The theme of Echoes of Two Cultures is the transmission of two cultures through legend, how the ideals and moralities of ancient Greece and Rome have inspired and informed successive civilizations to the present day.
The legends of Cyrus the Great, from the early Greek world, and Lucretia, of early Rome, recount stories of transgression of rights; the first against a people, the second against an individual. The Greeks of the time of Cyrus, in the 5th century BC, believed that history taught them about an inexorable and divinely ordained law of ethics meant to punish the overweening transgressor. The citizens of Lucretia’s Rome were motivated by a solemn respect for the sanctity of women and of the home. In both legends, it is an individual woman’s courage and determination that brings the offender to his rightful doom, although, in the process of this retribution, both women suffer great loss.
Young shows how the telling of these great legends, which have gathered strength and beauty from each retelling, echo down through the centuries and throughout the Western World, influencing and enlightening societies and individuals.