The well-known classical historian sheds light on the customs and conduct of everyday life by the common people--citizens, slaves, freedmen, foreigners--of the Greek and Roman cities, as well as those who were outside observers of the classical civilizations.
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Grant has written some 22 books on the ancient world--a substantial contribution to education. Now, from his vast resources, comes this brief survey of Greek and Roman society. Selected topics in 118 pages of text include women, rich and poor men, serfs, and slaves. The remaining pages, squandered on notes, dates, and appendixes, even include a discussion of Karl Marx! Athenian women citizens are judged with contemporary myopia and an important subject like homosexuality receives scant notice. Robert B. Kebric's Greek People (Mayfield, 1989) offers a more comprehensive and enjoyable treatment of society, including its entertainments and mores; and his Roman People is just out from Mayfield. History Book Club alternate. Grant's compendium of readings from the ancient historians presents an even greater disappointment. Selections (many only snippets) from 23 authors (Hecataeus to Ammianus Marcellinus, translated by various hands) are sketchily introduced; passages are arranged not according to the dates of events but, confusingly, by the chronology of the authors' lives. Without a substantive, historical narrative to elucidate, how meaningful can these excerpts be for the intended audience? A mystifying collection for those who do not know ancient historiography; for those who do, an exasperating one, since literary masterpieces have been manipulated to serve an unfulfilled purpose.
- Robert J. Lenardon, Siena Coll., Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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