Slaves Tell Tales: And Other Episodes in the Politics of Popular Culture in Ancient Greece
Published by Princeton University Press (July 12, 2012)
Most studies of ancient Greek politics focus on formal institutions such as the political assembly and the law courts, and overlook the role that informal social practices played in the regulation of the political order. Sara Forsdyke argues, by contrast, that various forms of popular culture in ancient Greece--including festival revelry, oral storytelling, and popular forms of justice--were a vital medium for political expression and played an important role in the negotiation of relations between elites and masses, as well as masters and slaves, in the Greek city-states. Although these forms of social life are only poorly attested in the sources, Forsdyke suggests that Greek literature reveals traces of popular culture that can be further illuminated by comparison with later historical periods. By looking beyond institutional contexts, moreover, Forsdyke recovers the ways that groups that were excluded from the formal political sphere--especially women and slaves--participated in the process by which society was ordered.
Forsdyke begins each chapter with an apparently marginal incident in Greek history--the worship of a dead slave by masters on Chios, the naming of Sicyon's civic divisions after lowly animals such as pigs and asses, and the riding of an adulteress on a donkey through the streets of Cyme--and shows how these episodes demonstrate the significance of informal social practices and discourses in the regulation and reproduction of the social order. The result is an original, fascinating, and enlightening new perspective on politics and popular culture in ancient Greece.
Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism
By Prof. Ian Moyer
Published by Cambridge University Press July, 2011
In a series of studies, Ian Moyer explores the ancient history and modern historiography of relations between Egypt and Greece from the fifth century BCE to the early Roman empire. Beginning with Herodotus, he analyzes key encounters between Greeks and Egyptian priests, the bearers of Egypt's ancient traditions. Four moments unfold as rich micro-histories of cross-cultural interaction: Herodotus' interviews with priests at Thebes; Manetho's composition of an Egyptian history in Greek; the struggles of Egyptian priests on Delos; and a Greek physician's quest for magic in Egypt. In writing these histories, the author moves beyond Orientalizing representations of the Other and colonial metanarratives of the civilizing process to reveal interactions between Greeks and Egyptians as transactional processes in which the traditions, discourses and pragmatic interests of both sides shaped the outcome. The result is a dialogical history of cultural and intellectual exchanges between the great civilizations of Greece and Egypt.
The Victor's Crown: Greek and Roman Sport from Homer to Byzantium
By Prof. David Potter
Published by Quercus Publishing Plc, February, 2011
What is Sport and why do we love it? These two questions drive David Potter's analysis of the western tradition of competitive athletics from eighth century BC to the sixth century AD. The story of ancient sport offers a paradigm for the tale of sport in our own time. Incorporating the latest research, The Victor's Crown opens with an analysis of the way competitive sport emerged in Greece during the eighth century BC, and then how the great festival cycle of Classical Greece came into being during the sixth century BC. Special attention is paid to the experience of spectators and athletes, especially in the violent sports of boxing, wrestling and pancration. We meet the great athletes of the past and discover what it was that made them so great. The rise of the Roman Empire transformed the sporting world by popularizing new forms of entertainment (chiefly a specialized form of chariot racing, gladiatorial combat and beast hunts). Potter shows us what it was like to be a fan and a competitor, and how to fight like a gladiator. The Victor's Crown looks at the physiology of conditioning, ancient training techniques and the role of sport in education. The Roman government promoted and organized sport as a central feature of the Roman Empire, as sports provided common cultural currency to the diverse inhabitants of this vast empire. The Victor's Crown is not just a history of ancient sport, but also an examination of role sport has played throughout history.