Audience: Young Children
In 'Ancient Cultures and Civilizations: The Culture of Athens', Vic Kovacs provides a clear and helpful overview of the political structure in Athens, religion in Athens, and the major political and military conflicts between Athens and other polities and cities. Though a long period of history is unaddressed in the volume, I nonetheless recommend the volume for public and private libraries.
Previously, I reviewed Vic Kovacs' Ancient Cultures and Civilizations, The Culture of Sparta. In this volume, Kovacs shifts from Sparta to Athens: Ancient Cultures and Civilizations: The Culture of Athens. Divided into five chapters, the volume details various aspects of Athenian culture and history: a broad overview of ancient Athens, Athens as it is concerned with democracy, the military in Athens, daily life in Athens, and the downfall of Athens.
Overall, the book provides a clear and helpful overview of the political structure in Athens, religion in Athens, and the major political and military conflicts between Athens and other polities and cities. With its simple language and clear communication, the book is oriented towards elementary school students and middle school students. As such, teachers would benefit from having this book in their private or classroom libraries, just as it would be an excellent addition to a school library.
There is one major shortfall of the volume, though. In describing the downfall and legacy of Athens, Kovacs notes that Athens was defeated in 404 BCE by the Spartans, who were funded by the Persian Empire. Kovacs then comments that “the city was banned from having a navy, its great walls were torn down, and it entered a period of decline” (26). The timeline picks up again in the 2nd century BCE: “By 146 B.C., Athens, along with the rest of Greece, became members of the Roman Empire, following the destruction of the city of Corinth” (28). What is unclear is what sort of events occurred in Athens between 404 BCE and 146 BCE. It would be helpful if Kovacs at least provided some insight into the cultural and political situation over that period of roughly 250 years.
Though 250 years of history in Athens is ignored, I nonetheless recommend Ancient Cultures and Civilizations: The Culture of Athens for libraries, both teacher’s libraries and public libraries.