Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter

Abridged / Go to Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Thomas Cahill

Narrated By: Olympia Dukakis

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: October 2003

Duration: 7 hours 8 minutes


In the fourth volume of the acclaimed Hinges of History series, Thomas Cahill brings his characteristic wit and style to a fascinating tour of ancient Greece.
The Greeks invented everything from Western warfare to mystical prayer, from logic to statecraft. Many of their achievements, particularly in art and philosophy, are widely celebrated; other important innovations and accomplishments, however, are unknown or underappreciated. In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Thomas Cahill explores the legacy, good and bad, of the ancient Greeks. From the origins of Greek culture in the migrations of armed Indo-European tribes into Attica and the Peloponnesian peninsula, to the formation of the city-states, to the birth of Western literature, poetry, drama, philosophy, art, and architecture, Cahill makes the distant past relevant to the present.
Greek society is one of the two primeval influences on the Western world: While Jews gave us our value system, the Greeks set the foundation and framework for our intellectual lives. They are responsible for our vocabulary, our logic, and our entire system of categorization. They provided the intellectual tools we bring to bear on problems in philosophy, mathematics, medicine, physics, and the other sciences. Their modes of thinking, considered in classical times to be the pinnacle of human achievement, are largely responsible for the shape that the Christian religion took. But, as Cahill points out, the Greeks left a less appealing bequest as well. They created Western militarism and, in making the warrior the ultimate ideal, perpetrated the assumption that only males could be entrusted with the duties of citizenship. The consequences of their exclusion of women from the political sphere and the social segregation of the sexes continue to reverberate today. Full of surprising, often controversial, insights, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea is a remarkable intellectual adventure—conducted by the most companionable guide imaginable. Cahill’s knowledge of his sources is so intimate that he has made his own fresh translations of the Greek lyric poets for this volume.


  • Ignatz

    Cahill does not usually disappoint. His works are a credible addition to academic history and worthy of study. This is an early book and perhaps his attitudes have changed over time. It is a wonderful reprise of the legacy of Greek poetry, literature, theater and history. Unfortunately for some unknown reason Cahill injected some anachronistic political conclusions into the final chapters and adds a rather bizarre interpretation to Pericles Funerary Oratory that is rather trite. I also disagree with a female voice as narrator, but that may be a personal eccentricity. Still and all I wouldn't have missed this.

  • Anonymous

    Olympia Dukakis gives a striking reading for this audio program which spans the Greek Classical Age from the Dark Ages through to the dawn of Christianity. Her correct pronunciation of Greek names combined with an obvious interest in the subject shines through the sometimes simplistic prose of Cahill. Overall a very good audio program.

Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter

by Thomas Cahill

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Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, Thomas Cahill