Edith Hamilton was one of the mid-twentieth century's foremost Classicists: along with Michael Grant, she sought to take the Classics (the traditional Western Humanities) out of the rarefied atmosphere of the Halls of Academia.
The New York Times has described her as the Classical Scholar who "brought into clear and brilliant focus the Golden Age of Greek life and thought ... with Homeric power and simplicity in her style of writing".
Edith Hamilton understood that most people related to stories, lesson taught in a narrative manner, rather than the dry exacting language of academics. Today she is most remembered for her book "Mythology" which has become a standard in many college courses.
None of this is meant to be a condemnation of the strict academics, but some perspective is needed to foster a love of the Classics among the non-scholars, while not watering down the lessons of the Humanities through pop culture.
The problem with watering down is several popular presumptions: Athens was the sole bastion of representative government, and intellectual and artistic enlightenment; Sparta was a stilted military autocracy; the Ionian Greeks and their importance is forgotten; Rome was nothing but a military power about expansionism that fell; Northern Europe of Antiquity was full of bellicose barbarians that didn't any better; and so on.
These generalities almost all of the time ignore the richness and multi-layered understanding of the culture of the West and Mediterranean regions, and their key in the genesis of civilization. Modern Historians and Philosophers believe in the purely material cause of civilization's rise, that people developed when they were finally able to have surplus. The Classical understanding of human endeavors was one of character, religion, and culture producing a loftiness of living.
The Echo of Greece is Hamilton's exposition on the key part that Greece had in influence the West throughout its' history. She does not limited her book to the main highlights the public is familiar with but delves into the people and culture that shaped those fundamental things that separate Western Civilization from the rest of the world. This can be seen in her opening chapter: Freedom, which sets the stage to mark out Greek culture from the massive slave empires of Western Asia. Central to this is the Greek idea of sophrosune.
This conception of what freedom means dawned upon the Greeks. The quality they valued most- the Greek word is sophrosune- cannot be expressed by any one single English word. It is oftenest translated by self-control.. It was the spirit behind the two Delphic sayings "Know thyself" and "Nothing in excess." Arrogance, insolent self-assertion, was of all qualities detested by the Greeks.
-from Chapter I, The Echo of Greece, by Edith Hamilton
The book continues through the phases and people of Greek culture's influence in chapters called: Freedom, Athens' Failure, The Schools of Athens, The School of Teachers (covering Isocrates, Plato, and Aristotle), Demosthenes, Alexander the Great, Menander, The Stoics (Zeno and Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius), Plutarch, The Greek Way and The Roman Way.
One of the things that will strike the observant reader is how different the West of the last fifty years is, in terms of culture and virtues, than that of the prior two millennium. In reference to the first chapter the change in the connotation of "freedom" from the exercise of virtue to the licence to engage in dissolution.
However the end note of the book is a quote of Aristotle's: "the excellent becomes the permanent." The Echo of Greece is an excellent work for those of the traditional or classical mindset, or for homeschoolers with high school aged children.