The view of history as the unfolding of a grand scheme with its corollary of man’s responsibility to his history, and not the momentariness of the Greeks, has prevailed in Europe. Its unquestioned acceptance was due not only to the Judeo-Christian tradition but also to that of Rome, which had a sense of history and of national destiny like that of the Hebrews and demanded a similar surrender to national aspirations. – Moses Hadas, Hellenistic Culture: Fusion and Diffusion, p. 55

He could easily have added that this view has prevailed in the United States, and for the same reasons that the ancient Romans favored it. The view has strengths and weaknesses, but we only recognize them when we compare it with other views of history.

Overall this is one of the most enlightening books about the ancient world that I have ever read, and I recommend it highly. The basic idea is that after Alexander’s conquests, classical Greek culture radiated eastward where it mixed with local cultures and flowed back into Europe, largely via Rome. The consequences for philosophy, art, literature, and religion were world-changing.


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