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434 ism in the Roman empire as ‘a decentralized , emergent process’, not dissimilar to the suggestions made by Rodney Stark among others regarding the spread of Christianity. In the end, a model is only as good as its data: but an incomplete model can nevertheless give some idea of the scale and shape of a problem. Nor is this to say that the only gains are in the abstract modelling of largescale phenomena. One of the chief advantages of network theory is its claim that general patterns are understood to emerge from what Isabella Sandwell in her paper calls ‘the messiness of [the] actual practice of social relationships’. Such a dual focus is directly exploited by Kostas Vlassopoulos as a way to undermine the polarities inherent in our usual models of the Greek polis, and to refocus our attention instead on the ‘lived experience ’ of its inhabitants. ‘What occurs,’ he asks, ‘when a citizen and a metic drink together and converse in a tavern or a barber’s shop?’. In this case, network theory is used to return from (post-)structuralism to a (post-) Marxist social history ; whereas elsewhere, discussing the same phenomenon of private associations withintheGreekpolis,VincentGabrielsen makes the case for networks as a way of exploring modern ideas of ‘communitarism’. Network theory, it would seem, imposes no single interpretation : it is not so much an explanation as a perspective on the past. None of this is wholly new, of course, and networks of trade and patronage and civic loyalties have long been recognised in the ancient as in the modern world. In general it would be a mistake, I think, to imagine that network theory can provide us with a more privileged access to historical reality: to ‘how it really was’. But it can make clearer what questions remain to be asked, or else may be worth asking again. And even if its main contribution is to allow us to redescribe the past, then— well, historians have always engaged in redescription. After all, to reinterpret the world is inevitably to change it. Michael Stuart Williams National University of Ireland Maynooth Osborne, Robin 2009. Greece in the Making , 1200–479 BC, London, Routledge. Sowerby, Robin 2009. The Greeks. An Introduction to Their Culture, London, Routledge, 2nd edition (1995); 240 p. ill. S.’s and O.’s books are both second editions of works published in 1995 and 1996, respectively.1 According to their differentaims,interestsandqualities,they have followed different paths in the consideration they have been given by specialists in ancient Greece. Although apparently dealing with the same topic (the evolution of Greek culture, much more chronologically focused in O.’s case), they in fact represent different approaches to (and intentions about) the subject. StartingwithS.,theideaofthebookis, apparently, to offer some glimpses of the Greekculturetothecommonreader.However , this is a conclusion that must be drawn from the book itself, because there is no declaration of intentions, and no explicit justification of the choices (and omissions) of the argumentation. Aware of the limitations of an introductory work like this, S. deliberately leaves aside detailedapproachestoculturalaspectslike (13) Last pages 24.10.17, 11:01 434 435 law or economy. Following this general, introductory principle, its political and military narrative (which covers the first two chapters) focuses on the ‘highlights’ of the Greek history: the Mycenaean collapse , the Homeric world, the rise of Athens and Sparta, the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War, Philip, and Alexander. Each episode tries to include some elements of discussion (like the nature of the Homeric society and values, pp. 22–29, or the connection between democracy and empire in Periclean Athens, pp. 52–55), but overall, S. offers a fairly established picture of Greek history. Thefourremainingchapters,arranged around a thematic basis, focus on the most common and easily recognizable aspects of (respectively) Greek religion, literature , philosophy and art. They do so from achronologicalperspective,whichmakes possibletoidentifytheevolutionandtransformation of these elements of Greek culture. The book offers interesting tools, like a glossary of Greek terms and a long list of illustrations, but the bibliography suggested for further reading is only slightly up-to-date, and the selection of titles is not truly representative. The innovations of the new edition are mainly formal (pictures...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2523-9465
Print ISSN
1016-3476
Pages
pp. 434-437
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-11
Open Access
No
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