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The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

ISBN: 9780691140919 - The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece

The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece by Josiah Ober (Princeton UP) £24.95

Lord Byron described Greece as great, fallen, and immortal, a characterization more apt than he knew. Through most of its long history, Greece was poor. But in the classical era, Greece was densely populated and highly urbanized. Many surprisingly healthy Greeks lived in remarkably big houses and worked for high wages at specialized occupations. Middle-class spending drove sustained economic growth and classical wealth produced a stunning cultural efflorescence lasting hundreds of years. Why did Greece reach such heights in the classical period-and why only then? And how, after “the Greek miracle” had endured for centuries, did the Macedonians defeat the Greeks, seemingly bringing an end to their glory? Drawing on a massive body of newly available data and employing novel approaches to evidence, Josiah Ober offers a major new history of classical Greece and an unprecedented account of its rise and fall. Ober argues that Greece’s rise was no miracle but rather the result of political breakthroughs and economic development. The extraordinary emergence of citizen-centered city-states transformed Greece into a society that defeated the mighty Persian Empire. Yet Philip and Alexander of Macedon were able to beat the Greeks in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE, a victory made possible by the Macedonians’ appropriation of Greek innovations. After Alexander’s death, battle-hardened warlords fought ruthlessly over the remnants of his empire. But Greek cities remained populous and wealthy, their economy and culture surviving to be passed on to the Romans-and to us. A compelling narrative filled with uncanny modern parallels, this is a book for anyone interested in how great civilizations are born and die. This book is based on evidence available on a new interactive website. To learn more, please visit: http://polis.stanford.edu/.

The Greeks in Asia

ISBN: 9780500252130 - The Greeks in Asia

The Greeks in Asia by John Boardman £27 (£5 off RRP £32)

This book, by Britains most distinguished historian of ancient Greek art, recounts the influence of Greek communities and their culture through Central Asia, India and Western China, from the Bronze Age through to the rise of Islam. Boardman examines a wealth of art and artifacts as well as literary sources to reveal the remarkable influence of Greek culture upon peoples Anatolians, Levantines, Persians, Asiatics, Indians, Chinese whose settled civilizations were far older, with their own strong traditions in life, government and the arts. The Greeks were not empire-builders. They did not seek to conquer or rule. However, they were highly literate and adept at trade; they spread a monetary economy through Eurasia; their religion was easily adapted to that of others; their art developed a form of narrative that was to be dominant for centuries to come; and their poets and philosophers were widely respected outside their homeland. As Boardman notes, They are an odd phenomenon in world history. Through their travels they came to leave a very distinctive imprint on the lives and arts of many distant peoples, and over centuries, some to the present day’.

Laughing Awry

ISBN: 9780198729303 - Laughing Awry

Laughing Awry. Plautus and Tragicomedy (OUP) £60

Laughing Awry offers a comprehensive overview of key themes in the interpretation of the plays of Plautus, and explores the connections between deception, desire, slavery, genre, and audience. In doing so, it offers an account of the mechanisms of Plautus’ humour and the uncomfortable origins of laughter, revealing how his dramas do not just play to but also work on the audience. The volume examines the whole corpus of Plautine plays, providing longer accounts of selected dramas and choice scenes. An emphasis on methodological and theoretical questions is maintained throughout, and particular attention is paid to the psychic life of humour and its relationship to questions of social power. Chapters discuss, among other topics, the problem of writing about humour, Plautus’ reception by subsequent Roman authors, the plays’ embedded social theory, the intersection of circuits of desire, laughter as a scandalous surfeit, and the sublime perversity of laughter. The volume asks what we are laughing at, why we laugh, and what this laughter means.

The Trial of Socrates

ISBN: 9781784970956 - The Trial of Socrates

The Trial of Socrates by I. F. Stone £16.00 (£4 off RRP £20.00)

The Athens of Socrates’s time has gone down in history as the very place where democracy and freedom of speech were born. Yet this city put Socrates, its most famous philosopher, to death. Presumably this was because it citizens did not like what he was teaching. Yet he had been teaching there all his life, unmolested. Why did they wait until he was 70, and had only a few years to live, before executing him? In unraveling the long-hidden issues of the most famous free speech case of all time, noted author I.F. Stone ranges far and wide over both Roman and Greek history to present an engaging and rewarding introduction to classical antiquity and its relevance to society today.

Platonic Conversations

ISBN: 9780198732884 - Platonic Conversations

Platonic Conversations by Mary Margaret McCabe (OUP) £50

M. M. McCabe presents a selection of her essays which explore the ways in which the Platonic method of conversation may inform how we understand both the Platonic dialogues and the work of his predecessors and his successors. The centrality of conversation to philosophical method is taken here to account both for how we should read the ancients and for the connections between argument, knowledge, and virtue in the texts in question. The book argues that we should attend, consequently, to the reflective dimension of reading and thought; and that this reflection explains both how we should think about the conditions for perception and knowledge, and how those conditions, in turn, inform the theories of value of both Plato and Aristotle.

Strolling Through Rome

ISBN: 9781780763514 - Strolling Through Rome

Strolling Through Rome by Mario Erasmo £14.99

Rome, the Eternal City – birthplace of western civilisation and soul of the ancient world – has a history that stretches back two thousand five hundred years. It is also one of the most-visited places in the world, but where does one begin to delve into two millennia of history, culture, art and architecture, whilst also navigating the vibrant modern city? Mario Erasmo here guides the traveller through Rome’s many layers of history, exploring the streets, museums, piazze, ruins and parks of this ‘city of the soul’. Punctuated with anecdote, myth and legend, these unique walks often retrace the very steps taken by ancient Romans, early Christians, medieval pilgrims, Renaissance artists and aristocrats on the Grand Tour. Here is a rich cultural history of Rome that brings its epic past alive, illuminating the extraordinary sights and fascinating secrets of one of Europe’s most beguiling cities.

The Gods Rich in Praise

ISBN: 9780198723363 - The Gods Rich in Praise

The Gods Rich in Praise (OUP) £60 by Christopher Metcalf

Many scholars today believe that early Greek literature, as represented by the great poems of Homer and Hesiod, was to some extent inspired by texts from the neighbouring civilizations of the ancient Near East, especially Mesopotamia. It is true that, in the case of religious poetry, early Greek poets sang about their gods in ways that resemble those of Sumerian or Akkadian hymns from Mesopotamia, but does this mean that the latter influenced the former, and if so, how? This volume is the first to attempt an answer to these questions by undertaking a detailed study of the ancient texts in their original languages, from Sumerian poetry in the 20th century BC to Greek sources from the times of Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, and Aeschylus. The Gods Rich in Praise presents the core groups of sources from the ancient Near East, describing the main features of style and content of Sumerian and Akkadian religious poetry, and showing how certain compositions were translated and adapted beyond Mesopotamia. It proceeds by comparing selected elements of form and content: hymnic openings, negative predication, the birth of Aphrodite in the Theogony of Hesiod, and the origins and development of a phrase in Hittite prayers and the Iliad of Homer. The volume concludes that, in terms of form and style, early Greek religious poetry was probably not indebted to ancient Near Eastern models, but also argues that such influence may nevertheless be perceived in certain closely defined instances, particularly where supplementary evidence from other ancient sources is available, and where the extant sources permit a reconstruction of the process of translation and adaptation.

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