For the Archaeological Institute of America & Society for Classical Studies 2021, Eric Schmidt shares virtual conference highlights.
“I acquire broadly in premodern history and religion. Our publishing program has a cultural studies remit overall, and as part of the premodern list, I’m especially interested in books that study the passage of people, things, and ideas across the boundaries of lands and languages.
“We also have a program in World Literature in Translation, which features superior translations of major works of historical importance from around the premodern world. This collection is dedicated to a truly inclusive view of literature, covering everything from epic to lyric to folktale to history, with works from marginalized traditions sitting aside more recognizable works.”
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New and Notable from UC Press
What Aristophanes Can Teach Us about the Perils of Populism and the Fate of Democracy, New Translations of the Acharnians and the Knights
by Robert C. Bartlett
Against Demagogues presents Robert C. Bartlett’s new translations of Aristophanes’ most overtly political works, the Acharnians and the Knights. In these fantastically inventive, raucous, and raunchy comedies, the powerful politician Cleon proves to be democracy’s greatest opponent. With unrivalled power, both plays make clear the dangers to which democracies are prone, especially the threats posed by external warfare, internal division, and class polarization.
Environmental Encounters with Ancient Greek Ethnography
by Clara Bosak-Schroeder
Ancient Greek ethnographies—descriptions of other peoples—provide unique resources for understanding ancient environmental thought and assumptions, as well as anxieties, about how humans relate to nature as a whole. In Other Natures, Clara Bosak-Schroeder examines the works of seminal authors such as Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus to persuasively demonstrate how non-Greek communities affected and were in turn deeply affected by their local animals, plants, climate, and landscape. She shows that these authors used ethnographies of non-Greek peoples to explore, question, and challenge how Greeks ate, procreated, nurtured, collaborated, accumulated, and consumed. In recuperating this important strain of ancient thought, Bosak-Schroeder makes it newly relevant to vital questions and ideas being posed in the environmental humanities today, arguing that human life and well-being are inextricable from the life and well-being of the nonhuman world. By turning to such ancient ethnographies, we can uncover important models for confronting environmental crisis.
Greek Poems to the Gods
Hymns from Homer to Proclus
by Barry B. Powell
Greek Poems to the Gods distills over a thousand years of the ancient Greek hymnic tradition into a single volume. Acclaimed translator Barry B. Powell brings these fabulous texts to life in English, hewing closely to the poetic beauty of the original Greek. His superb introductions and notes give readers essential context, making the hymns as accessible to a beginner approaching them for the first time as to an advanced student continuing to explore their secrets. Brilliant illustrations from ancient art enliven and enrichen the experience of reading these poems.
New in Paperback
Beyond the Second Sophistic
Adventures in Greek Postclassicism
by Tim Whitmarsh
The “Second Sophistic” traditionally refers to a period at the height of the Roman Empire’s power that witnessed a flourishing of Greek rhetoric and oratory, and since the 19th century it has often been viewed as a defense of Hellenic civilization against the domination of Rome. This book proposes a very different model. Covering popular fiction, poetry and Greco-Jewish material, it argues for a rich, dynamic, and diverse culture, which cannot be reduced to a simple model of continuity. Shining new light on a series of playful, imaginative texts that are left out of the traditional accounts of Greek literature, Whitmarsh models a more adventurous, exploratory approach to later Greek culture. Beyond the Second Sophistic offers not only a new way of looking at Greek literature from 300 BCE onwards, but also a challenge to the Eurocentric, aristocratic constructions placed on the Greek heritage. Accessible and lively, it will appeal to students and scholars of Greek literature and culture, Hellenistic Judaism, world literature, and cultural theory.
New in Paperback
The Iranian Expanse
Transforming Royal Identity through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE–642 CE
by Matthew P. Canepa
The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in Persia and the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies. Investigating over a thousand years of history, from the Achaemenid period to the arrival of Islam, The Iranian Expanse argues that Iranian identities were built and shaped not by royal discourse alone, but by strategic changes to Western Asia’s cities, sanctuaries, palaces, and landscapes. The Iranian Expanse critically examines the construction of a new Iranian royal identity and empire, which subsumed and subordinated all previous traditions, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Anatolia.
New in Paperback
The Final Pagan Generation
Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity
by Edward J. Watts
The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century’s dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors’ interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the “final pagan generation”—born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years—proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.
The Selected Letters of Cassiodorus
A Sixth-Century Sourcebook
translated by M. Shane Bjornlie
Translated and selected by scholar M. Shane Bjornlie, The Selected Letters gathers the most interesting evidence from the Veriae for understanding the political culture, legal structure, intellectual and religious worldviews, and social evolution during the twilight of the late-Roman state. Bjornlie’s invaluable introduction discusses Cassiodorus’s work in civil, legal, and financial administration, revealing his interactions with emperors, kings, bishops, military commanders, private citizens, and even criminals. Section notes introduce each letter to contextualize its themes and connection with other letters, opening a window to Cassiodorus’s world.
Texts and Translations
by Geoffrey S. Smith
Valentinus, an Egyptian Christian who traveled to Rome to teach his unique brand of theology, and his followers, the Valentinians, formed one of the largest and most influential sects of Christianity in the second and third centuries. But by the fourth century, their writings had all but disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from the historical record, as the newly consolidated imperial Christian Church condemned as heretical all forms of what has come to be known as Gnosticism. Only in 1945 were their extensive original works finally rediscovered, and the resurrected “Gnostic Gospels” soon rooted themselves in both the scholarly and popular imagination.
Valentinian Christianity: Texts and Translations brings together for the first time all the extant texts composed by Valentinus and his followers. With accessible introductions and fresh translations based on new transcriptions of the original Greek and Coptic manuscripts on facing pages, Geoffrey S. Smith provides an illuminating, balanced overview of Valentinian Christianity and its formative place in Christian history.