RELIGION AND SLAVERY
In Religion Romaine et esclavage au Haut-Empire: Rome, Latium et Campanie (Roma: École Française de Rome, 2021. 421 p., €35, available online), Bassir Amiri addresses the religious practices of the enslaved in the Roman Empire between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. Instead of taking for granted an exclusion of the enslaved in the religious performances, Amiri demonstrates the conditions and forms of involvement of these social actors in contexts like public sacrifices, the cult of uici, in the collegia, familia, and mortuary rituals. With an extensive use of epigraphic and archaeological records in confronting with literary sources, Amiri presents that this is not about defining a single religion of the enslaved, but rather outlining the multiplicity of relations with the religious phenomena that the enslaved experienced in their broader contexts of sociability, such as the domus and the city.
In Julius Caesar and the Roman People, (Cambridge University Press, 2021, 690 p., US$ 59.99, Hardback) Robert Morstein-Marx tries to give back the republican historical character of Julius Caesar. For this the author starts from the understanding that the Roman Republic was not an oligarchy, but a republican participatory political order, in which the People were partners with the aristocracy in directing political events as well as in determining what the Republic was and should be. This knowledge of the Roman plebs’ power allows to question and to undermine teleological interpretations about Caesar's invariable autocratic aspiration and, therefore, about the inevitable end of the Republic. Thus Morstein-Marx demonstrates that in a regime that combined popular power with aristocratic achievement the choices and relations woven by Caesar were representative of the Roman republican traditions of leadership.
Antonio Gramsci and the Ancient World (Routledge, 2021, 402 pages, US$ 160 [Ebook: US$ 44,05]), edited by Emilio Zucchetti and Anna Maria Cimino, brings together essays on the relationship between the work of the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci and Greco-Roman antiquity. The authors analyze themes from Archaic Greece to Late Antiquity in the light of Gramscian conceptions, the receptions of his theories between classicists and antiquists and Gramsci's own reflections on aspects of Greco-Roman history. For scholars of Ancient History “from below”, the book presents an important thinker for the development of this approach in History in general, also demonstrating the innovative ways in which his theories help to ask questions to ancient documents using this perspective.
In Historicising Ancient Slavery (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2021, 280 pages,
£85.00), Kostas Vlassopoulos studies the phenomenon of slavery and its centrality to the studies of
Greek and Roman societies in Antiquity. By rising up against trends that attribute to ancient slavery
an ahistorical, typological character, understood only from the perspective of the masters,
Vlassopoulos proposes a historicist and procedural study of slavery, which intends to demonstrate
how the phenomenon has changed over time and how it developed in different locations. In
addition, the author seeks to understand slavery also from the perspective of the enslaved, focusing
on how they conceived their experiences and how they built their own identities based on the
relationships with their masters, with free citizens and with other enslaved.
THE RURAL POOR
The Roman Peasant Project 2009-2015: Excavating the Roman Rural Poor (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021, 824 pages, US$ 120), edited by Kim Bowes and divided into two volumes, presents the results of an innovative archaeological project, specifically aimed at understanding the lives of the rural poor in ancient Italy. Conducted by an Italian-American team in Cinigiano, in Tuscany, between 2009 and 2015, the project addressed different aspects of peasantry life between the 2nd BC and 6th AD centuries: the land uses, diets, markets and mobility. The results offer a more complex view of the Roman peasants than suggested by the written documents or by the dominant models, revealing sophisticated land use systems, access to consumer goods, but also the constant movement of these populations.
In Religião e Poder no Cristianismo Primitivo (São Paulo, Paulus, 2020, 208 pages, R$27), Paulo Nogueira studies the religious experience of the early Christians through the Jewish apocalyptic, the gospels, the Book of Revelations, the Greek Magical Papyri and written amulets. The author situates the social and cultural context of the production of these sources, investigating community formations of the first Christians through them. Trips to the heavenly court, glossolalia and transfiguration accounts are viewed by the author as constitutive experiences of the Christian groups and their spirituality which influenced their relations with institutions, with other religions and among themselves. The author also discusses the identity of the early Christians through biblical passages and their daily lives based on religious symbols.
