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Literature

Roderick Beaton’s “The Greeks: A Global History”

September 7, 2021

Greek identity is inextricably linked with the Greek language which connects Greeks wherever they happen to live around the world. The Greeks: A Global History by award-winning historian Roderick Beaton, his magnum opus, explores over 3,500 years of culture and language, in time for the celebration of the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek Revolution.

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek city-states, led by Athens and Sparta, laid the foundation for much of modern science, the arts, politics, and law. The influence of the Greeks, however, did not end with the rise and fall of this classical civilization. As Beaton illustrates, over three millennia, Greek speakers produced a series of civilizations that were rooted in southeastern Europe but again and again ranged widely across the globe.

In the book, Beaton traces history from the Bronze Age Mycenaeans who built powerful fortresses at home and strong trade routes abroad, to the dramatic Eurasian conquests of Alexander the Great, to the pious Byzantines who sought to export Christianity worldwide, to today’s Greek diaspora, which flourishes on five continents. The product of decades of research, this is the story of the Greeks and their global impact told by a master historian.

Roderick Beaton is an Emeritus Professor at King’s College London and Commander of the Order of Honor of the Hellenic Republic. His previous book, Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation, was shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize. He is the four-time winner of the prestigious Runciman Award and lives in Kent, England.

The Greeks is set to be released on October 26 and has received early praise from experts in the Classics and Western Civilization including Gregory Nagy of Harvard University who called the book, “a masterpiece from a towering expert in all things Greek.”

Sarah Ruden, translator and author of Paul Among the People said: “Roderick Beaton has given us a wonderful big picture of the Greeks, with a very generous cross-cultural, temporal, and geographical sweep. At the same time, the book’s solid detail and careful distinctions – for example, between the Platonic and the Christian vocabulary for ‘virtue’ – should help in discouraging political exploitation of stilted, anachronistic ideas about Greek civilization.”

Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at Ohio State University, said: “Histories of the Greeks have so far been written with a classical or a modern bias, but Roderick Beaton does not play favorites: with the vantage-point of a scholar enjoying a deep knowledge of Byzantium as well as all phases of Greek literature, he weaves together a vivid narrative reaching from the age of heroes and lore down to the present. The Greeks emerge not as a single nation but rather as a series of great civilizations. They were often at odds with each other but, in all phases of their long history, contributed cultural capital to the rest of the world. Beaton’s Greeks are always on the move, self-reflexive, and surprising. Their story has not yet been told in a global fashion, as it is here.”

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