes account of the Greek and Roman EMPIRES, which stretched far and wide around the whole Mediterranean area. Don’t get the impression that this is solely Athens versus Rome. It encompasses Eastern and Western Empires, including Egypt, Carthage, Syria/Judea as well as major Greek city-states, Persia/Selecucid Empire, etc. It is far reaching and comprehensive indeed. Again, get the video version! There are so many detailed maps, pictures, mosaics, actual videos, artifacts, paintings, etc. that if you don’t get the video, you’re just shortchanging yourself if you don’t. The video is a must-have to truly appreciate the course. The good professor from England sports a mild British accent and comes across as an amiable chap. He is an outstanding speaker despite a slight lisp on final consonant ‘S’ sounds. If I may be so bold, clips of his presentation ought to be given to every single TGC professor to learn from. If you go frame by frame and examine his body language and pacing and how they match up with his diction (inflection and intonation, etc.), he is by far the very best TGC presenter in this respect. Clearly he has had some professional training in this area. For me, part of the practical value of this course is the improvement of one’s public speaking skills. Finally, this course has also opened up pathways to other courses of interest, notably Greco-Roman philosophy, the decline of the Roman Empire, the origins of Christianity and Judaism, etc. These I intend to pursue. I’m positive that in taking this course it will likewise expand your horizons and generate further interest in some of the many topics covered. But get the video!
Date published: 2011-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Get the audio version Good course, but my advice is to get the audio version. The male professor's big gleaming pirate earring is really annoying to look at
Date published: 2011-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Instructive! This fascinating course deals with both Greek and Roman history. The adjective ‘integrated’ in its title is somewhat of a misnomer however and, more often than not, ‘comparative’ or even ‘parallel’ would be more accurate. Professor Garland is well prepared, knowledgeable and certainly passionately interested by the topic. He is at times a little difficult to follow however since he has the irritating habit of numbering the issues he presents, sometimes up to 10! His British accent and serious tone make his occasional use of colloquial expressions awkward, describing for instance Romans as ‘hanging out’ in public baths. Overall, this is certainly a worthwhile course that will complement anyone’s understanding of Mediterranean Antiquity.
Date published: 2011-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent, but a few reservations I liked this course and learned a lot, for all the reasons many reviewers have spelled out in earlier reviews. Smart, informative, full of info (as well as highlights, contrasts, and comparisons) that I've never run into before. I've been thru numerous histories of Greece and Rome, and Prof Garland really helps flesh the Greece/Rome picture out. He's a clear, articulate, and enthusiastic presenter. Put me down, by the way, as someone who agrees with the majority of reviewers here: You'd be best off coming to this course after going through some intros to Greek and Roman history. Prof. Garland assumes you're familiar with the basics, and he spends almost no time laying events out in a conventionally chronological way. The course is organized almost entirely thematically -- the linear dimension is barely present. Which is OK and cool. But those without a sense of in what order the major events in Greece and Rome happened might find themselves bewildered. One star off for what I felt was a bit of a misrepresentation. This struck me as an extremely quirky course. It's concerned entirely with the relations between Greece and Rome -- how did Greece affect Rome? What did Rome make of Greece? Where women were concerned? Where art went? And on and on. Fun ... But the title of the course and some of the things Prof Garland says indicate that you'll come away from the lectures with a much fleshed-out picture of the ancient Mediterranean generally. That wasn't the case at all for me. I learned a bunch about how Rome and Greece affected each other. But the course is entirely focused on that big arrow pointing from Greece to Rome and that other big arrow pointing from Rome to Greece. The rest of the ancient Mediterranean barely shows up. So: good course, learned a bunch, enjoyed it -- but it was much more narrowly focused than I anticipated, and wasn't at all what I was expecting it to be.
Date published: 2011-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must for Greek and Roman study This review is based on the downloaded version. I have listened to the TC courses about the history of both Greece and Rome, excellent courses both. I was afraid that this course will be a repetition of the material that I have already learned, but I was wrong. This is a different approach to history that illuminates many points left out by the traditional single-topic courses. A course about ancient Greece or Rome deals only tangentially with the other country, while this course puts in perspective the interdependent relationship between these great civilizations. I think it will be useful to familiarize yourself with the history of Greece and Rome before listening to this course, but I feel that it is a must if you want to have a better understanding of the interactions and relationships between these two cultures and their influence on our own time.
Date published: 2010-10-03
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