There’s no high life here, only family life, so I’ve been hitting the books about great Greeks of the past, and they sure make today’s bunch look puny. Philosophers, playwrights, statesmen, artists, poets, orators, sculptors; the ancients had them all. After 2,500 years, they’ve never been equalled. I was once walking around the Greek wing at the New York Met and I ran into Henry Kissinger, whom I knew slightly. He asked me what the population of ancient Athens was. ‘About 20 to 30,000 citizens,’ I answered. He shook his head in amazement. ‘And they produced all this,’ he said.
When I first began learning about the Greeks — my great-uncle was the foremost intellectual of his time and a brilliant pedagogue — I was mystified by the collapse of Athens and Sparta.