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From Homer to Gutenberg: Ancient Greek and Its Afterlives

Podcast 21st June 2024

David Butterfield David
  •  Butterfield, David David Butterfield

In this talk, delivered on the island of Samos in Greece in August 2023 as part of Ralston College’s Master’s in the Humanities program, Dr David Butterfield—Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge—charts how Western Europe came to appreciate the language and culture of ancient Greece as an integral part of its own civilizational inheritance.

Dr Butterfield explains that large-scale technological and cultural changes in late antiquity led to a gradual loss of Greek language proficiency—and a waning interest in the pagan world—among Western European intellectuals during the Early Middle Ages. While the Scholasticism of the High Middle Ages was invigorated by the rediscovery of the Greek philosophical tradition, this encounter was mediated almost entirely through Latin translations. It was only in the Renaissance—when a renewed appreciation of the Hellenic world on its own terms led to a revitalization of Greek language study—that our contemporary conception of Classics was fully established.



Authors, Ideas, and Works Mentioned in this Episode: 

  • Homer
  • Magna Graecia 
  • Pythagoras
  • Odyssey
  • Cato the Elder 
  • Third Macedonian War
  • Great Library of Alexandria
  • Great Library of Pergamum
  • Horace, Epistles  
  • Emperor Augustus 
  • Codex Sinaiticus
  • Constantine 
  • Neoplatonism 
  • Plato
  • Charlemagne 
  • Carolingian Renaissance
  • Virgil
  • Ovid
  • Abbasid Caliphate 
  • Avveroës 
  • Avicenna 
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Petrarch
  • Ottoman Conquest
  • Epicurus 
  • Lucretius 
  • Aristotle 
  • Gutenberg
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