Friday, December 16, 2011


Simon Hornblower, The Greek World, 479-323 BC. Fourth Edition (first published 1983). Routledge History of the Ancient World. Abingdon; New York: Routledge, 2011. Pp. xxi, 410. ISBN 9780415602921. $42.95.

Reviewed by Louise J. Gaukroger, University of Kent (

Version at BMCR home site


Fifth- and fourth-century BC. Greek history is a period which is studied frequently in Classical and Ancient History courses at many colleges and universities, and this is precisely the period which Simon Hornblower has addressed in his latest edition of The Greek World, 479-323 BC. As this is a book which has already appeared in three separate editions and it has been widely used, for many it should need no introduction. But for those who are not familiar with the work, I shall provide a quick synopsis.

The Greek World, 479-323 BC was first published thirty years ago and has appeared on many undergraduate reading lists since. The book is divided into nineteen chapters, the first fourteen of which address fifth century history beginning with the end of the Persian Wars. The remaining chapters are an account of fourth- century events, with the final two chapters detailing the lives of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. There are also eight chapters devoted to separate regions. These provide an overview of locations within the Greek world that do not always receive detailed treatment, such as fifth-century Macedon and Kyrene. There are few works which detail the events of these regions alongside the events of Greek history. The target audience for this work is mainly undergraduate students, or those new to the subject area, but it remains a useful text for quick reference to those with greater knowledge in this field.

The main addition to the new edition is a four and a half page subsection on the Greek Islands (pp. 37-42). This provides a brief outline of how the islands were affected by dominant city states like Athens and the Persian Empire, and also how some islands interacted with and influenced their neighbours. I found this new aspect informative and interesting, but I would have liked this area to have been expanded. There is definitely potential to enlarge this sub- section into a regional chapter of its own, with perhaps further emphasis on how the supremacy of the Athenians during this period impacted the islands and their relationships with their neighbours, especially those under Persian control.

Another useful feature of this edition is the inclusion of references to P. J. Rhodes and R. Osborne's Greek Historical Inscriptions vol. 2: 404 - 323 BC (2003) alongside the previous references to P. Harding (1985). There are few amendments to the main content of the book, but as this is already such a well respected piece of modern scholarship, there would seem to be no need to make drastic changes. The Greek World has thus far endured the test of time and remains one of the leading textbooks on Greek History, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so for many years to come.

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