“Marcolongo is today’s Montaigne . . . There is wisdom and grace here to last the ages.”—André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name
Much has changed since 490 BCE when the indefatigable Philippides ran to Athens with news of the city’s victory over the Persians. One thing, however, hasn’t changed: it is still 26 punishing miles from Marathon to the Acropolis. Each year, thousands of professional athletes and millions of amateur enthusiasts replicate Philippides’s enterprise.
Why do we run? Where does this love of muscle, speed, sweat, and of testing one’s limits come from? The Greeks were the first to ask these questions and indeed wonder why we choose to measure ourselves against others; they were the first to appreciate that mens sana in corpore sano. The Greeks invented sport and understood from the beginning how it connected to emotional and mental well-being.
After years spent with her head and heart in the books, trying to think like a Greek, Marcolongo decides to learn how to run like a Greek. In doing so, she not only discovers a great deal more about the culture and civilization she has spent decades studying, but also learns much about herself. In this spirited, generous, and erudite book, she shares not only her scholarship but also her own journey to understanding that a healthy body is a healthy mind.
Andrea Marcolongo is an Italian journalist, writers, Classics scholar, and former speech writer for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The Ingenious Language was a bestseller in Italy and in many of the other dozen countries in which it has thus far been published. She is also the author of The Heroic Measure.