4 out of 4 stars
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When I saw From Savagery to Civilization: The Power of Greek Mythology, I instantly decided to read it. It is an excellent book authored by Vincent Hannity who has been exploring classic literature for more than 50 years.
The book begins with a timeline of the classical world and a map of ancient Greece and Italy. The writer explicates the commonalities between ancient myths: war and bloodshed, graphic sexuality by gods and men, human endurance in suffering, heroic warriors, goddesses and women of alluring beauty and sexuality, and examples of authentic humanity (love and compassion). An underlying theme runs through these myths although they are diverse and arise from different contexts. They convey the story of the maturation of Greek culture from savagery to civilization.
I enjoyed reading Hannity’s analysis of the Bronze Age (3000-1000 BC) which was “nasty, brutish, and short.” Further on, his explanation made me aware of how people survived through hardship and suffering to become wiser and more sophisticated. I liked his narratives of the creation myths and critique of Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex. One of the most touching scenes is where two enemies (Priam and Achilles) weep together. This is my favorite part of the book.
The theme of suffering, dying, and rising in classic literature has surprised me and is causing me to reflect on how it must have influenced Christianity. Reading this book will probably have an impact on my theological reflections in the future. The author’s analysis of Greek texts and how they influenced Roman/Latin literature is intriguing. Although I have explored classical western philosophy, and the themes considered in this book are not new to me, I have personally gained a lot from it. The author explains the development of classical mythology from savagery to civilization.
Hannity has a degree in English, and this book is very well edited. I did not find a single grammatical error. The font is suitable for the theme, and the text glows with clarity of thought as well as depth. The illustrations by Erin Ann Jensen have a profound impact on the reader. On the cover page, the artist depicts the essence of Greek mythology through the portrait of a person with tearful eyes. The poignant humanness of this personality exudes from the sketch.
For all the above reasons, I am very happy to award this book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it for adults who are interested in learning more about classical western literature. Scripture scholars and theologians doing research on Judaism and Christianity will benefit immensely from the author’s insights. Philosophers, psychologists, poets, and dramatists will also find it very entertaining.
From Savagery to Civilization
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