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Tacitus on Imperial Rome
A theoretically sophisticated and illuminating reading of Tacitus, especially the Histories, this work points to a new understanding of the logic of Roman rule during the early Empire.
Tacitus, in Holly Haynes’ analysis, does not write about the reality of imperial politics and culture but about the imaginary picture that imperial society makes of these concrete conditions of existence—the "making up and believing" that figure in both the subjective shaping of reality and the objective interpretation of it. Haynes traces Tacitus’s development of this fingere/credere dynamic both backward and forward from the crucial year A.D. 69. Using recent theories of ideology, especially within the Marxist and psychoanalytic traditions, she exposes the psychic logic lurking behind the actions and inaction of the protagonists of the Histories. Her work demonstrates how Tacitus offers penetrating insights into the conditions of historical knowledge and into the psychic logic of power and its vicissitudes, from Augustus through the Flavians.
By clarifying an explicit acknowledgment of the difficult relationship between res and verba, in the Histories, Haynes shows how Tacitus calls into question the possibility of objective knowing—how he may in fact be the first to allow readers to separate the objectively knowable from the objectively unknowable. Thus, Tacitus appears here as going further toward identifying the object of historical inquiry—and hence toward an "objective" rendering of history—than most historians before or since.
From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
While we all seem to talk about politics, few of us actually know how today’s issues fit into the framework of political history. Indeed, as contemporary French philosopher Philippe Nemo points out, much of our Western secondary education is increasingly compartmentalized and provides no overarching framework for thought or any chronological bearings. With this engaging and comprehensive volume, Nemo provides just such context, as he traces the origins of political thinking from the earliest prestates through subsequent eras to allow us to better understand today’s super states. Nemo sets forth the premise that the beginnings of political thought—our political science—can be traced to three primary sources: the philosophers and thinkers of the Greek city-state, Roman law, and the Christian Gospels. He analyzes the pre-Greek prepolitical societies and, leaning on the work of anthropologists, shows that while these societies may have had organizing principles, they did not have the concept of an evolving jurisdiction that governed the people—a concept that is the foundation of political thought. From the Greeks—Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and the Stoics—Nemo moves on to the Romans. He demonstrates how Cicero, Seneca, and Tacitus added that sense of evolving jurisdiction and shaped political thought for generations to come. Finally, the impact of Christian thought is examined, including a discussion of the “political” ideas present in biblical texts and the attitudes of Christians living under the Roman Empire. Tracing the birth and development of canon law and the influence of numerous Christian thinkers and writers—including Saints Paul, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas—Nemo reveals the additional layer these have added to the history of political organization. By including little-known details and fascinating stories, Nemo makes these historical figures and their thought come alive for us—and, in the process, provides us with an understanding of the foundations upon which the contributions of modern (and postmodern) political thinkers continue to build.
The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus
The Humblest Sparrow is a superbly illuminating study of one of the major Latin poets of late antiquity. Every chapter is marked by a thorough, accurate, and up to date knowledge of the historical and material setting of the Merovingian upper classes. As a deep treatment of Fortunatus' poetry, this book will surely appeal to readers with a serious interest in the Latin verse of late antiquity. ---William Klingshirn, Catholic University of America In The Humblest Sparrow, Michael Roberts illuminates the poetry of the sixth-century bishop and poet Venantius Fortunatus. Often regarded as an important transitional figure, Fortunatus wrote poetry that is seen to bridge the late classical and earlier medieval periods. Written in Latin, his poems combined the influences of classical Latin poets with a medieval tone, giving him a special place in literary history. Yet while interest has been growing in the early Merovingian period, and while the writing of Fortunatus' patron Gregory of Tours has been well studied, Fortunatus himself has often been neglected. This neglect is remedied by this in-depth study, which will appeal to scholars of late antique, early Christian, and medieval Latin poetry. Roberts divides Fortunatus' poetry into three main groups: poetry of praise, hagiographical poetry, and personal poetry. In addition to providing a general survey, Roberts discusses in detail many individual poems and proposes a number of theses on the nature, function, relation to social and linguistic context, and survival of Fortunatus' poetry, as well as the image of the poet created by his work. Michael Roberts is Robert Rich Professor of Latin at Wesleyan University. Jacket illustration: L. Alma Tadema, Venantius Fortunatus Reading his Poems to Radegonda VI AD 555. (Courtesy of Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum.) Also of Interest Abandoned Women: Rewriting the Classics in Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer, by Suzanne Hagedorn The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton, by J. Christopher Warner Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, edited by Ronald Bedford, Lloyd Davis, and Philippa Kelly
Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius
Caesar Augustus promoted a modest image of himself as the first among equals (princeps), a characterization that was as popular with the ancient Romans as it is with many scholars today. Paul Rehak argues against this impression of humility and suggests that, like the monarchs of the Hellenistic age, Augustus sought immortality—an eternal glory gained through deliberate planning for his niche in history while flexing his existing power. Imperium and Cosmos focuses on Augustus’s Mausoleum and Ustrinum (site of his cremation), the Horologium-Solarium (a colossal sundial), and the Ara Pacis (Altar to Augustan Peace), all of which transformed the northern Campus Martius into a tribute to his major achievements in life and a vast memorial for his deification after death.
