Across history, civilizational renewal always takes root in the heritage of the classics
Fun fact: I actually bought my copy of Dover's Greek Homosexuality at a street market in Dar es Salaam in 2006. There must have been a vogue for the classics in Swahili-speaking lands at that time...
Having just read Henrich's book 'The Weirdest People in the World,' I wonder if the way the West broke up kinship networks and traditional clans has something to do with this. We're less likely to define ourselves through genealogy - and perhaps that applies to cultural as well as genetic relationships, to our identity as a culture as well as individuals.
It may be, in any case, that most other cultures just don't construct strange mythical narratives about how they don't descend from the ancients.
A great read. I'll be checking out your book. Do you see the Arabic translation movement under the Islamic Empire as being a continuation of the pre-Islamic education/scholarship efforts of the Sasanian kings?
I like your emphasis on the cross-pollination of ideas sparking intellectual resurgences in areas where the embers of learning had previously died out. Modern framing often makes it seem like these things happened in a vacuum.