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Vol. 29 (1996) through current issue
This distinguished journal is known for publishing original literary and cultural studies of the ancient world that combine contemporary theoretical perspectives with traditional approaches to literary and material evidence. Arethusa introduced the world of classics to the application of new methods in literary theory, and continues to be an exciting venue for innovative and stimulating approaches.
Discussion in Twelfth-Century Byzantium
The author’s argument starts from a kind of literature that has not so far seemed important enough to be included in this new wave of publications on the literary and intellectual culture of the day. The study contends that Byzantium deserves its place in the broader development of Europe, even as it also reaches out to the vast territories of Anatolia and the Caucasus, and to the eastern Mediterranean. The long twelfth century from the seizure of the throne by Alexius I Comnenus in 1081 to the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 is a period recognized as one of the most brilliant in Byzantine history in cultural terms, especially in terms of its literary production. The study focuses on the prose dialogues in Greek from this period—of very varying kinds—and on what they can tell us about the society and culture of the era when western Europe was itself developing a new culture of schools, universities, and scholars. Yet it was also one in which Byzantium felt the fateful impact of the Crusades, and which ended with the momentous sack of Constantinople in 1204. Despite revisionist attempts to play down the extent of this disaster, it was a blow from which arguably the Byzantines never fully recovered.
Scent and Seduction in Rabbinic Life and Literature
In The Aroma of Righteousness, Deborah Green explores images of perfume and incense in late Roman and early Byzantine Jewish literature. Using literary methods to illuminate the rabbinic literature, Green demonstrates the ways in which the rabbis’ reading of biblical texts and their intimate experience with aromatics build and deepen their interpretations. The study uncovers the cultural associations that are evoked by perfume and incense in both the Hebrew Bible and midrashic texts and seeks to understand the cultural, theological, and experiential motivations and impulses that lie behind these interpretations. Green accomplishes this by examining the relationship between the textual traditions of the Hebrew Bible and Midrash, the surviving evidence from the material culture of Palestine in the late Roman and early Byzantine periods, and cultural evidence as described by the rabbis and other Roman authors.
Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture
Elite Romans periodically chose to limit or destroy the memory of a leading citizen who was deemed an unworthy member of the community. Sanctions against memory could lead to the removal or mutilation of portraits and public inscriptions. Harriet Flower provides the first chronological overview of the development of this Roman practice--an instruction to forget--from archaic times into the second century A.D.
A Banking Perspective
In this ground-breaking analysis of the world's first private banks, Edward Cohen convincingly demonstrates the existence and functioning of a market economy in ancient Athens while revising our understanding of the society itself. Challenging the "primitivistic" view, in which bankers are merely pawnbrokers and money-changers, Cohen reveals that fourth-century Athenian bankers pursued sophisticated transactions. These dealings--although technologically far removed from modern procedures--were in financial essence identical with the lending and deposit-taking that separate true "banks" from other businesses. He further explores how the Athenian banks facilitated tax and creditor avoidance among the wealthy, and how women and slaves played important roles in these family businesses--thereby gaining legal rights entirely unexpected in a society supposedly dominated by an elite of male citizens.
Special emphasis is placed on the reflection of Athenian cognitive patterns in financial practices. Cohen shows how transactions were affected by the complementary opposites embedded in the very structure of Athenian language and thought. In turn, his analysis offers great insight into daily Athenian reality and cultural organization.
Challenging the modern assumption that ancient Athens is best understood as a polis, Edward Cohen boldly recasts our understanding of Athenian political and social life. Cohen demonstrates that ancient sources referred to Athens not only as a polis, but also as a "nation" (ethnos), and that Athens did encompass the characteristics now used to identify a "nation." He argues that in Athens economic, religious, sexual, and social dimensions were no less significant than political and juridical considerations, and accordingly rejects prevailing scholarship's equation of Athens with its male citizen body.
In fact, Cohen shows that the categories of "citizen" and "noncitizen" were much more fluid than is often assumed, and that some noncitizens exercised considerable power. He explores such subjects as the economic importance of businesswomen and wealthy slaves; the authority exercised by enslaved public functionaries; the practical egalitarianism of erotic relations and the broad and meaningful protections against sexual abuse of both free persons and slaves, and especially of children; the wide involvement of all sectors of the population in significant religious and local activities. All this emerges from the use of fresh legal, economic, and archaeological evidence and analysis that reveal the social complexity of Athens, and the demographic and geographic factors giving rise to personal anonymity and limiting personal contacts--leading to the creation of an "imagined community" with a mutually conceptualized identity, a unified economy, and national "myths" set in historical fabrication.
Attic Letter-Cutters of 300 to 229 B.C.
Little of the historiography of third-century Athens survives, and much of what we know—or might know—about the period has come down to us in inscriptions carved by Attic stonemasons of the time. In this book Stephen Tracy, the world's preeminent expert in this area, provides new insight into an unsettled and obscure moment in antiquity.
The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought
The Classical Athenians were the first to articulate and implement the notion that ordinary citizens of no particular affluence or education could make responsible political decisions. For this reason, reactions to Athenian democracy have long provided a prime Rorschach test for political thought. Whether praising Athens's government as the legitimizing ancestor of modern democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators throughout history have revealed much about their own notions of politics and society. In this book, Jennifer Roberts charts responses to Athenian democracy from Athens itself through the twentieth century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender studies, and educational theory.
People and Prosperity in Southern Spain from Caesar to Septimius Severus
Baetica, the present-day region of Andalusia in southern Spain, was the wealthiest province of the Roman Empire. Its society was dynamic and marked by upward social and economic mobility, as the imperial peace allowed the emergence of a substantial middle social and economic stratum. Indeed, so mutually beneficial was the imposition of Roman rule on the local population of Baetica that it demands a new understanding of the relationship between Imperial Rome and its provinces. Baetica Felix builds a new model of Roman-provincial relations through a socio-economic history of the province from Julius Caesar to the end of the second century A.D. Describing and analyzing the impact of Roman rule on a core province, Evan Haley addresses two broad questions: what effect did Roman rule have on patterns of settlement and production in Baetica, and how did it contribute to wealth generation and social mobility? His findings conclusively demonstrate that meeting the multiple demands of the Roman state created a substantial freeborn and ex-slave "middle stratum" of the population that outnumbered both the super-rich elite and the destitute poor.