Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity
An article recently published by Robert Chenault in the Journal of Roman Studies 102 (November 2012), 102-132.
By Nathanael J. Andrade (2009 U-M PhD Graduate)
Published by Cambridge University Press (July 2013)
By engaging with recent developments in the study of empires, this book examines how inhabitants of Roman imperial Syria reinvented expressions and experiences of Greek, Roman and Syrian identification. It demonstrates how the organization of Greek communities and a peer polity network extending citizenship to ethnic Syrians generated new semiotic frameworks for the performance of Greekness and Syrianness. Within these, Syria's inhabitants reoriented and interwove idioms of diverse cultural origins, including those from the Near East, to express Greek, Roman and Syrian identifications in innovative and complex ways. While exploring a vast array of written and material sources, the book thus posits that Greekness and Syrianness were constantly shifting and transforming categories, and it critiques many assumptions that govern how scholars of antiquity often conceive of Roman imperial Greek identity, ethnicity and culture in the Roman Near East, and processes of 'hybridity' or similar concepts.
By Sara Forsdyke
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.
By David Potter
Oxford University Press (2012)
This year Christians worldwide will celebrate the 1700th anniversary of Constantine's conversion and victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. No Roman emperor had a greater impact on the modern world than did Constantine. The reason is not simply that he converted to Christianity but that he did so in a way that brought his subjects along after him. Indeed, this major new biography argues that Constantine's conversion is but one feature of a unique administrative style that enabled him to take control of an empire beset by internal rebellions and external threats by Persians and Goths. The vast record of Constantine's administration reveals a government careful in its exercise of power but capable of ruthless, even savage actions. Constantine executed (or drove to suicide) his father-in-law, two brothers-in-law, his eldest son, and his once beloved wife. An unparalleled general throughout his life, even on his deathbed he was planning a major assault on the Sassanian Empire in Persia. Alongside the visionary who believed that his success came from the direct intervention of his God resided an aggressive warrior, a sometimes cruel partner, and an immensely shrewd ruler. These characteristics combined together in a long and remarkable career, which restored the Roman Empire to its former glory.
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.