The acts of the apostles called "apocrypha" are those that were not included in the biblical canon, but they circulated freely in the early Christian communities. Valtair Afonso Miranda brings to Portuguese the Atos Apócrifos de Pedro (São Paulo, Paulus, 2019, 96 pages, 19 reais). It is an interesting source for the study of popular culture and subalterns in the Christian communities of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The text is marked by the strong presence of miraculous, folk and unusual situations, such as a talking dog that walks on two legs and the resurrection of a smoked fish, as well as people in situations of social adversity, widowed and adulterous women, poor and destitute in general. This edition would have much to gain with a direct translation from the original source and a bilingual format, though.


In Ancient Greek and Roman Slavery (Malden, Wiley, 2018, 296 pages, paperback, 36.25 dollars), Peter Hunt starts from the centrality of slavery as an institution in antiquity and an object of reflection in modernity and contemporaneity to introduce the reader to the most discussed issues on the subject. The book is built from a comparative approach between ancient Greece and Rome that deals with the relationship between slavery and the economy, politics, society and culture through a wide range of evidences, going from historiography to epigraphy. Among the themes introduced, Hunt is not limited to the norms and the place of slaves in Greco-Roman societies, but also explores their possibilities of action, the “weapons of the weak” that allowed them to resist daily social oppression.


In A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity (New Jersey, Wiley, 2018, $ 37.99 e-book; $ 46.75, p. xxix + 285), Douglas Boin explores multiple issues about Late Antiquity “from the bottom up”, with the concern of integrating them into broader social frameworks. Boin goes through themes as diverse as social mobility, urban life, political organization, family ties, community formation and religiosities, always seeking to establish a dialogue between past and present and discussing the political and power issues involved in these themes. From a diverse range of sources, we are introduced to a historic narrative of people, groups, objects and ideas that intertwine in the Mediterranean from the end of the 3rd century to the beginning of the 8th.


What do the graffiti tell us about how Pompeii women acted and what did they think? What does the reaction of Jesus' disciples seeing him talking to a woman tell us about gender relations in early Christian communities? These and other issues are addressed in Mulheres, Gênero e Estudos Clássicos: um diálogo entre Espanha e Brasil (Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona; Curitiba: UFPR, 2020, 370 pages, 180 reais), organized by Renata Senna Garraffoni and Manel García Sanchez. The authors deal with gender relations in Ancient Greece and Rome and their representations, contributing to the advancement of studies on women from a critical view of their marginalization in traditional historical narratives.


In The Brothel of Pompeii: sex, class and gender at the margins of Roman Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019, 266 pages, 95 dollars), Sarah Levin-Richardson examines the archaeological ruins of a brothel - the so-called Lupanare - which functioned in the city of Pompeii. At first, Levin-Richardson reconstructs and gives life to the Lupanare based on the analysis of architecture, decoration, objects and graffiti from the place. Then, she explores the experiences - social, physical and emotional - of both the prostitutes and the brothel's clientele. The Brothel of Pompeii will be of interest especially for those who want to know the history of Roman prostitution from the point of view of women, slaves, workers and other subordinate groups.


Apuleius' Golden Ass [O Asno de Ouro] (transl. Ruth Guimarães, introduction by Adriane da Silva Duarte, São Paulo, Editora 34, 2019, 480 pages, 88 reais)  is the only Latin novel from Antiquity to survive in full today. It narrates the misfortunes of young Lucius, who, paying the price of his curiosity for magic, is turned into a donkey, but without losing his intelligence. Abducted by a band of bandits and later passing by several owners, this unsuspecting observer describes the lives of men and women from all walks of life, including the subaltern and marginalized groups little portrayed in ancient literature. This bilingual edition, with the original Latin text and the Portuguese translation by Ruth Guimarães, has also an excellent introduction by Adriane da Silva Duarte.


Could a slave in Rome get married? Were the Romans macho? How did Roman women cultivate friendship? These and other questions are the themes of Roma Antiga: Histórias que você sempre quis saber (São Paulo: Fonte Editorial, 2019, 142 pages, no price), the new book by Pedro Paulo Funari and Filipe Silva. The authors present, in a light and pleasant way, a series of stories about the Roman world, many of them about the subordinates, the common people. Popular riddles, voters' jokes, Roman flirting, wine, clothes and latrines are just some of the themes in this book that can serve as a good starting point for all those who want to know a little about everyday life in ancient Rome.


A People's History of Classics, by Edith Hall and Henry Stead (London and New York, Routledge, 2020, 670 pages, 26.39 pounds, paperback) explores the influence of classical antiquity on the lives of working class people in Britain and Ireland from the late 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Using several published and unpublished sources of information in archives, museums and libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Hall and Stead examine the experience of classical culture in the working class, from the 1689 Bill of Rights to the outbreak of World War II. As the authors show, classical education does not have to be elitist or reactionary. If it was often the curriculum of the empire, the interest of the workers and the workers' movement in the classics shows us that it can also be the curriculum of liberation.



Popular Culture in the Ancient World (ed. Lucy Grig, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, x + 369 pages, $ 110), is the first book to offer an interdisciplinary study of the subject. A group of scholars from various countries in this book faces a fascinating range of themes and objects: from oracles to dressing, from toys to theological speculation. After a substantive introduction, 13 chapters follow on from classical Greece to the Roman Empire and even Late Antiquity. The book goes beyond the traditional views of popular culture associated with "bread and circus" and shows, on the contrary, all its wealth and diversity.


In Fábulas, seguido do Romance de Esopo, a book published by Editora 34 (São Paulo, 2017, 280 pages, 55 reais), André Malta and Adriane da Silva Duarte bring together two works translated from ancient Greek: a collection of 75 fables by Aesop and his romanticized biography. The fables remind us of a popular morality that dates back to archaic and classical Greece. Aesop's Romance, written in the 2nd century AD, under the Roman Empire, puts on the scene, in a fun narrative, a farming slave, promoted to a philosopher's domestic slave and who gains freedom thanks to his cunning and the use of word in public. Like few ancient literary texts, the Fables and Aesop's Romance allow us to glimpse something of the voices, life and culture of subordinates in antiquity.


Narrativa e cultura popular no Cristianismo primitivo (São Paulo, Paulus, 2018, 152 pages, 29 reais), Paulo Nogueira's new book, invites the reader to enter the universe of the first Christians through an exercise of strangeness, by analyzing their forms of literary expression in their broadest context. Starting from the hypothesis that Early Christianity has deep connections with the popular culture of the ancient Mediterranean, the author explores three levels in which popular themes and ways of narrating are developed in the narratives known as Acts of Paul, Acts of John and Acts of Philip. Walking between folklore and orality, the monstrous and the grotesque, these narratives open doors for thinking about Early Christianity in its own context and not just in terms of its future.


In Slave Theatre in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, xvi + 563 pages, $ 37.99), Amy Richlin proposes a radical reinterpretation of the theatre attributed to Plautus (3rd century BC) as a gender written by and for slaves and the poor. In the first part, the author shows how Plautus' theatre plays with the concerns of this audience (such as uprooting, physical punishment, sexual abuse, hunger and poverty). In the second part, she catalogs the theatrical expressions of subordinate aspirations (such as the desire for revenge, honour, freedom, manumission and flight). Controversial and provocative, the book is a significant contribution to studies on Plautus' theatre and the culture of slaves and poor free persons in the Roman Republic.

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