I have been deliberately selective here. Apart from in the first, ‘General’ section, I have usually restricted my recommendations to just one or two books or accessible articles, written in English. Suggestions for even further further reading are often given in the works cited below, especially in my Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece (‘Further Reading’, pp. 371–3).

Special mention, however, must be made at the outset of Kathleen Freeman’s Greek City-States, first published in 1950 by the long defunct Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. of Ludgate Hill in the City of London. Quite by chance, after I had completed in Cambridge the research for and the writing up of this book, I stumbled across a second-hand copy of Freeman’s book in the famous Strand Bookshop on Broadway in New York City (where I hold a visiting position at New York University, as Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in the Theory and History of Democracy). Or rather—I stumbled across it again: for, as I at once recognized, this had been the set textbook for a class on ancient Greek history that I had taken at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the spring semester of 1965, under Professor Stylianos Spyridakis (now of the University of California at Davis).

Freeman opens with a quotation from Max Cary’s The Geographic Background of Greek and Roman History (Oxford University Press, 1949): ‘Geographic factors count for much in history; but personality is an even greater force.’ Well, that, in my view, depends…But I completely agree, of course, with what Freeman herself claims in her Preface, that ‘If the Greek world is really to be understood we must know not only about Athens and Sparta, but about the islands of the Aegean Sea, the Greek cities of Sicily and Italy and Asia Minor, and the other cities of mainland Greece’; and with her decision therefore to cast her book in the form of a series of individual city-studies. Freeman’s book is about twice as long as this one, yet she deals with just nine cities (Thourioi, Acragas, Corinth, Miletus, Cyrene, Seriphos, Abdera, Massalia, and Byzantion). We agree on only three of those choices (Chapters 5, 6, and 12, below), and I did not have the brass neck to deny chapters to Athens and Sparta. Moreover, almost sixty years of scholarship (especially by the Copenhagen POLIS Centre) have outmoded a considerable amount of what she says, and even in 1950 not everything she wrote was entirely accurate or persuasive. All the same, it is a pleasure to salute a forerunner and, for all I know, an unconscious inspiration to me from over four decades back.


1. Reference

Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, ed. R. Talbert (Princeton University Press, 2000; available also as CDRom).

The Cambridge Dictionary of Greek Civilization, ed. G. Shipley et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

C. Mee and A. Spawforth, Greece (Oxford Archaeological Guides, 2001).

Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edn., ed. S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (Oxford University Press, 1996 and updates).

Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, by John Roberts (Oxford University Press, 2007) [an abridged reworking of the OCD].

Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, ed. R. Stillwell (Princeton University Press, 1976).

2. Ancient Sources

i. Texts in Translation

M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest, 2nd edn. (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

S. Burstein, The Hellenistic Age from the Battle of Ipsos to the Death of Kleopatra VII (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

M. Crawford and D. Whitehead, Archaic and Classical Greece: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

M. Dillon and L. Garland, Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents from Archaic Times to the Death of Socrates (Routledge, 1994).

C. W. Fornara, Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War, 2nd edn. (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

P. Harding, From the End of the Peloponnesian War to the Battle of Ipsus (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

P. Rhodes, The Greek City States: A Sourcebook, 2nd edn. (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

ii. Archaeology, Language

S. E. Alcock and R. Osborne (eds.), Classical Archaeology (Blackwell, 2007).

A.-Ph. Christidis (ed.), A History of Ancient Greek: From the Beginnings to Late Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

3. Modern Works

i. One-volume Overviews

J. Boardman, J. Griffin, and O. Murray (eds.), The Oxford History of the Classical World (Oxford University Press, 1986).

R. Browning (ed.), The Greek World: Classical, Byzantine and Modern (Thames & Hudson, 1985).

P. Cartledge (ed.), The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece, rev. edn., paperback (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

C. Freeman, Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean, 2nd edn. (Oxford University Press, 2004), esp. chs. 8–19.

C. Higgins, It’s All Greek To Me: From Homer to the Hippocratic Oath: How Ancient Greece Has Shaped our World (Short Books, 2008).

P. Levi, Atlas of the Greek World (Phaidon, 1980).

ii. Historiography

M. Crawford (ed.), Sources for Ancient History (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

C. Fornara, The Nature of History in Ancient Greece and Rome (University of California Press, 1983).

J. Marincola (ed.), A Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography, 2 vols. (Blackwell, 2007).


1. Prehistory, General

O. Dickinson, The Aegean Bronze Age (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

C. Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilisation: The Cyclades and the Aegean in the Third Millennium B.C. (Cambridge University Press, 1972).

