Proxeny and Polis by William Mack (OUP) £90
Known from ancient authors such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plato, and more than 2,500 inscriptions, proxeny (a form of public guest-friendship) is the best attested interstate institution of the ancient world. Proxeny and Polis offers a comprehensive re-examination of our evidence for this important Greek institution and uses it to examine the structure and dynamics of the interstate system of the Greek world, and the way in which they were transformed as a result of the establishment of the Roman Empire. Based on a detailed analysis of the function of the formulaic language of honorific decrees, this volume presents a new reconstruction of proxeny and explores the way in which interstate institutions shaped the behaviour of individuals and communities in the ancient world. It draws extensively on proxeny lists, which have not been systematically exploited before, to reconstruct the proxeny networks of Greek city-states. This material reveals the extraordinary density of formal interconnections which characterized the ancient Greek world before the age of Augustus and allows us to reconstruct the patterns of trade and political interactions which resulted in these institutional networks. The volume also traces the disappearance of both proxeny and the broader institutional system of which it was part. Drawing on nuanced analysis of quantitative trends in the epigraphic record, it argues that the Greek world underwent a profound reorientation by the time of the Roman Principate, which fundamentally altered how Greek cities viewed relations with each other.
Mastering the West. Rome and Carthage at War by Dexter Hoyos (OUP) £18.99
To say the Punic Wars (264-146 BC) were a turning point in world history is a vast understatement. This bloody and protracted conflict pitted two flourishing Mediterranean powers against one another, leaving one an unrivalled giant and the other a literal pile of ash. To later observers, a collision between these civilizations seemed inevitable and yet to the Romans and Carthaginians at the time hostilities first erupted seemingly out of nowhere, with what were expected to be inconsequential results. Mastering the West offers a thoroughly engrossing narrative of this century of battle in the western Mediterranean, while treating a full range of themes: the antagonists’ military, naval, economic, and demographic resources; the political structures of both republics; and the postwar impact of the conflicts on the participants and victims. The narrative also investigates questions of leadership and the contributions and mistakes of leaders like Hannibal, Fabius the Delayer, Scipio Africanus, Masinissa, and Scipio Aemilianus. Dexter Hoyos, a leading expert of the period, treats the two great powers evenly, without neglecting the important roles played by Syracuse, Macedon, and especially Numidia. Written with verve in a clear, accessible style, with a range of illustrations and newly-commissioned maps, Mastering the West will be the most reliable and engaging narrative of this pivotal era in ancient history.
The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss (£16.99)
Thanks to William Shakespeare, the death of Julius Caesar is the most famous assassination in history. But what actually happened on March 15, 44 BC is even more gripping than Shakespeare’s play. In this thrilling new book, Barry Strauss tells the real story. Shakespeare shows Caesar’s assassination to be an amateur and idealistic affair. The real killing, however, was a carefully planned paramilitary operation, a generals’ plot, put together by Caesar’s disaffected officers and designed with precision. There were even gladiators on hand to protect the assassins from vengeance by Caesar’s friends. Brutus and Cassius were indeed key players, as Shakespeare has it, but they had the help of a third man-Decimus. He was the mole in Caesar’s entourage, one of Caesar’s leading generals, and a lifelong friend. It was he, not Brutus, who truly betrayed Caesar. Caesar’s assassins saw him as a military dictator who wanted to be king. He threatened a permanent change in the Roman way of life and in the power of senators. The assassins rallied support among the common people, but they underestimated Caesar’s soldiers, who flooded Rome. The assassins were vanquished; their beloved Republic became the Roman Empire. An original, fresh perspective on an event that seems well known, Barry Strauss’s book sheds new light on this fascinating, pivotal moment in world history.
