Today’s concern to look where scholars never looked before and to illuminate what history forgot is transforming our image of the ancient world. Recent work on religion, art, philosophy, literature, and history has brought exciting changes to our view of classical antiquity. In a relatively brief compass and vigorous style these books explore topics and approaches that range across disciplinary boundaries and delineate what is new in current perspectives on classical civilization. G. W. Bowersock is General Editor of this series.
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.
Dionysos at Large
As the perpetual stranger Dionysos is the embodiment of strangeness. He is nowhere at home, and yet in another sense the world is his home. Detienne evokes the manic activity of Dionysos in myths that connect him with the shedding of blood, the pouring of wine, and the ejaculation of semen.
Unruly Eloquence: Lucian and the Comedy of Traditions
Bracht Branham expounds with sophistication and subtlety the essential ingredients of Lucian’s satirical humor. He makes frequent reference to its importance for comic theory and literary history.
The image of prophecies taking shape inside a virginal body provides the starting point for this revealing exploration of the concept of the female body in Greece before the impact of Christianity. In an analysis drawing upon Greek drama, myths, vase paintings, religious practices, the philosophers, and the Hippocratic medical writings, Sissa draws striking conclusions about the classical conceptions of sexual purity and of the female body as vehicle and vessel.
A Chronicle of the Last Pagans
A Chronicle of the Last Pagans is a history of the triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire as told from the perspective of the defeated: the adherents of the mysteries, cults, and philosophies that dominated Greco–Roman culture.
The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age
Ancient Greek culture is often described as a miracle, owing little to its neighbors. Walter Burkert argues against a distorted view, toward a more balanced picture. “Under the influence of the Semitic East—from writers, craftsmen, merchants, healers—Greek culture began its unique flowering, soon to assume cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean.”
Actors in the Audience: Theatricality and Doublespeak from Nero to Hadrian
This is a book about language, theatricality, and empire—about how the Roman emperor dramatized his rule and how his subordinates in turn staged their response. Informed by theories of dramaturgy, sociology, new historicism, and cultural criticism, this close reading of literary and historical texts gives us a new perspective on the politics of the Roman empire—and on the languages and representation of power.
Prophets and Emperors: Human and Divine Authority from Augustus to Theodosius
Hypatia of Alexandria
Hypatia—brilliant mathematician, eloquent Neoplatonist, and a woman renowned for her beauty—was brutally murdered by a mob of Christians in Alexandria in 415. She has been a legend ever since. In this engrossing book, Maria Dzielska searches behind the legend to bring us the real story of Hypatia’s life and death, and new insight into her colorful world.
The Craft of Zeus: Myths of Weaving and Fabric
In this dazzling commentary on Greek and Roman myth and society, weaving emerges as a metaphor rich with possibility. From rituals symbolizing the cohesion of society to the erotic and marital significance of weaving, this lively book defines the logic of one of the central concepts in Greek and Roman thought.
Magic in the Ancient World
Ancient Greeks and Romans often turned to magic to achieve personal goals. Magical rites were seen as a route for direct access to the gods, for material gains as well as for spiritual satisfaction. In this fascinating survey of magical beliefs and practices from the sixth century B.C.E. through late antiquity, Fritz Graf sheds new light on ancient religion.
Pompeii: Public and Private Life
Paul Zanker, a noted authority on Roman art and architecture, shows us the images that marked Pompeii’s development from country town to Roman imperial city. At home or in public, at work or at ease, Pompeians and their world come alive in Zanker’s masterly rendering.
Kinship Diplomacy in the Ancient World
From the Homeric age to Byzantium, peoples and nations sharing the same fictive ancestry appealed to their kinship when forging military alliances, settling disputes, or negotiating trade connections. In this intriguing study of the political uses of perceived kinship, Christopher P. Jones gives us an unparalleled view of mythic belief in action and addresses fundamental questions about communal and national identity.
The End of the Past: Ancient Rome and the Modern West
Western history is split into two discontinuous eras, Aldo Schiavone tells us: the ancient world was fundamentally different from the modern one. He locates the essential difference in a series of economic factors: a slave-based economy, relative lack of mechanization and technology, the dominance of agriculture over urban industry. Schiavone’s lively and provocative examination of the ancient world offers a stimulating opportunity to view modern society in light of the experience of antiquity.
The Invention of Jane Harrison
Jane Ellen Harrison (1850–1928) is the most famous female Classicist in history, the author of books that revolutionized our understanding of Greek culture and religion. This lively and innovative portrayal of a fascinating woman raises the question of who wins (and how) in the competition for academic fame.
Ruling the Later Roman Empire
In this highly original work, Kelly paints a remarkable picture of running a superstate. He portrays a complex system of government openly regulated by networks of personal influence and the payment of money. Focusing on the Roman Empire after Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, Kelly illuminates a period of increasingly centralized rule through an ever more extensive and intrusive bureaucracy.
Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam
Over the past century, exploration and serendipity have uncovered mosaic after mosaic in the Near East—maps, historical images and religious scenes that constitute a treasure of new testimony from antiquity. In their complex language, G. W. Bowersock finds historical evidence, illustrations of literary and mythological tradition, religious icons, and monuments to civic pride. Attending to one of the most evocative languages of the ages, his work reveals a fusion of cultures and religions that speaks to us across time.
Histoires Grecques: Snapshots from Antiquity
Sartre spans the grand narrative of Greek culture over a thousand years and a vast expanse of land and sea. Ranging from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean world, these excursions amount to a panoramic vision of one of the most important civilizations of all time.
New Heroes in Antiquity: From Achilles to Antinoos
Heroes and heroines in antiquity inhabited a space somewhere between gods and humans. In this detailed, yet brilliantly wide-ranging analysis, Christopher Jones starts from literary heroes such as Achilles and moves to the historical record of those exceptional men and women who were worshiped after death. This book, wholly new and beautifully written, rescues the hero from literary metaphor and vividly restores heroism to the reality of ancient life.
The slave and gladiator Spartacus has been the subject of myth-making in his own time and of movie-making in ours. Aldo Schiavone brings him squarely into the arena of serious history. Spartacus emerges here as the commander of an army, whose aim was to incite Italy to revolt against Rome and to strike at the very heart of the imperial system.
From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity
The transformation of the Roman world from polytheistic to Christian is one of the most sweeping ideological changes of premodern history. At the center was sex. Kyle Harper examines how Christianity changed the ethics of sexual behavior from shame to sin, and shows how the roots of modern sexuality are grounded in an ancient religious revolution.
Public Spectacles in Roman and Late Antique Palestine
Wishing to ingratiate himself with Rome, Herod the Great built theaters, amphitheaters, and hippodromes to bring pagan entertainments of all sorts to Palestine. Zeev Weiss explores how the indigenous Jewish and Christian populations responded, as both spectators and performers, to these cultural imports, which left a lasting imprint on the region.
Greek Models of Mind and Self
A. A. Long’s study of Greek notions of mind and human selfhood is anchored in questions of universal interest. What happens to us when we die? How is the mind or soul related to the body? Are we responsible for our own happiness? Can we achieve autonomy? Long shows that Greek thinkers’ modeling of the mind gave us metaphors that we still live by.