Rehak closely examines the artistic imagery on these monuments, providing numerous illustrations, tables, and charts. In an analysis firmly contextualized by a thorough discussion of the earlier models and motifs that inspired these Augustan monuments, Rehak shows how the princeps used these on such an unprecedented scale as to truly elevate himself above the common citizen.
Vedic and Roman Cult
In Indo-European Sacred Space, Roger D. Woodard provides a careful examination of the sacred spaces of ancient Rome, finding them remarkably consistent with older Indo-European religious practices as described in the Vedas of ancient India. Employing and expanding on the fundamental methods of Ã‰mile Benveniste, as well as Georges Dumezil's tripartite analysis of Proto-Indo-European society, Woodard clarifies not only the spatial dynamics of the archaic Roman cult but, stemming from that, an unexpected clarification of several obscure issues in the study of Roman religion. _x000B_Looking closely at the organization of Roman religious activity, especially as regards sacrifices, festivals, and the hierarchy of priests, Woodard sheds new light on issues including the presence of the god Terminus in Jupiter's Capitoline temple, the nature of the Roman suovetaurilia, the Ambarvalia and its relationship to the rites of the Fratres Arvales, and the identification of the "Sabine" god Semo Sancus. Perhaps most significantly, this work also presents a novel and persuasive resolution to the long standing problem of "agrarian Mars."_x000B__x000B__x000B_
The school of Greek philosopher Epicurus, which became known as the Garden, famously put great stock in happiness and pleasure. As a philosophical community, and a way of seeing the world, Epicureanism had a centuries-long life in Athens and Rome, as well as across the Mediterranean. The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus studies how the Garden's outlook on pleasure captured Greek and Roman imaginations---particularly among non-Epicureans---for generations after its legendary founding. Unsympathetic sources from disparate eras generally focus not on historic personages but on the symbolic Epicurean. And yet the traditions of this imagined Garden, with its disreputable women and unmanly men, give us intermittent glimpses of historical Epicureans and their conceptions of the Epicurean life. Pamela Gordon suggests how a close hearing and contextualization of anti-Epicurean discourse leads us to a better understanding of the cultural history of Epicureanism. Her primary focus is on sources hostile to the Garden, but her Epicurean-friendly perspective is apparent throughout. Her engagement with ancient anti-Epicurean texts makes more palpable their impact on modern responses to the Garden. Intended both for students and for scholars of Epicureanism and its response, the volume is organized primarily according to the themes common among Epicurus' detractors. It considers the place of women in Epicurean circles, as well as the role of Epicurean philosophy in Homer and other writers.
Coinage appeared at a moment when it fulfilled an essential need in Greek society and brought with it rationalization and social leveling in some respects, while simultaneously producing new illusions, paradoxes, and new elites. In a book that will encourage scholarly discussion for some time, David M. Schaps addresses a range of important coinage topics, among them money, exchange, and economic organization in the Near East and in Greece before the introduction of coinage; the invention of coinage and the reasons for its adoption; and the developing use of money to make more money. David M. Schaps is Professor of Classics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
On the boundary of what the ancient Greeks and Romans considered the habitable world, Ireland was a land of myth and mystery in classical times. Classical authors frequently portrayed its people as savages—even as cannibals and devotees of incest—and evinced occasional uncertainty as to the island’s shape, size, and actual location. Unlike neighboring Britain, Ireland never knew Roman occupation, yet literary and archaeological evidence prove that Iuverna was more than simply terra incognita in classical antiquity. In this book, Philip Freeman explores the relations between ancient Ireland and the classical world through a comprehensive survey of all Greek and Latin literary sources that mention Ireland. He analyzes passages (given in both the original language and English) from over thirty authors, including Julius Caesar, Strabo, Tacitus, Ptolemy, and St. Jerome. To amplify the literary sources, he also briefly reviews the archaeological and linguistic evidence for contact between Ireland and the Mediterranean world. Freeman’s analysis of all these sources reveals that Ireland was known to the Greeks and Romans for hundreds of years and that Mediterranean goods and even travelers found their way to Ireland, while the Irish at least occasionally visited, traded, and raided in Roman lands. Everyone interested in ancient Irish history or Classics, whether scholar or enthusiast, will learn much from this pioneering book.
Vol. 5 (2014) through current issue
Islamic Africa is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, academic journal published by Northwestern University Press in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), based at Northwestern University, Evanston. The journal incorporates Sudanic Africa, retaining its focus on historical sources, bibliographies, and methodologies. Islamic Africa promotes interaction between scholars of Islam and Africa across all continents and across historical periods.