After the Independent, the Greek mainstream newspaper Ta Nea and Ms Adamopoulou reviews the newly publish book by Michael Scott From Democrats to Kings: The Brutal Dawn of a New World from the Downfall of Athens to the Rise of Alexander the Great (October 2009) published by Icon Books. It seems that the author's argument draws a growing negative response from Greek speaking academics throughout the world.
Spartans were warlike bullies and Alexander the Great a Mama's Boy? The book of British lecturer Michael Scott demystifies ancient Greece. It is fashionable, Greek historians and archaeologists say.
"There is a trend many young researchers, especially British, to pursue originality lowering the importance and mystifying people and events. Only most often based on subjective criteria and in few sources and not all the available sources," says the emeritus professor of Archeology Petros Themelis. "This is not the first time someone tries to do something similar. In the past we had the phenomenon of Black Athena, which was much more serious. It's funny to be offended, especially when we are not convinced by the arguments used by the authors."
"I have not yet read the book by Michael Scott" From Democrats in Kings. The "catchy" title of the book shows an anachronistic treatment of Greek history: the supposed path of democrats to kings is historically inaccurate oversimplification, "says" the professor of Ancient History at Oxford University, Angelos Chaniotis. "What Paul Bignell presents a groundbreaking review of sources and entirely new image of classical antiquity, is a mix of misunderstandings and exaggerations of the columnist, gross errors (the Olympiada falls heroically in the battlefield and the "golden Athena" of the 5th century has been confused with the Athena of the the 4th century) and clichés (the hardness of Spartan warriors, the debt of Alexander to Philip, the special relationship with his mother, the monarchy-friendly trends of Isocrates). Scott's book will certainly have good sales, as fifteen years ago the now forgotten "Black Athena". Those selective viewing of ancient Greece and its culture as a miracle heroes that does not accept a non-historical interpretation will eventually produce indignation. Anyone struggling to understand the Greek history as experience of human would ignore it.
I had no information for the book, for that reason only I cannot give my opinion for the book. As it seems to be true in my view is indeed the fact that the book will do some good sales. It is also true that a growing popular publications for Greek history tend to have an element of negative approach towards historical figures, Alexander the Great (a very good example), Pericles, Leonidas II, Socrates and Plato amongst others. They are, I believe, tow kind of popular readings on ancient Greek history, a) the titles that do have a heavy educational value by disseminating scholarly work; such as The Peloponnesian War by Donland Kagan and the Classical World by Robin Lane Fox, which of course are worth praising and b) the titles who wish to make the amazon's top 10 or 20, which regardless of the publisher's efforts to meet such target the content lacks of anything that can be seen as valuable - these titles use ancient Greek and Roman history as a background for engaging gossipry on ancient personae; that indeed make the sale figures meet the target. It is up to the author to choose in between the two.
Michael Scott as I understood want to be in the first group; he points in his weblog which was especially created for his book:
My book doesnt "threaten" ancient myths and I am not "shattering" ancient legends - my point is to explore them! From reading these articles you would feel that I was single-handedly bringing down ancient Greece and grinding it into the dust under my heel! Nothing could be further from the truth - by writing about it, I want to build up its reputation and importance, not destroy it!
I will read it first and I hope that I will agree with his point above. If you are reading it please give your comment below or send a reply to our twitter's message.
Source: Ta Nea, by M. Adamopoulou (06/10/2009)