Hesiod’s Works and Days. How to Teach Self-Sufficiency (OUP) £55 by Lilah Grace Canevaro
Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric by James Dow (OUP) £40
For Aristotle, arousing the passions of others can amount to giving them proper grounds for conviction. On that basis a skill in doing so can be something valuable, an appropriate constituent of the kind of expertise in rhetoric that deserves to be cultivated and given expression in a well-organised state. Such are Jamie Dow’s principal claims in Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. He attributes to Aristotle a normative view of rhetoric and its role in the state, and ascribes to him a particular view of the kinds of cognitions involved in the passions. In the first sustained treatment of these issues, and the first major monograph on Aristotle’s Rhetoric in twenty years, Dow argues that Aristotle held distinctive and philosophically interesting views of both rhetoric and the nature of the passions. In Aristotle’s view, he argues, rhetoric is exercised solely in the provision of proper grounds for conviction (pisteis). This is rhetoric’s valuable contribution to the proper functioning of the state. Dow explores, through careful examination of the text of the Rhetoric, what normative standards must be met for something to qualify in Aristotle’s view as ‘proper grounds for conviction’, and how he supposed these standards could be met by each of his trio of ‘technical proofs’ (entechnoi pisteis)-those using reason, character and emotion. In the case of the passions, Dow suggests, meeting these standards is a matter of arousing passions that constitute the reasonable acceptance of premises in arguments supporting the speaker’s conclusion. Dow then seeks to show that Aristotle’s view of the passions is compatible with this role in rhetorical expertise. This involves taking a stand on a number of controversial issues in Aristotle studies. In Passions and Persuasion, Dow rejects the view that Aristotle’s Rhetoric expresses inconsistent views on emotion-arousal. Aristotle’s treatment of the passions in the Rhetoric is, he argues, best understood as expressing a substantive theory of the passions as pleasures and pains. This is supported by a new representationalist reading of Aristotle’s account of pleasure (and pain) in Rhetoric 1. Dow also defends a distinctive understanding of how Aristotle understood the contribution of phantasia (‘appearance’) to the cognitive component of the passions. On this interpretation, Aristotelian passions must involve the subject’s affirming things to be the way that they are represented. Thus understood, the passions of an emotionally-engaged audience can constitute a part of their reasonable acceptance of a speaker’s argument.
Introducing the Ancient Greeks by Edith Hall £16 (£4 off RRP £20)
Who were the ancient Greeks? They gave us democracy, philosophy, poetry, rational science, the joke. But what was it that enabled them to achieve so much? The ancient Greeks were a geographically disparate people whose civilization lasted over twenty centuries – and that made us who we are today. And here Edith Hall gives us a revelatory way of viewing this scattered people, identifying ten unique personality traits that she shows to be unique and central to the widespread ancient Greeks. Hall introduces a people who are inquisitive, articulate and open-minded but also rebellious, individualistic, competitive and hedonistic. They prize excellence above all things but love to laugh. And, central to their identity, they are seafarers whose relationship with the sea underpins every aspect of their society. Expertly researched and elegantly told, this indispensable introduction unveils a civilization of incomparable richness and a people of astounding complexity.
Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace by Kate Nichols (OUP) £70
The marble halls of the British Museum might seem the natural habitat for classical sculpture, but in the nineteenth century its sombre displays were far from being the only place that people encountered antiquities. From 1854, a rival collection of classical sculpture, comprising plaster casts from major European museums and scaled down architectural features, was on show in the South London suburb of Sydenham, in the Crystal Palace which had housed the Great Exhibition of 1851. By the late 1850s, two million visitors were passing through the glass doors of the Sydenham Crystal Palace each year, more than twice as many as recorded at the British Museum. Many more people, and from a greater variety of social strata, saw the painted cast of the Parthenon frieze in Sydenham than the original in Bloomsbury. Utilizing an extensive variety of archival material, including diaries, scrapbooks and photographs, Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace evokes visitor experiences at Sydenham, and examines the discussion that arose around the presentation of classical plaster casts to a mass audience. It uncovers the social, political, and aesthetic role of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in modern Britain, assessing how classical art figured in debates over design reform, taste, beauty and morality, class and gender, and race and imperialism.
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.