The Story of Civilization, Vol II: The Life of Greece

by Will Durant

Hardcover, 1939




Simon and Schuster (1939), 754 pages


The second volume of Will Durant's Pulitzer Prize-winning series, The Life of Greece: The Story of Civilization, Volume 2 chronicles the history of ancient Greek civilization. Here Durant tells the whole story of Greece, from the days of Crete's vast Aegean empire to the final extirpation of the last remnants of Greek liberty, crushed under the heel of an implacably forward-marching Rome. The dry minutiae of battles and sieges, of tortuous statecraft of tyrant and king, get the minor emphasis in what is preeminently a vivid recreation of Greek culture, brought to the reader through the medium of supple, vigorous prose.In this masterful work, readers will learn about:- the siege of Troy- the great city-states of Athens and Sparta- the heroes of Homer's epics- the gods and lesser deities of Mount Olympus- the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle- the life of Alexander the Great… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

754 p.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AlexTheHunn
Durant discusses and analyzes the contributions of Greece to art, poetry, drama, philosophy, mathematics, science etc. Along the way, Greek political and military history enter into the equation. While not exhaustive, the work is a fine coverage of the field.
LibraryThing member HankIII
It took me more than a year to slog through it. I'm astonished that a human being could actually write a tome chock full with information about such a great and fascinating time and culture. Admittedly there were times that I thought I would give up in some of the less interesting parts, but I feel
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I am a better man and reader for not doing so. Almost want to read it again, but I'll wait until I turn 70.
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LibraryThing member MarcusBastos
Our Greek Heritage
Volume two of Will Durant's History of Civilization exposes in rich details the Greek empire, its birth, development and fall. The books gives great atention to greek arts, literature, philosophy and politics. The story is well written and Durant often gave his interpretation of
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the events (for some readers too often, a point they identified as a fault). The way Durant exposes centuries of history in regard to greek civilization and the relations he sees about each one of the events make this book worth reading and an useful tool for a better understanding of our age and culture.
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LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
After the preprepatory volume, about the end of pre-history, and a very brief survey of the Asian civilizations, Durant gets into stride with this survey volume on Greek history, and philosophy. The philosophical essays are quite informative, and the rest of the background covered reasonably well.
LibraryThing member mattries37315
The foundations of European and thus “Western civilization” were founded on the shores of the Aegean Seas among the Hellenes on the western coast of Anatolia before returning to their brethren in the ‘old country.’ The Life of Greece is the second volume of Will Durant’s The Story of
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Civilization series in which the focus of the series turns to the western peninsula of the Eurasia landmass.

From the rise of the Minoans on Crete to the Roman conquest, Durant follows the ups and downs of Grecian civilization and culture. Covering a millennium and a half of time over an ever increasing amount of area were Greek-influence spread, Durant divided the book into five “eras” that he gave an overview of the history then how those events affect the development of government, art, religion, philosophy, science, and everything else connected with culture. Highlight throughout the volume was Durant’s explanation of various schools of philosophy that developed and their relation to religion over that time as well. If there is a negative, it would be the fact that the book is over 80 years old and some of Durant’s information in the Minoan and Mycenean areas has been contradicted by new finds.

The Life of Greece tells the rise and fall of the “foundational” European culture before it was eclipsed and built upon by a rising power from the West.
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(110 ratings; 4.1)
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