Even though you might never stop to think about it, the ancient world and the civilizations it produced are with you in almost everything you do. The ancient world has influenced our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.
When Columbus arrived in America in 1492 he found a culture possessing many features which the Spanish invaders understood: hierarchical states rulers living in splendour, fine buildings, specialist craftsmen and a religion that dominated the lives of the population. …
Where do we come from? How did our ancestors settle this planet? How did the great historic civilizations of the world develop? How does a past so shadowy that it has to be painstakingly reconstructed from fragmentary, largely unwritten records nonetheless make us who and what we are?
In the 1st century B.C., Rome's matchless armies consolidated control over the entire Mediterranean world, and Greece lay vanquished along with scores of other formerly independent lands—yet the Roman poet Horace saw something special in Greece when he wrote "Greece, the captive, made her savage victor captive."