It’s All Greek To Me

How Ancient Greece shaped our World

by Charlotte Higgins

  • Published: 02 Jul 2009
  • Price: £8.99
  • Format: Paperback
  • Extent: 304p
  • ISBN: 978-1-906021-43-6
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  • Buy it now from Waterstones

Why are some laws draconian? What is an Achilles heel? Why were the Spartans spartan? Charlotte Higgins answers all these questions and more in this indispensable guide to the greatest civilisation the world has ever known.

Consider the way we think: about right and wrong, about the nature of beauty, goodness, and truth. About what, in the end, it is to be a human being amid the immensity of the universe. What it is to be mortal, to live for a brief while, and die. All this we have learned from the ancient Greeks. They moulded the basic disciplines and genres in which we still organise thought: from poetry to drama, from politics to philosophy, from history to medicine, and even ethnography.

Packed with useful cribs – history timelines; mythology for dummies; even a map for those who struggle to know their Lemnos from their Lesbos – It’s All Greek To Me is a bluffer’s guide in one sense; but it is much more than that. This book aims to unlock the richness of Greek culture and place it where it should be, in the mainstream of life.

See Charlotte Higgins explain the classical roots of Obama’s masterful oratory.

“Higgins delivers digestible précis and peppy plot summaries… the appendices would make fine stocking-fillers in their own right… A love letter to ancient Greece”
The Telegraph

“A highly entertaining bluffer’s guide to Greek culture, philosophy and politics”
The Sunday Times

It’s All Greek to Me is so readable, with a directness and clarity that’s enormously engaging. Every generation needs to rediscover the Greeks: and Charlotte Higgins has provided this one with a wonderful map of the territory and all kinds of help on the way… What an excellent book.”
Phillip Pullman

“With a marvellous display of knowledgeable enthusiasm and a keen talent for compression, (Higgins) shows just precisely why the Greeks matter”
The Guardian

“Higgins takes on classical Greek, covering politics, barbarians, love, epic and ethics, all done with panache and sly wit.”
Scotland on Sunday

“Higgins’s sparky style makes her subject matter so palatable that… her readers may not feel the need to seek out the classics because she has distilled them all too well.”
Time Out

It’s All Greek to Me is a completely excellent guide to Greek poetry, drama, philosophy, history and culture. Philip Pullman has said that he would put it into every school and every teacher-training course and I’d echo that. Like Boris Johnson, the author is a Balliol classicist but she puts her learning at the disposal of those of us who were not so lucky. It is highly entertaining as well as informative. God be with you Balliol men, and Balliol women.
AN Wilson, Evening Standard

“In It’s All Greek to Me, Charlotte Higgins does a great job in conveying the heart of Greek culture to a general audience. Perfect for the stocking.”
Mary Beard, History Today

About Charlotte Higgins

Charlotte Higgins has been the Guardian’s arts correspondent since 2004. She is the author of Latin Love Lessons (Short Books, 2007). Charlotte studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford. She lives in London.