Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yale Classical - this is not a podcast review

The Open Courses on Yale are not brought as a podcast. You will have to use other means than a podcatcher to download the episodes. I import them into iTunes as music and then alter the file settings to those of podcasts, which most importantly is setting 'remember playback position'. Many courses this semester and in others, are very interesting on face value. The one that I picked up first and I wish to review here is Donald Kagan's Introduction to Ancient Greek History.

An initial snag in the course is Kagan's throat condition. He coughs and scrapes and rattles so frequently, unable to clear his throat, especially in the first lectures, it nearly put me off. After nine lectures this has either nearly died down, or I have grown so used to it and become so engaged, I am hooked. There is still lots to come, but even at this early stage into the history, I have had so many questions answered and so many new things learned, the course has become extremely rewarding.

Simply irresistible is Kagan's self-acclaimed inclination towards the 'higher naïveté', which means he accepts the factual possibility of anything mentioned in the old sources about Ancient Greek history, as long is it is not supernatural, or falsified by archeology. It turns the story of the Greeks into a narrative full of imagination and wonder. And while wondering, asking for example how the Greeks could have acquired their economic and cultural wealth and how hoplite warfare would have been, Kagan delivers answers. His answers, he credits specifically to Victor Davis Hanson, which is exciting for those who have heard Hanson in other podcasts as well as for the charm of Kagan - both naive, great story-teller as well as modest, who wouldn't love a professor like that?

More Yale:
Game theory - Yale online course review.

More Classics:
Political Science - UCLA Podcast review,
Some things Classical,
Roman History in podcasts,
Berkeley's History 4A.

More Victor Davis Hanson:
Hardcore History.

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