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170 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 In so wide-ranging abook as this, specialists will no doubt find the usual quota of minor inaccuracies and pOints of disagreement. I could find only one serious error: in his 'cautionary tale' on the difficulty of interpreting archaeological remains, Golden uses a 1988 article by the then-excavator of Olympia, who thought that what the great German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld had seen as the stone boundary of a Bronze Age tumulus was actually a natural line of stones. By 1990, however, excavation on the site vindicated Dorpfeld's supposition by showing that the turnulus with surroundingbuildings did in fact date from the early Bronze Age, as the editor of that year's Archaeological Reports noted. The moral: never bet against the German greats unless you know you hold all the cards. Golden provides a useful, stimulating overview for people with some knowledge of antiquity. The book makes enjoyable reading: he studs the text with a plethora of witty modern parallels, some of which may baffle non-North American readers as much as references to 'googlies' and LBWS in works by British scholars have long puzzled Canadians and Americans. Academics who face the prospect of teaching the subject for the first time or want a conceptual handle on Greek athletics will find Sport and Society useful; students new to classical antiquity will have to wait a little longer. (NIGEL M. KENNELL) Desmond Conacher. Euripides and the Sophists Duckworth. 128. £l2.95 The author is a distinguished interpreter of Greek tragedy whose efforts to bring its serious study to a wider audience have earned well-deserved praise. Conacher's purpose in his most recent volume is 'to consider Euripides ' development of a few leading ideas of the Sophists (and, occasionally , of his contemporaries) and his refashioning of these ideas in certain plays, into dramatic themes of his own'; he is, moreover, concerned with Euripides 'more as a creative dramatist than as a philosophic thinker.' The topics which he addresses include the nature, teachability, and relativity of virtue (chapters 2 and 3), the power and abuses of rhetoric (chapter 4), reality and sense perception (chapter 5), and nomos, i.e. (roughly) 'custom' (chapter 6). His discussions follow the same methodical pattern in each chapter: he begins with a brief consideration of relevant evidence from the Sophists themselves, then examines Euripides' handling of the chapter's main theme through discussions of selected plays. It is clear that Conacher has written this book mainly for the student, the general reader, and the nonspecialist: the range ofplays under discussion is limited, as is the detail of the analyses; summaries of plots are frequently included; a 'Conspectus of Sophists' is added as an appendix; and all ancient evidence is presented in translation, with much of it transliterated. Conacher is especially insightful in his analyses of key thematic concepts, such as sophrosune ('self-control') and aidos (/a sense of shame') in HUMANITIE5 171 HippolytusI and charis (,favour for favour') in Alcestis; these discussions are succinct and sensible. Other arguments are less useful. For instance, even if it is the case that Trojan Women demonstrates a knowledge of Gorgias's Encomium ofHelen (the examination of this question is inconclusive), what are the implications for the play? The limitations of this book are also apparent in its omissions. Perhapsthe most enduring legacy of the Sophists lies in their reflections upon the rival claims of nomos and phusis (,nature,' 'natural law'). It is perfectly reasonable that Heraclidae and Bacchae should be considered for their developments of this theme, but in this connection it would have been instructive also to examine such widely read (and relatively early) plays as Medea and Hippolytus. A more extensive consideration of Euripides' approach towards sophistic rationalization of myth than the ta'ntalizing one offered here (cf 17-25) would be of great interest to the student and the general reader, and any discussion about the relativity of values ought to use Thucydides' practical reflections (2.53, 3.82, and elsewhere) as a touchstone. The question must be asked how well Conacher's intended readership is served by the scope and organization of this book. Nobody doubts that Euripides' plays clearly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 170-171
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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