The magnificent civilization created by the ancient Greeks and Romans is the greatest legacy of the classical world. However, narratives about the "civilized" Greek and Roman empires resisting the barbarians at the gate are far from accurate. Tony Spawforth, an esteemed scholar, author, and media contributor, follows the thread of civilization through more than six millennia of history. His story reveals that Greek and Roman civilization, to varying degrees, was supremely and surprisingly receptive to external influences, particularly from the East. From the rise of the Mycenaean world of the sixteenth century B.C., Spawforth traces a path through the ancient Aegean to the zenith of the Hellenic state and the rise of the Roman empire, the coming of Christianity and the consequences of the first caliphate. Deeply informed, provocative, and entirely fresh, this is the first and only accessible work that tells the extraordinary story of the classical world in its entirety.