“Why, in the 21st century, should we still care about the ancient world?” ask the flyleaf on the dust jacket of this book. The long shadow of antiquity: what have the Greeks and Romans done for us? is a quick romp through the contributions provided by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the modern world. Starting with food and shelter, and ending with popular culture we learn about the influences behind many aspects of our world today.
As the introduction says: “This book is intended to help you to better ‘know yourself’ by taking you on an entertaining journey through the institutions, artifacts, rituals, and structures that make up our modern culture, and to point out some of the myriad ways in which the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome have fundamentally influenced and shaped the world that we live in today. You will discover that everything from how we measure time, build our cities, get married, and organize our governments, to what we do for fun and how we worship, has origins in the classical world.” (p. ix-x)
This book covers a large range of examples, and is to some extent a fairly superficial gloss on the subject, but it is an enteratining read and will probably whet the appetite of many readers, and lead them to further reading about the ancient world.
Despite the subtitle of this book alluding to a scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (What have the Romans ever done for us?) the authors sadly seem to have missed out all reference to this film, even in the popular culture section. A bit of an oversight really.
Aldrete, Gregory S. & Aldrete, Alicia (2012) The long shadow of antiquity: what have the Greeks and Romans done for us? London: Continuum.
Classmark: DF78.A5 (ASSL)