Cover: Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience, from Harvard University PressCover: Blacks in Antiquity in PAPERBACK

Blacks in Antiquity

Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience

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$38.00 • £33.95 • €34.95

ISBN 9780674076266

Publication Date: 01/01/1970


390 pages

120 halftones, 1 table

Belknap Press


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This book, by reason of its scrupulous, balanced scholarship and quietly reasoned argument, will be of lasting value not only to scholars but to anyone interested in questions of race and historical and social perceptions of race.—Michael Thelwell, Boston Globe

Snowden has amassed an impressive amount of evidence proving that ‘Ethiopians’ were not regarded mainly as slaves, but were also widely known as warriors, diplomats, athletes, and performers.—Lorna Hahn, Saturday Review

One very effective way to expose the irrational in present-day attitudes is to recall the realities of the past. This is precisely what Frank Snowden has done in this book, a thoroughgoing, scholarly and beautifully illustrated study of the recorded contacts in the ancient world between the Greeks and Romans and that mysterious race of dark-skinned Africans whom they called the Ethiopians… The author is to be congratulated on having made manageable such a mass of pertinent information within the covers of one compact, extremely readable and timely book.—Alan M. G. Little, Washington Star

The novelty of this book, the fruit of a lifetime’s labor of love by a distinguished black classicist, lies in the exhaustive, impeccable scholarship with which it documents and illustrates its conclusion, that there is no evidence for racism or color prejudice in Greco-Roman antiquity.—Paul MacKendrick, American Journal of Philology

Professor Snowden has assembled an impressive amount of evidence of contacts which Greeks and Romans had with black Africans throughout the classical period; this evidence comes from archeological and literary sources, and in considering it, he has also combed much modern scholarship on individual bits of evidence. The result is a handbook which should prove useful to anyone who is at all interested in social or cultural attitudes in antiquity.Classical Philology

Solid, important reading, and a landmark in the writing of history. [Snowden] skips secondary sources for the ancient evidence: writings, coins, epigraphs, papyri, pottery, etc. With data gleaned from these, he draws conclusions about the Ethiopian’s (black’s) place in the Greek, Roman, and early Christian eras, the white man’s attitude toward him. What emerges from Snowden’s painstakingly thorough study is that it was not a confrontation—that skin color was no obstacle to harmony in the ancient world.Publishers Weekly

Awards & Accolades

  • Frank M. Snowden, Jr., Is a 2003 National Humanities Medal Winner

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