In all areas of activity, the Greeks lived in an “agonistic” culture, that is, one driven by competition. This was no less true than in their reflection on excellence, a notion they passionately struggled to understand and define. Through six of the greatest poets and thinkers of the Archaic period (Homer, Hesiod, Tyrtaeus, Solon, Xenophanes, and Sappho), John David Lewis provides us with a vivid picture of the intellectual character that the Greeks developed to understand themselves and that laid the foundation for their unique civilization.

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