This book looks at a crucial but little known period of Greek history - a century that began with power in the hands of the Greek city states, most famously Athens, Sparta and Thebes, but that ended with Greece as just one of the battlefields in the wars between the successors of Alexander the Great.
The first half of this period is the most obscure. This is the period in which the world of the city states began to collapse. Athens had just suffered defeat, while Sparta was struggling to come to terms with her new position in the public eye. Sparta's failure to use her new power wisely led to her defeat at the hands of Thebes, and the creation of a power vacuum that was eventually filled by Philip of Macedon.
The key to the success of this book is Scott's decision to focus on the individuals caught up in this period of change - the leaders, philosophers and soldiers and their reactions to fast moving events. Almost forgotten figures leap back into the limelight to give us a much larger cast of characters than is normally the case, reminding us that this period was much more complex than just the 'rise of Macedonia' or the 'fall of Athens'.
Scott has produced a very readable and enjoyable account of this period, bringing part of the ancient world vividly back to life (sometimes by picking a particular side in a historical controversy - an example being his portrayal of the Athenian orator Demosthenes, here seen as preventing any chance of peace, but sometimes seen as the last great defender of Athenian democracy).
1 Flute Players and Pick Axes
2 The City of (Crass) Long-Haired Warriors
3 Dancing with the Persian King
4 'Serious Business for Tomorrow'
5 The Vegetarian Philosopher and the Body-Building Philanthropist
6 The Slippery Fish
7 The Clash of Philosopher and Tyrant
8 The Implosion of Greece
9 The Cow's Bladder, the Love Curse and the Caricature
10 Ten Years That Changed the Ancient World: 362-352 BC
11 Survival Strategies
12 Saviour or Tyrant?
13 The Final Showdown
14 From Father to Son
15 Ruling the Ancient World
16 You've Never Had it So Good
17 A New World
Author: Michael Scott
Publisher: Icon Books