On the Spot: Paul Cartledge


Pnyx Plateau in Athens with the Acropolis in the background. Photo February 2021. WikiCommons / George E. Coronaios.

Why are you a historian of ancient Greece?

I knew by age eight that I loved Homer and wanted to be a historian.

What is the most important lesson history has taught you?

That it is historians who make history.

Which history book has had the biggest impact on you?

Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (by the historian who impressed me the most).

What book should everyone in your field read?

gibbon’s decline and fall,

At what point would you like to go back?

The democratic assembly on the Pnyx hill in 448 BC when the Athenians voted on the building program that would produce the Parthenon.

Which historian has had the biggest influence on you?

Gem de Ste. Crocs.

Which person in history would you like to meet?

Sir Walter Raleigh.

How many languages ​​do you have?

Spoken: English and French. Reading: Greek (ancient and modern), Latin, German, Italian.

On what historical subject have you changed your mind?

That historiography will keep getting better and better.

What is the most common misconception about your field?

That ancient history is ancient. All history is contemporary.

Which genre of history do you like the least?

I like them all but I am least impressed with econometric history.

Which is the most exciting sector in history today?

History of political thought.

Is there an important historical text you haven’t read?

Where to start? code of hammurabi In his native Akkadian, perhaps.

What is your favorite collection?

Attic Inscriptions Online.

Which is the best museum?

Acropolis Museum, Athens.

Which technology has changed the world the most?


Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean?

Mediterranean Sea.

Historical Drama or Documentary?

Documentary (without re-enactments).

Parthenon or Machu Picchu?

The Parthenon (no contest).

For what will the coming generations judge us harshest?

destroy the planet

Paul Cartledge Emeritus AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, Clare College, Cambridge, and has recently authored Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece (Picador, 2020).


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