ROMAN BRITAIN: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Peter Salway

OUP (2nd edn, 2015) p/b 122pp £7.99 (ISBN 9780198712169)

This book is a concise, clear and readable history of Roman Britain across four centuries. It is ideal for the general reader, including one who comes to the subject with no previous knowledge.

The book is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 (‘The beginnings of British history’) covers the Iron Age and Caesar’s invasions. Chapter 2 (‘The Roman conquest’) takes the reader from Claudius’ invasion in AD 43 through to the late third century. This is the longest chapter. It includes Boudicca’s revolt; the subsequent reconstruction of the province; the Hadrianic revival; the construction of the Antonine Wall followed by the retreat from Scotland; the reign of Severus and the division of Britain into separate provinces by his successors; the curious saga of the Gallic Empire. The chapter also covers social issues, such as urban development, life…

View original 378 more words

LATE SOPHOCLES: THE HERO’S EVOLUTION IN ELECTRA, PHILOCTETES, AND OEDIPUS AT COLONUS

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Thomas Van Nortwick
Michigan (2015) h/b 160pp £56.95 (ISBN 9780472119561)

Written in Sophocles’ ninth decade (V.N. places Electra close to 410 BC), Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus are far from being the mellow reflections of old age. Instead, they are contentious and innovative, redefining the rules of Greek tragedy, reimagining the role of the tragic hero and even re-evaluating the place of drama within Athenian society.

This short, clear and elegantly-written study considers how ‘the Sophoclean tragic hero—lonely, defiant, and self-destructive—undergoes a crucial transformation in the last three plays’. Assuming little technical knowledge, V.N. devotes a chapter to each play, outlining how the tragedy unfolds, developing cogent arguments illustrated with quotations in his own English translations (where appropriate including the original Greek, transliterated and in parentheses), and always taking care to set the drama firmly within the context of late-5th C BC society and beliefs.

Thus…

View original 269 more words

OVID: THE OFFENSE OF LOVE Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris, and Tristia 2

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Julia Dyson Hejduk

Wisconsin (2014) p/b 268pp £15.95 (ISBN 9780299302047)

H.’s translation with commentary, which is the first to include both the cause of Ovid’s ‘offence’ and his ‘defence’ of his writings, is aimed at readers who have no classical knowledge. As a result, a detailed introduction is included, covering aspects such as metre, scansion and literature in the ancient world. It also includes an exploration of Ovid’s use of metaphor, e.g. the attention a lover must pay to their appearance as a metaphor for the attention an author must pay to their work of art; and of analogy, e.g. comparing the pursuit of love to chariot-racing or warfare. A list of examples of Ovid’s use of the art of love to resemble that of war, agriculture, sailing, hunting, sports, religion etc. is included.

The reasons behind Ovid’s exile are explored along with the possible role of Tiberius in…

View original 90 more words

THE LOST SECOND BOOK OF ARISTOTLE’S POETICS

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Walter Watson

Chicago (2015) p/b 304pp £29 (ISBN 9780226875088)

This very engaging work sets out to save a whole treasure chest of priceless gems from an eternity in scholarly limbo, the chest being the lost second book of Aristotle’s Poetics. For some time now scholars have argued that a tenth century manuscript known as Tractatus Coislinianus summarizes this lost book, but up to now they have failed to establish the point conclusively. W. now hopes to succeed where philology on its own had not by making a philosophical case. His aim is to convince people that they will only fully appreciate the Poetics by accepting all of the Tractatus material as genuine Aristotle rather than, as one sceptic put it, no small amount of silly and extraneous material jumbled together with what is truly Aristotelian.

There is a deliberate intention to engage the general reader as much as…

View original 244 more words

LATIN: A LINGUISTIC INTRODUCTION

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

by Renato Oniga, ed. and trans. by Norma Schifano

OUP (2014) 345pp £24.99 (ISBN 9780198702863)

How to bring together Chomsky and Latin? The concept of this book (a translation, incorporating minor changes, by Norma Schifano of Renato Oniga’s Il Latino: Breve introduzione linguistica [Milano: FrancoAngeli, 2004]) is an ambitious and laudable one: to bring modern linguistic theory to bear on Latin, and to do so in a way that is accessible to students brought up on traditional grammars and unfamiliar with twentieth- and twenty-first-century approaches to linguistic analysis, especially the generative tradition of which Chomsky has been the most notable proponent.

