Please take notes while listening. You should be able to articulate the major themes and arguments of Kagan’s talk. In order to do this, it is necessary to concentrate: turn the music off and focus on how Kagan answers the question, ‘Why Study the Greeks?’
Professor Donald Kagan of Yale explains why people should study the ancient Greeks. He argues that the Greeks are worthy of our study not only because of their vast achievements and contributions to Western civilization (such as in the fields of science, law, and politics) but also because they offer a unique perspective on humanity. To the Greeks, man was both simultaneously capable of the greatest achievements and the worst crimes; he was both great and important, but also mortal and fallible. He was a tragic figure, powerful but limited. Therefore, by studying the Greeks, one gains insight into a tension that has gripped and shaped the West and the rest of the world through its influence. In short, to study the Greeks is to study the nature of human experience.