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This is evident in one of the strongest chapters of , dealing with Stoicism, Epicureans and philosophical therapy as a means to the good life.

It's worth bearing in mind that the word "attic" originates in Greece: Attica was the area around Athens, which gave its name to a type of elegant architecture, which gave its name to a type of column, which gave its name to a raised room.

Weaving together the charming narrative of his own journey with bright, intelligent discussions of the great themes of ancient culture - love, the gods, the meaning of life - serves a serious purpose.

Slattery is determined to display the continuing relevance of Greek and Roman culture for us today.

Homer's story of violence, defeat, heroism and respect for the enemy becomes all the more powerful when it is brought into dialogue with our own need for myth and truth.

Then Slattery is off to Ithaca, the home Odysseus took so long to reach.

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Dating Aphrodite: Modern Adventures in the Ancient World By Luke Slattery ABC Books, 270pp, .95 (hardback) The dust is blown off a powerful and much neglected part of our cultural heritage, writes Michael Mc Girr.

Some time ago, the son of a friend of mine had reached a stage of life where he liked nothing more than to unsettle his father.

Nearing the end of year 12, he thought he had at last found the means to put the old man well and truly off his cornflakes.

Ironically, pushing relevance too hard has a bathetic effect - it veers to the ridiculous.

What, for example, can we learn from paganism, with its multiple, limited and imperfect gods? It sounds quite nice, but really what it means is that religious people should give up their beliefs.

Given that Slattery's persuasive argument for a new classical literacy is based on an understanding that "the classical world is contemporary", it wouldn't hurt to recall that Christianity is also still around. It touches on the resonances between Gallipoli and Troy, it goes to Ithaca, it retells superbly the story of Alexander the Great, it undertakes a small odyssey in search of the writer Paddy Leigh Fermor, it investigates the tensions between Apollo and Dionysius, it explores the figure of Pan, it seeks to rescue love from the claws of cliche.

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