The Oxford Classical Dictionary

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9780198606413: The Oxford Classical Dictionary

For almost half a century, the Oxford Classical Dictionary has been the unrivaled one-volume reference work on the Greco-Roman world. Whether one is interested in literature or art, philosophy or law, mythology or science, intimate details of daily life or broad cultural and historical trends, the OCD is the first place to turn for clear, authoritative information on ancient culture.

This newly revised and completely up-to-date third edition of this historic reference adequately reflects the recent expansion in the scholarship and scope of classical studies. Here, in over six thousand entries ranging from long articles to brief identifications, readers can find information on virtually any topic of interestathletics, bee-keeping, botany, magic, Roman law, religious rites, postal service, slavery, navigation, and the reckoning of time. The Dictionary profiles every major figure of Greece and Rome-and lesser known figures not found in other references-from Homer and Virgil, to Plato and Aristotle, to Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. Readers will find entries on mythological and legendary figures, on major cities, famous buildings, and important geographical landmarks, and on legal, rhetorical, literary, and political terms and concepts, as well as extensive thematic articles that offer superb coverage of topics of interest to both scholars and general readers, exploring everything from medicine and mathematics to music, law, and marriage.

With contributions and guidance from some of the finest classical scholars in the world, the Oxford Classical Dictionary has no equal in any language. It is the definitive summation of classical scholarship as it stands today.

The Dictionary covers:

politics, government, economy - from political figures to systems, terms and practices, histories of major states and empires, economic theory, agriculture, artisans and industry, trade and markets

religion and mythology - deities and mythological creatures, beliefs and rituals, sanctuaries and sacred buildings, astrology and magic

law and philosophy - from biographies of lawgivers and lawyers to legal terms and procedures, from major and minor philosophers to philosophical schools, terms, and concepts

science and geography - scientists and scientific theory and practice, doctors and medicine, climate and landscape, natural disasters, regions and islands, cities and settlements, communications

languages, literature, art, and architecture - languages and dialects, writers and literary terms and genres, orators and rhetorical theory and practice, drama and performance, art, painters and sculptors, architects, buildings and materials

archaeology and historical writing - amphorae and pottery, shipwrecks and cemeteries, historians, and Greek and Roman historiography

military history - generals, arms and armour, famous battles, attitudes to warfare

social history, sex, and gender - women and the family, kinship, peasants and slaves, attitudes to sexuality

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About the Author:


Simon Hornblower is Professor of Classics and Ancient History, University College London. He is the author and editor of many books (see books by the same author). Antony Spawforth is Professor of Ancient History, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is also a well-known presenter of television programmes on archaeological and classical subjects in the BBC series 'Ancient Voices'. He has written and edited many books (see books by the same author).

From Booklist:

Over a quarter of a century has elapsed since the last revision to the Oxford Classical Dictionary, longer even than the 21 years between the first and second editions. As noted in the introduction to the current edition, those years have seen a phenomenal growth in classical scholarship, indeed, in all the humanistic disciplines, and an awakening of interest in new theories and subjects long ignored. Evidence of these changes can be seen in the titles of some of the approximately 800 new articles: Homosexuality, Women in Philosophy, Abortion, Class Struggle, and Literary Theory and Classical Languages. Most articles show signs of revision and reworking, often extensive. Bibliographies have been updated as well, even in those articles (mostly short ones) reprinted without change. The editors have also made an effort to make the work more accessible to the layperson. Many of the new articles are thematic articles of general interest: Earthquakes; Shipwrecks, Ancient; and Fishing, for example. Contributors have been instructed to limit explanations that require knowledge of Greek or Latin, and although a number do appear, they are generally related to very specific details and do not compromise the comprehension of the articles in which they are found. As with the second edition, there is no general index, but there are rather generous cross-references as well as asterisks next to terms for which a separate article exists.

Users of the previous editions will be happy to know that the new edition continues to function well as a tool for identification and for the location of much of what factual information is known of the ancient world. Many of the new articles are for specific individuals, places, or things, from Acanthus (a Greek colony in Chalcidice) to Zeuxis Philathes (a Greek physician of the Augustan age). The level of scholarship remains uncompromising. Bibliographies, for example, consistently list relevant primary texts and often include non-English secondary sources. Certain discussions may not be clear to every reader, as in the account under Calender, Roman of how the 10-month calendar acquired extra months, which omits any explanation of how Quintilus came to be July. An effort has been made in this edition to list persons under family name and under linguistically correct forms even when other forms may be more familiar, so that Julius Caesar is under Iulius Caesar, Gaius and Scipio Africanus under Cornelius Scipio Africanus (the elder), Publius, though adequate cross-references exist. Occasionally, an effort to move the discussion of a specific term to a more general article has produced a blind reference; the reader, for example, is told under effatus to see Augures, but in that article the term effatus is not mentioned.

Still, despite occasional difficulties, this is a work that makes a fascinating world of learning accessible to a broad audience. The editor, in thanking the contributors for their generosity, notes that "the pressures of university life are now in the direction of selfish productivity at the level of pure research." This work, though thoroughly up to date, does seem like the product of another era, when the gap between what scholars wrote and the rest of us read was less stark. It should continue to be the single most heavily used book on classical studies in the reference collections of academic libraries, and it deserves a place in all but the smallest public libraries as well as in high-school libraries where classical studies are at all a part of the curriculum.

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