Classical Traditions in Science Fiction (OUP) £18.99 (RRP £22.99)
For all its concern with change in the present and future, science fiction is deeply rooted in the past and, surprisingly, engages especially deeply with the ancient world. Indeed, both as an area in which the meaning of “classics” is actively transformed and as an open-ended set of texts whose own ‘classic’ status is a matter of ongoing debate, science fiction reveals much about the roles played by ancient classics in modern times. Classical Traditions in Science Fiction is the first collection dedicated to the rich study of science fiction’s classical heritage, offering a much-needed mapping of its cultural and intellectual terrain. This volume discusses a wide variety of representative examples from both classical antiquity and the past four hundred years of science fiction, beginning with science fiction’s “rosy-fingered dawn” and moving toward the other-worldly literature of the present day. As it makes its way through the eras of science fiction, Classical Traditions in Science Fiction exposes the many levels on which science fiction engages the ideas of the ancient world, from minute matters of language and structure to the larger thematic and philosophical concerns.
Seneca. A life by Emily Wilson £20 (RRP £25)
This book traces the eventful life of Seneca, the Roman philosopher, dramatist, essayist and rhetorician of the first century CE, who came from Spain to Rome, spent his youth in Egypt, was exiled to Corsica under Claudius but recalled after eight years, and rose to dizzying heights of wealth, power and social influence under Nero, before falling from favour and being forced to kill himself. The book analyzes the relationship of Seneca’s life story to his literary self-fashioning, and the tensions between the external worlds of politics, consumerism, and social success, with the Stoic ideals of asceticism, virtue and self-control.
Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art Now in stock £25 (RRP £30)
The accompanying title to the major Museum exhibition, Defining Beauty, the body in ancient Greek art , 36th March – 5 July 2015.
This title features a visually stunning and thought-provoking exploration of the human condition seen through ancient Greek eyes, with a particular focus on the human form.
In a series of lively introductory chapters, written by a selection of academics, historians and artists, it is revealed how the Greeks themselves viewed the sculpture (which was vividly enhanced with colour), and how it was regarded and treated in later pagan antiquity. The revival of the Greek body in the modern era is also discussed, including the shock of the new effect of the arrival of the Parthenon sculptures in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The Eternal Letter (MIT) £37.95
The fiftieth anniversary of Helvetica, the most famous of all sans serif typefaces, was celebrated with an excitement unusual in the staid world of typography and culminated in the release of the first movie ever made starring a typeface. Yet Helvetica’s fifty-year milestone pales in comparison with the two thousandth anniversary in 2014 of Trajan’s Column and its famous inscription — the preeminent illustration of the classical Roman capital letter. For, despite the modern ascendance of the sans serif, serif typefaces, most notably Times Roman, still dominate printed matter and retain a strong presence in screen-based communication. The Eternal Letter is a lavishly illustrated examination of the enduring influence of, and many variations on, the classical Roman capital letter. The Eternal Letter offers a series of essays by some of the most highly regarded practitioners in the fields of typography, lettering, and stone carving. They discuss the subtleties of the classical Roman capital letter itself, different iterations of it over the years, and the work of famous typographers and craftsmen. The essays cover such topics as efforts to calculate a geometric formulation of the Trajan letters; the recalculation of their proportions by early typefounders; the development and astonishing popularity of Adobe Trajan; type and letter designs by Father Edward M. Catich, Frederic W. Goudy, Eric Gill, Jan van Krimpen, Hermann Zapf, Matthew Carter, and others; the influence of Trajan in Russia; and three generations of lettercarvers at the John Stevens Shop in Newport, Rhode Island. Essays about modern typefaces — including Matinia, Senatus, and Penumbra — are contributed by the designers of these typefaces. Contributors John and Nicholas Benson, Frank E. Blokland, Matthew Carter, Ewan Clayton, Lance Hidy, Jost Hochuli, Jonathan Hoefler, Richard Kindersley, Scott-Martin Kosofsky, Gerry Leonidas, Martin Majoor, Steve Matteson, Gregory MacNaughton, James Mosley, Tom Perkins, Yves Peters, Ryan L. Roth, Werner Schneider, Paul Shaw, Julian Waters, Maxim Zhukov