Luck, Fate and Fortune
The impulse to try to anticipate the future, and make sense of apparently random events, is irrepressible. Why and how the ancient Greeks tried to foretell the outcome of the present is the subject of Esther Eidinow's lively appraisal, which explores the legacy of classical notions of luck, fate and fortune in our own era. Perhaps themost famous of all sites of prediction is the Oracle at Delphi. Delphi is still invoked when business people today discuss future strategy and risk, there is even a strategic planning technique called the 'Delphi Method'. But the Delphic Oracle is only the best known example from a landscape covered by oracular sanctuaries, while across the literary genres of antiquity there are myriad tales - such as that of doomed Oedipus - which wrestle with the cruel vicissitudes of fate and fortune.Exploring some of the key ideas of ancient Greek culture that resonate with modern conceptions of destiny and the future, Esther Eidinow examines the ancients' notion of luck as a means to explain daily experiences and ultimate agency. Focusing on writers such as Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Demosthenes, she demonstrates how concepts of fate in antiquity changed over time, in response to social and political currents. Drawing also on modern cultural texts like Lawrence of Arabia and Terminator 2, the author shows how the recurring questions 'what if?' and 'why me?' are fundamental to the human relationship with anuncertain future, whether in the ancient past or the present day.
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