In three sections, this book considers the phonology (chapters 2 to 5), morphology (chapters 6 to 16, covering both inflection and derivation), and syntax of Latin (chapters 17 to 28), intentionally taking its order of treatment and scope from that of traditional grammars but describing them by means of modern…

View original 557 more words

VIRTUE AND REASON IN PLATO AND ARISTOTLE

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By A.W. Price

OUP (2015) p/b 356pp £22.50 ISBN 9780198709350

This is a book which focuses almost entirely on Plato and Aristotle, and covers a wide range of material from the two philosophers, seeking to point the similarities and the differences, as well as including appraisals of a number of modern commentators. P. offers a balanced and non-partisan account. He adduces an impressive array of textual material, offering clear analyses. His discussion is well structured, so that by the end the reader has a clear picture of this complex and multilayered subject.

The book is divided into four sections, in each of which Plato’s thoughts are presented first, followed by those of Aristotle. The sections deal with (A) eudaimonia (happiness); (B) virtue; (C) phronêsis (practical reasoning); and (D) acrasia (weakness). There is a full bibliography, an index locorum, an index nominum and a general subject index.

Section A demonstrates…

View original 763 more words

ODES : HORACE

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

translated by David R. Slavitt.

Wisconsin (2014) p/b 184pp £10.50 (ISBN 978029854 8)

In his introduction to The Penguin Book of Modern Verse Translation, George Steiner refers to Borges’ story of a man toiling his life away translating Don Quixote into the original Spanish. We all know that complete translation is an impossibility, and that a mode of expression as unique as a poem just adds to the difficulties. This is why the reader needs to know what the translator is trying to achieve with his or her approximation.

Slavitt has no doubt about his job, and reveals in his brief notes the additions, subtractions and changes he made ‘to get to what I believe Horace wrote’: so no historical and literary notes to align the English with the Latin. What readers get are the poems on the page, and no more, to render an Horatian experience. He hopes…

View original 403 more words

INTRODUCING GREEK PHILOSOPHY

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By M.R. Wright

Acumen Press (2009) p/b 244pp £19.99 (ISBN 9781844651832)

(Online publication [2013] ISBN: 9781844654390)

This volume offers a ‘concise and accessible introduction to ancient Greek philosophy…aimed at beginning students of classical studies and philosophy who wish to find their bearings in what can seem a complex maze of names and schools’. An introductory chapter , ‘Mapping the territory’, sets the time frame chronologically, from the sixth to the first centuries BCE, and outlines the social and political background against which philosophical thinking emerged, with brief biographies of significant thinkers. Thereafter W. chooses to abandon a chronological in favour of a thematic approach. Chapter 2, ‘Language, logic and literary form’ has sections on prose as opposed to poetry as a vehicle for philosophy; dialectic and dialogue (with some discussion of the so-called Socratic question); eristic; rhetoric; Platonic myth; and philosophy as expounded in Latin. The remaining chapters deal…

View original 315 more words

THE VIENNA EPIGRAMS PAPYRUS: CORPUS PAPYRORUM RAINERI Band XXXIII

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

Edited by P.J. Parsons, H. Maehler, F. Maltomini

De Gruyter (2015) h/b 153pp (incl. 7 plates) £109.95 (ISBN 9783110354522)

For those with a special interest in the tradition of Greek epigram or in the continuing and important developments in papyrology, this is a major new contribution to our knowledge. The material covered in the fragmentary papyrus—twenty or more pieces originally torn up to construct a mummy-mask—consists of just the first lines of 226 epigrams written in Greek during the Hellenistic period (probable date the late third century BC). Only one of the lines can be attributed with any confidence to a named poet—Asclepiades. All three editors acknowledge their debt to the multispectral imagining team of Brigham Young University, which has greatly aided the decipherment of the original fragments; colour scans of these will eventually be accessible on the website of Österreichische Nationalbibliotek (ÖNB), which owns the papyrus.

P.’s Introduction covers…

View original 372 more words

ATHENS TRANSFORMED, 404-262 BC: From Popular Sovereignty to the Dominion of Wealth

Originally posted on Classics for All Reviews:

By Phillip E. Harding

Routledge (2015) h/b 186pp £85 (ISBN 9780415973925)

H. has no time for those who argue that Athens’ democratic Assembly was an irrational rabble, or that it needed slaves in order to function as a democracy in the first place. His thesis is that, from the invention of democracy in 508 BC to its demise in 322 BC at the hands of the northern power Macedon, the poor in Athens, through the Assembly, enjoyed ‘unprecedented dominance in both domestic and foreign politics’. Rather like Ober’s analysis in his Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (reviewed elsewhere on this site), he finds much to admire in the dynamism generated by people-power. But from 322 BC, the world of Athens was changed for ever: people-power was at an end, and the rich ruled the roost.

One pedantic quibble: H.’s aim is to ‘try’ to adhere to the Greek spelling…

View original 575 more words