Bestselling author Norman Cantor delivers this compact but magisterial survey of the ancient world—from the birth of Sumerian civilization around 3500 B.C. in the Tigris-Euphrates valley (present-day Iraq) to the fall of the Roman Empire in A.D. 476. In Antiquity, Cantor covers such subjects as Classical Greece, Judaism, the founding of Christianity, and the triumph and decline of Rome.
In this fascinating and comprehensive analysis, the author explores social and cultural history, as well as the political and economic aspects of his narrative. He explains leading themes in religion and philosophy and discusses the environment, population, and public health. With his signature authority and insight, Cantor highlights the great books and ideas of antiquity that continue to influence culture today.
An NYU emeritus professor of history, sociology and comparative literature, Cantor does for antiquity what he did for medieval times in his acclaimed The Civilization of the Middle Ages. With his characteristic eloquence and lucid insights, he offers a majestic introductory survey of the major empires of the ancient world, divided into two parts. The first provides a basic narrative of Hellenistic culture, the Roman Empire and Christianity. In clear prose, Cantor outlines the development of each of those cultures without many details about the evolution of each society. In the second part, he offers a more detailed exploration of the development of each of these ancient cultures, as well as ancient Judaism and Egypt. For example, in his chapter on Rome, Cantor discusses in detail the rise of jurisprudence and the Roman emphasis on civil society that can be traced to Cicero and Caesar. Cantor offers some wonderfully rich characterizations of ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates was a "hippie stonecutter who expounded on philosophy in the Athenian marketplace, perhaps to avoid going home to face his shrewish wife"; Plato was "part of a fast crowd of rich young men"; his Academy was the first talk show. Although Cantor makes a few missteps the Gnostics are not also called the Manichees, though the latter might have practiced Gnosticism Cantor offers a splendid and accessible portrait of the cultures of the ancient world. Maps not seen by PW.