Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks

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9780674063808: Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks
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In this richly illustrated account of black-white contacts from the Pharaohs to the Caesars, Frank Snowden demonstrates that the ancients did not discriminate against blacks because of their color. For three thousand years Mediterranean whites intermittently came in contact with African blacks in commerce and war, and left a record of these encounters in art and in written documents. The blacks--most commonly known as Kushites, Ethiopians, or Nubians--were redoubtable warriors and commanded the respect of their white adversaries. The overall view of blacks was highly favorable. In science, philosophy, and religion color was not the basis of theories concerning inferior peoples. And early Christianity saw in the black man a dramatic symbol of its catholic mission.

This book sheds light on the reasons for the absence in antiquity of virulent color prejudice and for the difference in attitudes of whites toward blacks in ancient and modern societies.

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Review:

Further developing the themes he so eloquently outlines in Blacks in Antiquity, Frank M. Snowden Jr. continues his investigations into attitudes towards Africans in the classical civilizations of Rome and Greece. Snowden identifies the African blacks from Egypt, Nubia (the modern Sudan), Ethiopia, and Carthage (Tunisia), discussing their interactions--including intermarriage--with the Greco-Romans. (He also notes that many of the artistic representations of these people resemble present-day African Americans.) From the trade missions of the Egyptian dynasties to their conquest of the Mediterranean and ultimate downfall at the hands of the Romans, Snowden unravels a complex history of cultural exchanges that went on for several millennia in which racial prejudice was not a factor. "There was a clear-cut respect among the Mediterranean peoples for Ethiopians and their way of life," he writes, "and above all, the ancients did not stereotype blacks as primitives defective in religion and culture." --Eugene Holley Jr.

About the Author:

Frank M. Snowden Jr., is Professor of Classics, Howard University.

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9780674063815: Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks

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ISBN 10:  0674063813 ISBN 13:  9780674063815
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 1991
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