The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization
Author: Victor Davis Hanson
Everyone has been taught that the Greek city-state is the ultimate source of the Western tradition in literature, philosophy, and politics. For generations, scholars have focused on the rise of the city-state and its brilliant cosmopolitan culture. Now Victor Hanson, the author of several studies of ancient warfare and agriculture, has written a book that will completely change our view of Greek society. For Hanson shows that the real "Greek revolution" was not the rise of a free and democratic urban culture, remarkable as this was, but the historic innovation of the independent family farm. The heroes of his book, therefore, are what he calls "the other Greeks" - the neglected free-hold farmers, vinegrowers and herdsmen of ancient Greece who formed the backbone of Hellenic civilization. It was these tough-minded, practical, and fiercely independent agrarians, Hanson contends, who gave Greek culture its distinctive emphasis on private property, constitutional government, contractual agreements, infantry warfare, and individual rights.
The articles in this volume employ source-work research to trace Kierkegaard's understanding and use of authors from the Greek tradition. A series of figures of varying importance in Kierkegaard's authorship are treated, ranging from early Greek poets to late Classical philosophical schools. In general it can be said that the Greeks collectively constitute one of the single most important body of sources for Kierkegaard's thought. He studied Greek from an early age and was profoundly inspired by what might be called the Greek spirit. Although he is generally considered a Christian thinker, he was nonetheless consistently drawn back to the Greeks for ideas and impulses on any number of topics. He frequently contrasts ancient Greek philosophy, with its emphasis on the lived experience of the individual in daily life, with the abstract German philosophy that was in vogue during his own time. It has been argued that he modeled his work on that of the ancient Greek thinkers specifically in order to contrast his own activity with that of his contemporaries.
A History of the Greek and Roman World, first published in 1926, presents the story of Graeco-Roman antiquity from its earliest recorded origins to the height of the Roman imperium. It aims to bring into prominence the internal dynamism - political, cultural, intellectual, and aesthetic – which animated the ancient peoples at different periods of their history, and to draw attention to the physical, socio-economic and religious conditions under which they lived. Written in a style which will likely be unfamiliar to modern readers, Grundy’s historical portrait is painted with broad brush-strokes, offering not only compelling narrative but also incisive commentary on the individuals and societies which occupy the foreground. A History of the Greek and Roman World will be of interest for the general enthusiast as well as students, who may value such a radically different approach to the interpretation of antiquity compared to the conventions which prevail amongst contemporary scholars.