2. Protohistory and Early History to 500

J. Boardman, The Greeks Overseas: Their Early Colonies and Trade, 4th edn. (Thames & Hudson, 1999).

A. R. Burn, The Lyric Age of Greece (Methuen, 1960; rev. edn. 1978).

O. Dickinson, The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age (Routledge, 2006).

See also Murray 1993, Osborne 1996, Hall 2007, Desborough 1972, Coldstream 2004, and Jeffery 1976, below.


1. Fontana (Glasgow) series (Oswyn Murray, ed.)

O. Murray, Early Greece, 2nd edn. (1993).

J. K. Davies, Democracy and Classical Greece, 2nd edn. (1993).

F. W. Walbank, Hellenistic Greece, 2nd edn. (1992).

2. Methuen/Routledge (London) series (Fergus Millar, ed.)

R. Osborne, Greece in the Making, 1200-480 BC (1996).

S. Hornblower, The Greek World, 479-323 BC, 3rd edn. (2002).

G. Shipley, The Greek World after Alexander, 323-30 BC (2000).

3. B. Blackwell (Oxford) series

J. Hall, A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BC (2007).

P. Rhodes, A History of the Classical Greek World (2007).

R. Malcolm Errington, A History of the Hellenistic World 323-30 BC (2008).

4. E. Benn (London) series

V. Desborough, The Greek Dark Ages (1972).

N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece (1977; rev. edn. Routledge, 2004).

L. H. Jeffery, Archaic Greece: The City States 700-500 BC (1976).


Chapter 1. Introduction

M. H. Hansen, Polis: An Introduction to the Ancient Greek City-State (Oxford University Press, 2006).

M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Chapter 2. Cnossos

A. Brown, Arthur Evans and the Palace of Minos (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1993).

G. Cadogan, E. Hatzaki, and A. Vasilakis (eds.), Knossos: Palace, City, State (BSA Studies 12, 2004).

J. Chadwick, The Decipherment of Linear B (Cambridge University Press, first edn. 1958; latest rev. edn. 1990).

L. Fitton, The Minoans (British Museum Press, 2002).

H. Morales, Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2007).


Note: The British School at Athens maintains a permanent Stratigraphic Museum at Cnossos, which complements the Greek Knossos Museum.

Chapter 3. Mycenae

J. Chadwick, The Decipherment of Linear B (Cambridge University Press, first edn. 1958; latest rev. edn. 1990).

J. Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (Cambridge University Press, 1976).

C. Gere, The Tomb of Agamemnon: Mycenae and the Search for a Hero (Profile Books, 2006).

M. Ventris and J. Chadwick, Documents in Mycenaean Greek (Cambridge University Press, first edn. 1956; rev. edn. 1973).

Note: Excavations at Mycenae have been undertaken by both the British School and Greek archaeologists since Heinrich Schliemann’s less than scholarly excavations in the 1870s.

Chapter 4. Argos

R. A. Tomlinson, Argos and the Argolid (Routledge, 1972).

Note: Excavations by the French School of Archaeology at Athens are published in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique.

Chapter 5. Miletus

E. Akurgal, Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey: From Prehistoric Times until the End of the Roman Empire, 3rd edn. (Mobil Oil Türk, Istanbul, 1973).

A. M. Greaves, Miletos: A History (Routledge, 2002).

K. Freeman, Greek City-States (Macdonald, 1950), 127–79.

Chapter 6. Massalia

M. Clavel-Lévêque, Marseille Grecque: La Dynamique d’un impérialisme marchand (Jeanne Laffitte, Marseille, 1977).

A. Hermary, ‘The Greeks in Marseilles and the Western Mediterranean’, in V. Karageorghis (ed.), The Greeks Beyond the Aegean: From Marseilles to Bactria (A.G. Leventis Foundation, Nicosia, 2004), 59–77.

B. B. Shefton, ‘Massalia and Colonization in the North-Western Mediterranean’, in G. R. Tsetskhladze and F. De Angelis (eds.), The Archaeology of Greek Colonisation: Essays Dedicated to Sir John Boardman (Oxbow Books, 1994), ch. 5.

