Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea
Thomas Cahill
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Buy *Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter* online

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Thomas Cahill
352 pages
July 2004
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The first thing you notice about Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea is the gorgeous book jacket, complete with color photo of the luscious blue waters off the coast of Greece. But Greece is more than just a hot vacation spot, and the Greeks are more than just great cooks with a lust for life. This book lays down page after page of proof that the Greeks are responsible for a massive chunk of human history, thought, culture, religion, art and everything else, to boot.

The fourth volume in author Thomas Cahill’s "Hinges of History" series, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter covers the major contributions of the Greeks throughout history, from the ancient myths that shaped human religion and philosophy, to stunning military prowess and skill, to legendary art and sculpture, to the undeniable gifts of some of the world’s greatest literature. In fact, by the time you finish this book, you’ll wonder what the Greek’s DIDN’T excel in or pioneer.

They created logic, originated mystical prayer, developed mathematics and medicine and physics, and set the foundation for the modern alphabet. They perfected architecture, and wrote and performed high drama and tragedy. They revered their families, loved their kinky sex, honored their children, valued story and myth as history, and transformed the face of civilization with their sense of beauty and art. But it wasn’t all nice and pretty. The Greeks also developed a brutal and bloody militaristic worldview that elevated the Warrior mentality, and their concepts of sexual equality left a lot to be desired.

Each chapter begins with a captivating story that leads into the theme, whether it be mythological heroes and gods and goddesses, or the major philosophers such as Aristotle who literally reshaped human thought. We celebrate great achievements in all arenas and marvel over the hedonistic lifestyles that changed the face of human sexuality, whether through some of the kinky sculptures (these folks were freaky!) and art featured in the book’s many black and white photos, or through accounts of orgies and ritual sex. We stand in awe of achievements in science, medicine, and the development of logic. We swoon at the feet of poets and lyricists and storytellers of epic proportions. We shudder in the cold shadow of Western militarism that transformed the face of modern warfare.

In the end, we learn how the paganistic Greco-Roman culture changed when it met, and clashed, with the growing Judeo-Christian influence, to eventually create the Greece of modern times. This fascinating tribute to the contributions, both positive and negative, of the Greeks over history features a glossary of terms and pronunciation guide that will have you speaking pseudo-Greek in no time, as well as the Greek alphabet -- and, as mentioned earlier, plenty of eye-opening photos of sculpture and art the Greeks became known for.

They taught us how to think, how to feel, how to reason, how to build, how to love, and how to fight. Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea tells us, in no uncertain terms, why all the Greeks have done over the course of their rich, vibrant and colorful history really matters, and it does so with honor, humor, respect and great, great style.

© 2004 by Marie D. Jones for Curled Up With a Good Book

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