Modern Western European culture would have been impossible without the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. The disciplines of philosophy, drama, history, and science all owe an immense debt to these two Mediterranean cultures. At the same time, there are aspects of this legacy that are less worthy of celebration. Slavery went hand in hand with democracy. The pursuit of beauty coexisted with breathtaking acts of brutality.
This book explores the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the distinctive cultures they produced. It charts the rise and fall of empires as well as examining the intricacies of domestic life. The opening sections of the book give a chronological overview of the ancient world. They orientate the reader to the key places, actors, and historical trends. The remaining chapters focus on some of the most important and influential aspects of Greco-Roman culture including ancient festivals, art, architecture, religion, and medicine.