This volume is a unique, multi-authored social history of war from the third millennium B.C.E. to the tenth century C.E. in the Mediterranean, the Near East, and Europe (Egypt, Achaemenid Persia, Greece, the Hellenistic World, the Roman Republic and Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the early Islamic World, and early Medieval Europe), with parallel studies of Mesoamerica (the Maya and Aztecs) and East Asia (ancient China, medieval Japan). The product of a colloquium at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, this volume offers a broadly based, comparative examination of war and military organization in their complex interactions with social, economic, and political structures as well as cultural practices.
Thucydides and his contemporaries knew war from bitter experience. Peace to them was an illusion, war the true constant… War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds shows how and why Thucydides’s vision prevailed throughout pre-industrial times in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Because of the omnipresence of war or its specter within ancient Greek—and Roman—culture, editors Kurt Raaflaub and Nathan Rosenstein recognize the real need to explore in theoretical terms how war (including military technology and organization) affected ancient society (including economic and political systems) and vice versa.
The editors have sought to produce a book about the social history of war in the pre-industrial age. They have encouraged their contributors to write not about army organization, battles, tactics, and so on, but about the social and political context of war, and about the interrelationship between war and the institutional structures of the various states which are surveyed. The result…is a volume of broad scope with much potential for comparison and cross-fertilization. It certainly comes across as a work of solid scholarship and interesting insights which should appeal to a wide audience.
- 496 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/8 inches
- Center for Hellenic Studies
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