The Classical World (1970) is representative of Derrick Greaves's interest in antiquity and in classical line and form. This is seen in other works by Greaves such as, Good news for Archaeologists (1966), Sally Butler in a Sarong (1995) and Recamier (Still Life with Picture) (2002).
In this particular work the strong horizontal and vertical emphasis within the painting, and the concise outlined forms, seem to allude to the architectural and sculptural characteristics of antiquity. The colours are a naturalistic portrayal of stone, superimposed on a blue background of sky as seen in the remaining examples of classical buildings. In fact this reduction to simple and concise colour and form portrays the most basic and fundamental aspects perceived when considering antiquity and the classical world. Antiquity is reduced to an almost formulaic yet individually striking aesthetic representation.