- A Companion to the Classical Greek World
The series of Blackwell companions to the Ancient World has already earned a strong reputation for its scholarly quality and its usefulness to an intended audience of scholars, students, and general readers. This volume will enhance that reputation. Its editor, Konrad Kinzl, has gathered contributions from twenty-six international scholars of the highest calibre to produce the kind of volume that perhaps few would read from cover to cover, but many would return to repeatedly for consultation on a broad range of questions in the field. Space does not allow for a detailed review of all twenty-seven contributions, so I will comment on the general features of the collection.
All of the contributors are internationally recognized specialists in their fields, but they have clearly taken care to present their material so as to make it accessible to even a beginning scholar. Most of the essays cover the major questions of the topic, a survey of the important evidence, and an overview of the main methodological problems and debates. Suggestions for further reading, in addition to extensive and upto date bibliographies follow each essay to guide those who wish to pursue their research further. All the same, there is enough detailed information in the individual offerings, and a varied enough range of topics overall, to make the volume valuable for even advanced scholars who specialize in related areas of research.
For the reader who is willing to read the volume from cover to cover, the essays, while individually self-contained, are presented in an order designed to lead one through a survey of classical Greek history, however one might define the discipline of history. The first contribution, 'The Classical Age as a Historical Epoch' by Uwe Walter, offers an introduction to the theoretical problems involved in definitions of the 'Classical' as a historical period. There follow two essays by P.J. Rhodes and one by Björn Forsén on the sources and their limitations. Then there is a series of essays that are organized geographically, covering the Greek world from Athens and Sparta outward to the farthest borders of the Greek-speaking world in the Mediterranean and beyond. A pair of essays follows on environments and landscapes, before a series on the socio-historical topics of economics, religion, citizenship, and women and ethnicity. Three chapters cover government and political institutions, and then education and art are addressed. A chapter on warfare precedes the last four, which take a periodic approach, ending with a discussion of Alexander the Great. The overall perspective thus offered has both depth and breadth that one is not likely to find elsewhere in a single volume.
This book shows evidence of great editorial care in its organization and layout. Over fifty figures, as well as charts, maps, and graphs [End Page 211] illustrate the written material. I found only very infrequent and minor typographical errors. One that should perhaps be pointed out is on page 432, where in the first sentence east and west are reversed.
This book deserves a place on the shelf of anyone interested, at any almost level, in classical Greek history.