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Studies by Time Period > Ancient Studies and Classics

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Athenian Economy and Society Cover

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Athenian Economy and Society

A Banking Perspective

Edward Cohen

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.

The Athenian Nation Cover

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The Athenian Nation

Edward Cohen

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.

Athens and Macedon Cover

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Athens and Macedon

Attic Letter-Cutters of 300 to 229 B.C.

Stephen V. Tracy

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.

Athens on Trial Cover

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Athens on Trial

The Antidemocratic Tradition in Western Thought

Jennifer Tolbert Roberts

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.

Aucassin and Nicolette Cover

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Aucassin and Nicolette

A Facing-Page Edition and Translation

A comic masterpiece of medieval French literature, Aucassin and Nicolette is categorized by its anonymous author as a “chantefable,” or “song-story,” and is the only known work of this kind. This edition includes the thirteenth-century French text and a modern English translation on facing pages. An introduction outlines the text’s background, genre, literary relations, historical contexts, major themes, and relevance to a contemporary audience. Its alternating sections of verse and prose recount a story of love between the aristocratic but distinctly unheroic young lord Aucassin and his beloved Nicolette. Despite familial disapproval, class and ethnic differences, imprisonment, and geographical separation, Nicolette’s single-minded pursuit of Aucassin raises interesting questions about gender roles and their depiction in the Middle Ages. The issue of identity is also addressed, as the identity of Nicolette shifts in terms of class, religion, and ethnicity: born a Muslim princess, she becomes both a slave and a Christian convert, and is eventually recaptured by her Saracen family, much to her displeasure. With its daring escapes, its descriptions of travel to exotic lands, its separations, and its happy reunions, Aucassin and Nicolette is both a classic romantic comedy and an entertaining parody of the romance genre.

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Augustine and the Cure of Souls

Revising a Classical Ideal

Paul R. Kolbet

Augustine and the Cure of Souls situates Augustine within the ancient philosophical tradition of using words to order emotions. Paul Kolbet uncovers a profound continuity in Augustine’s thought, from his earliest pre-baptismal writings to his final acts as bishop, revealing a man deeply indebted to the Roman past and yet distinctly Christian. Rather than supplanting his classical learning, Augustine’s Christianity reinvigorated precisely those elements of Roman wisdom that he believed were slipping into decadence. In particular, Kolbet addresses the manner in which Augustine not only used classical rhetorical theory to express his theological vision, but also infused it with theological content. This book offers a fresh reading of Augustine’s writings—particularly his numerous, though often neglected, sermons—and provides an accessible point of entry into the great North African bishop’s life and thought.

Augustine's

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Augustine's "Confessions"

A Biography

Garry Wills

In this brief and incisive book, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills tells the story of the Confessions--what motivated Augustine to dictate it, how it asks to be read, and the many ways it has been misread in the one-and-a-half millennia since it was composed. Following Wills's biography of Augustine and his translation of the Confessions, this is an unparalleled introduction to one of the most important books in the Christian and Western traditions.

Understandably fascinated by the story of Augustine's life, modern readers have largely succumbed to the temptation to read the Confessions as autobiography. But, Wills argues, this is a mistake. The book is not autobiography but rather a long prayer, suffused with the language of Scripture and addressed to God, not man. Augustine tells the story of his life not for its own significance but in order to discern how, as a drama of sin and salvation leading to God, it fits into sacred history. "We have to read Augustine as we do Dante," Wills writes, "alert to rich layer upon layer of Scriptural and theological symbolism." Wills also addresses the long afterlife of the book, from controversy in its own time and relative neglect during the Middle Ages to a renewed prominence beginning in the fourteenth century and persisting to today, when the Confessions has become an object of interest not just for Christians but also historians, philosophers, psychiatrists, and literary critics.

With unmatched clarity and skill, Wills strips away the centuries of misunderstanding that have accumulated around Augustine's spiritual classic.

Ayn Rand Cover

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Ayn Rand

The Russian Radical

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. Yet, despite the sale of over thirty million copies of her works, there have been few serious scholarly examinations of her thought. Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical provides a comprehensive analysis of the intellectual roots and philosophy of this controversial thinker. It has been nearly twenty years since the original publication of Chris Sciabarra’s Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Those years have witnessed an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on philosophy, politics, and culture; in film and literature; and in contemporary American politics, from the rise of the Tea Party to recent presidential campaigns. During this time Sciabarra continued to work toward the reclamation of the dialectical method in the service of a radical libertarian politics, culminating in his book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism (Penn State, 2000). In this new edition of Ayn Rand, Chris Sciabarra adds two chapters that present in-depth analysis of the most complete transcripts to date documenting Rand’s education at Petrograd State University. A new preface places the book in the context of Sciabarra’s own research and the recent expansion of interest in Rand’s philosophy. Finally, this edition includes a postscript that answers a recent critic of Sciabarra’s historical work on Rand. Shoshana Milgram, Rand’s biographer, has tried to cast doubt on Rand’s own recollections of having studied with the famous Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky. Sciabarra shows that Milgram’s analysis fails to cast doubt on Rand’s recollections—or on Sciabarra’s historical thesis.

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Baetica Felix

People and Prosperity in Southern Spain from Caesar to Septimius Severus

By Evan W. Haley

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.

Barbarian Tides Cover

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Barbarian Tides

The Migration Age and the Later Roman Empire

By Walter Goffart

The Migration Age is still envisioned as an onrush of expansionary "Germans" pouring unwanted into the Roman Empire and subjecting it to pressures so great that its western parts collapsed under the weight. Further developing the themes set forth in his classic Barbarians and Romans, Walter Goffart dismantles this grand narrative, shaking the barbarians of late antiquity out of this "Germanic" setting and reimagining the role of foreigners in the Later Roman Empire.

The Empire was not swamped by a migratory Germanic flood for the simple reason that there was no single ancient Germanic civilization to be transplanted onto ex-Roman soil. Since the sixteenth century, the belief that purposeful Germans existed in parallel with the Romans has been a fixed point in European history. Goffart uncovers the origins of this historical untruth and argues that any projection of a modern Germany out of an ancient one is illusory. Rather, the multiplicity of northern peoples once living on the edges of the Empire participated with the Romans in the larger stirrings of late antiquity. Most relevant among these was the long militarization that gripped late Roman society concurrently with its Christianization.

If the fragmented foreign peoples with which the Empire dealt gave Rome an advantage in maintaining its ascendancy, the readiness to admit military talents of any social origin to positions of leadership opened the door of imperial service to immigrants from beyond its frontiers. Many barbarians were settled in the provinces without dislodging the Roman residents or destabilizing landownership; some were even incorporated into the ruling families of the Empire. The outcome of this process, Goffart argues, was a society headed by elites of soldiers and Christian clergy—one we have come to call medieval.

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