úterý 22. února 2011

E. H. Gombrich - A little history of the world

Do you also remember the tale of the wily Odysseus?
How, returning from Troy, he experienced the strangest adventures,
Till, at last, on miraculous ships, he returned to his homeland,
To the wife who awaited her lord all the years of his absence.

Verses like these were chanted at feasts by Greek minstrels as they played their lyres. Later, they were written down and people came to believe that one poet, called Homer, had composed them all. They are read to this day and you, too, can enjoy them, for they are as fresh and vivid as ever - full of beauty and wisdom.
'Now wait a minute,' you're going to say. 'These are stories, not history. What I want to know is, when and how did these events take place?' A German businessman called Schliemann asked himself that same question, more than a hundred years ago. He read Homer over and over again, and longed to see all the beautiful places described by the poet. If only he could hold in his hands, just once, the wonderful weapons with which these heroes fought. And one day he did. For it turned out that all of it was true. Not in every detail, of course: the heroes named in the songs were no more real than the giants and witches in fairy tales. But the world that Homer describes - the drinking cups, the weapons, the buildings and the ships, the princes who were at the same time shepherds, and the heroes who were also sea raiders - were not inventions. When Schliemann told people this they laughed at him. But he didn't give up. He just kept putting money aside, so that one day he could go to Greece and see for himself. And when he had finally raised enough money, he hired labourers and set about digging in search of all the cities mentioned in Homer. At Mycenae he discovered palaces and the tombs of kings, armour and shields, just as the Homeric songs had described them. And he found Troy, too, and dug there. And it turned out that it really had been destroyed by fire.

Jen na vysvětlenou ke stylu - je to knížka pro děti. Ale já jsem systematickou historií docela nezasažená (pamatuju si z gymnázia, že jsme probírali antiku a pak byla maturita), tak vítám jakékoli přehledy, které se dobře čtou a doufám, že si něco z toho zapamatuju už napořád. Je to krásné vyprávění, od doby kamenné až po první světovou válku, a (tenhle týden už podruhé, ale nemůžu si pomoct) nejlepší je, když se čte nahlas - je to jako kdyby ty příběhy pro vás zrovna v tu chvíli někdo vymýšlel.

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