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Greek Mythbuster

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Cambridge University have just appointed their first AG Leventis professor of Greek culture - Paul Cartledge. Mr. Cartledge is author of several authoritative books, including The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others (Opus)
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In his inaugural lecture, he apparently 'busted' some myths about Ancient Greece. The first of these was that there was, in fact, such a thing as Ancient Greece. Although they were united by religion and language, the city states, which numbered over 1000 and were spread from Marseille in the west to modern Turkey in the east, had different customs, political systems and calendars.

The second myth is that they were technologically backward. If you read my post about the Antikythera Mechanism, you'll see that this was definitely not the case.

He also pointed out that ancient Greeks definitely did not resemble their Hollywood impersonators. He stated that these movies "can be dangerous as well as enjoyable and provocative. They can pander to or influence cultural attempt or hatred," and thinks the Iranians were right to see the movie 300's depiction of the Persians as "an example of cultural denigration".

Finally, he busts the myth that the Greeks invented democracy in anything like the way that we recognise it now. Radical democracy was government by, for, and of the people, unlike modern representative democracies. Cartledge claims that Ancient Athenians would probably have regarded the British and American political systems as oligarchic.

Institutions vs Collabaration

Recently, someone shared with me a video with a talk by Clay Shirky on how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning.

Now, this talk was given over 3 years ago, but I still found it to be spot on in the way it points out that emerging technologies are enabling loose collaboration, which will change the way our society works. His observation on the emerging role of stay-at-home moms I found to be particularly relevant.

This video is about 20 minutes long, but I definitely feel that it's worth your while to watch it.

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