Like Famous Men of Rome, Famous Men of Greece introduces ancient history in the manner of Plutarch, by means of thirty-one short (4-5 page) biographies of the great men of Ancient Greece. It begins back at the point where history merges with legend, and ends with the fall of Greece to Rome in 146 B.C.
The introduction gives a brief description of the pantheon of mythical gods and goddesses of Greece. The book explains that this is how the Greek citizen of ancient times would have started with the historical record -- that though we call these stories "myths" now, they tell us something about how the people thought in those days. From there, the first nine chapters cover figures of legend -- where possible truth is mixed with make-believe. These stories are also important to Greek history, because they show what the Greeks valued in their heroes and the stories they learned and told to each other. Starting with Chapter X on Lycurgus the Spartan who lived in the 9th century B.C., we reach the actual historical record. The book advises the student to learn to discern between history, legend and myth in his reading and to ask himself "What things in this story could really have happened?"
My children, who use this book as a history spine in 4th grade, have all loved these tales of Greek heroes and statesmen. In addition to showing the continuum between legend and historical records, these books provide what to me is of first importance: lessons in evaluating people and events through an ethical, Christian perspective. History learned by stories is more easily remembered for children grades 3 to 7 than lists of facts and details to memorize for tests. Also, this is the way the ancients themselves learned and wrote history; showing the importance of their values through the lives of their good and their bad leaders.