K. Freeman, Greek City-States (Macdonald, 1950), 233–49.

Chapter 7. Sparta

P. Cartledge, The Spartans: An Epic History, 2nd edn. (Pan Macmillan & Vintage, 2003).

P. Cartledge, Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History 1300-362 BC, new edn. (Routledge, 2002).

P. Cartledge and A. Spawforth, Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities, rev. edn. (Routledge, 2002).

R. M. Dawkins (ed.), Artemis Orthia (Journal of Hellenic Studies, Supp. V, 1929).

Note: The British School at Athens, in collaboration with the Hellenic Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities based in Sparta, has recently recommenced excavations at the Spartan acropolis, where it first excavated in 1906. Results are normally published in the Annual of the British School at Athens and its supplements.

Chapter 8. Athens

J. M. Camp II (ed.), The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and the Museum, 4th edn. (American School of Classical Studies, Athens, 1990).

J. M. Camp II, The Athenian Agora: Excavations in the Heart of Classical Athens (Thames & Hudson, 1986 and rev. repr.).

J. M. Camp II, The Archaeology of Athens (Yale University Press, 2004).

J. M. Hurwit, The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 1999).

L. Parlama and N. Ch. Stampolidis (eds.), The City Beneath the City: Antiquities from the Metropolitan Railway Excavations (Catalogue, exhibition at N. P. Goulandris Foundation Museum for Cycladic Art, Athens, 2000).

Note: Official Greek excavation of Athens began under the auspices of the Archaeological Society (founded 1837). The Society still flourishes and excavates, but most archaeological projects in Athens and Attica are now conducted under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Service, a branch of the Ministry of Culture. The American School of Classical Studies has excavated in the Agora since 1931 and publishes both a monograph series and an invaluable, general reader-friendly series entitled ‘Agora Picture Books’.

Chapter 9. Syracuse

K. J. Dover, The Greeks (Oxford University Press, 1980), ch. 2.

M. I. Finley, Ancient Sicily to the Arab Conquest, 2nd edn. (Chatto & Windus, 1979).

B. Daix Wescoat (ed.), Syracuse, the Fairest Greek City: Ancient Art from the Museo Archeologico Regionale ‘Paolo Orsi’ (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995).

R. Wilson, Sicily under the Roman Empire (Aris & Phillips, 1990).

Chapter 10. Thebes

J. Buckler, The Theban Hegemony, 371-362 B.C. (Harvard University Press, 1980).

K. Demakopoulou and D. Konsola, Archaeological Museum of Thebes (Athens, 1981).

Chapter 11. Alexandria

J-Y. Empereur, Alexandria: Past, Present and Future (French original 2001; Thames & Hudson, 2002).

M. Haag, Alexandria: City of Memory (Yale University Press, 2004).

P. Leriche, ‘The Greeks in the Orient: From Syria to Bactria’, in V. Karageorghis (ed.), The Greeks Beyond the Aegean: From Marseilles to Bactria (A. G. Leventis Foundation, Nicosia, 2004), 78–128.

J. Pollard and H. Reid, The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World (Viking Penguin, 2006; Penguin Books, 2007).

Chapter 12. Byzantion

E. Akurgal, Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey: From Prehistoric Times until the End of the Roman Empire, 3rd edn. (Mobil Oil Türk, Istanbul, 1973), s.v. ‘Byzantium’.

K. Freeman, Greek City-States (Macdonald, 1950), 251–62.

Appendix. The Panhellenic Sanctuaries

1. Olympia

M. I. Finley and H. W. Pleket, The Olympic Games: The First Thousand Years (Chatto & Windus, 1976).

J. J. Herrmann, Jr. and C. Kondoleon, Games for the Gods: The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Spirit (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004).

T. Measham, E. Spathari, and P. Donnelly, 1000 Years of the Olympic Games: Treasures of Ancient Greece (Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Athens, & Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 2000).

J. Swaddling, The Ancient Olympic Games, new edn. (British Museum, 1999 and repr.).

Note: The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) at Athens has been excavating at Olympia since 1896 and publishes two scholarly series, Olympia-Bericht and Olympische Forschungen. In connection with the Munich Olympics of 1972 the GAI published a scholarly exhibition catalogue: 100 Jahre deutsche Ausgrabung in Olympia, ed. B. Fellmann and H. Scheyhing (Prestel-Verlag, Munich).

2. Delphi

B. Chr. Petracos, Delphi (Hesperos, Athens, 1971).

The Wikipedia entry ‘Delphi’ has, unusually, useful links.

Note: The French School of Archaeology at Athens has been excavating at Delphi since 1893 and publishes a scholarly series, with Supplementary volumes, entitled Études Delphiques.

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