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The Traveller's Guide to Classical Philosophy

Professor John Gaskin


The perfect primer for anyone interested in the foundation of Western thought and a unique companion for visitors to Greek and Roman sites


The Greeks were the first to ask and discuss in a rational way two fundamental questions that never cease to concern thinking human beings: what is the nature of the universe, and what can I make of my brief time in it? Their answers, developed between the 8th century BC and the 4th century AD, are as relevant today as they were in ancient times.

In this clear and evocative account, John Gaskin unfolds the thinking about nature, life, death and other worlds that informed the culture and society of the Classical world, drawing out its interest for modern readers. Witty sketches and diagrams enliven the story, which runs from Homeric Greece to the banning of pagan religions in AD 391. The book concludes with a gazetteer describing notable sites and the people and ideas connected with them, making it an ideal companion for visitors to Classical ruins and for all armchair travellers curious to explore life’s big questions.

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'A great idea, smartly executed … You’ll never confuse a Stoic with a Cynic again'

'One of my favourite discoveries in the last twelve months'

'Clear and evocative … a delightful book … It is written with a light and witty touch but you will be the wiser for reading it'
Timeless Travels

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: New Format

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Illustrations: 20

Publication date: 10 January 2019

ISBN: 9780500294734

Contents List

Part I – The Idea of Hellenism: What the Greeks Created: 1. The Scheme of Things Entire • 2. The Idea of Hellenism • 3. Wine, Sex and the Symposium • 4. Theatres: Festivals, Entertainments and Meetings • 5. Temples: Gods, Feasts and Safe Deposits • Part II – The Ideal of Homer and the Ideas of the Philosophers: • 1. Troy: The Legend and the Book • 2. Troy: The Book and the Ideals • 3. Miletus: The Nature of the Universe • 4 Ionia and Western Greece: Laws, Numbers and Reality • 5. Athens: Socrates, Plato and Other Worlds • 6. Aristotle and this World: Nature, Life and Ethics • 7. Epicurus: The Garden and the Wilderness • 8. Stoicism: Duty and the Laws of Nature • 9. Neoplatonism: The Last Protest • 10. The End of Classical Antiquity • Part III – Cities and Citizens: A Gazetteer

About the Author

John Gaskin, formerly professor of Naturalistic Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, frequently lectures on cruises to the classical sites of the Aegean.

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