Peter Acton reviews 'The Classical Debt: Greek antiquity in an Era of austerity' by Johanna Hanink

Peter Acton reviews 'The Classical Debt: Greek antiquity in an Era of austerity' by Johanna Hanink

The Classical Debt: Greek antiquity in an Era of austerity

by Johanna Hanink

Belknap Press (Footprint), $64.99 hb, 352 pp, 9780674971547

‘They rose from nothing and changed everything.’  This fantastic, fawning, fallacious guff introduced a 2016 PBS documentary on ancient Greece, and the biography of the sentiment behind it forms the subject of this unusual social history. Irritated by the fact that almost every media report, political speech, and cartoon about Greece’s current travails plays on the contrast between modern Greece and the glory that was Athens, Johanna Hanink has produced a wide-ranging and thoroughly researched analysis of Western attitudes to Greece from classical times right up to the current financial and refugee crises.

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Peter Acton

Peter Acton

Peter Acton was a vice president of The Boston Consulting Group from 1986 to 1999. His book Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens will be published by Oxford University Press in late 2014. He is president of Humanities 21 (www.humanities21.com.au)