In The Roman Retail Revolution: The Socio-Economic World (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018, 320 pages, hardcover, US$85), Steven J. R. Ellis argues, based of a rich archaeological documentation, centered in Pompeii, but with sources from the cities of all the Roman world, how the commerce established in shops in front of the streets becomes a striking part of the Roman urban experience. In the process studied, going from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd CE, he points out three successive “revolutions”: the installation of the stores, or tabernae, their specializations and diffusion throughout the Empire. Thus, more than focusing on exchanges at the macro level, Ellis demonstrates the impacts of retail businesses on the daily urban experience and on the lives of the popular.
In Greco-Roman sources, enslaved people were often described as unreliable, capable of telling the truth only under torture. In Slavery, Gender, Truth, and Power in Luke-Acts and Other Ancient Narratives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, XXIV, 247 pages, hard cover, €83,19 [Ebook Kindle, €66,99]), Christy Cobb puts in perspective three enslaved women from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles to analyze, despite their status and gender, their narrative function as truth tellers, confirming Luke's theology to power in different circumstances. This analysis is carried out based on Bakhtin's theory and a feminist approach, as well as by the correlation of the characters with other enslaved women described in the Apocryphal Acts, in the ancient novels and represented in funerary monuments. In general, the author seeks to demonstrate how these marginalized voices contradict old perceptions, breaking conventional hierarchies.
GREECE AND ROME
In this new edition of Grécia e Roma (Editora Contexto, 2020, 153 pages, 35 reais), Pedro Paulo Funari presents, in a didactic way, an overview of Greek and Roman cultures, from their origins to their influence in our own society. Using archaeological, epigraphic and literary sources, the author addresses great themes, such as political organisation and conflicts, but also explores the way people lived and related to each other. Funari examines differences between elites and ordinary people, organisation and social mobility, the different ways of seeing and treating slaves (or, in the case of Sparta, the helots, who were not slaves but subjected workers), women and children, sexuality, art and religion. The author questions some concepts and offers a wide range of sources that can serve as a basis for further research, including for those interested in the studies of subaltern groups.
LABOUR AND IDENTITY
In The Dignity of Labour: Image, Work and Identity in the Roman World (Chalford: Amberley Publishing, 2021. 288 p., £20, Hardback), Iain Ferris presents how the artistic representations of Roman crafts and workers were used as means for identity construction and negotiation of social status in the Roman world. Written for a large audience, Ferris analyses several material evidences from the Roman West, especially inscriptions and mortuary monuments, which represented the occupations of mainly urban workers, within a broad chronological frame, from the Republic to Late Empire. It is a good introduction for the self-representation identity theme and for the debate of forms of attachment and distinction realized by workers from diverse economic conditions over time within Roman social structures.
100 textos de História Antiga (Editora Contexto, 2021, Paperback, 160 p., R$ 37), edited by Jaime Pinsky, is republished in a new, commemorative edition, of the classic collection of sources from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, from Classical Greece and the Empire Roman translated into Brazilian Portuguese in the 1960s. The work is of great importance in the teaching of Ancient History in Brazil as it allows teachers and students access to documents, until then, available only in the original languages and in translations into English and the French. The sources are organized by themes, stimulating comparative analysis, and deal with diverse subjects ranging from political transformations to slavery, family structure and the role of women, making them of equal interest, therefore, to scholars of subaltern groups in Antiquity
Em Defesa de Milão (Archeditora, 2021, 216 pages, paper back, R$54,90), translated for the first time to Brazilian Portuguese by Marlene Borges, is a speech given by Cicero in favor of Milan, consul candidate sent in exile for the assassination of Publius Clodius, the most radical of the popular politicians in the last century of the Roman Republic. Borges also includes the translation of a comment by Asconius that opposes Cicero's rhetoric. As a whole, the two texts allow us to discuss the political engagement in the late Republic. They illuminate the circumstances that led to the assassination of Clodius and the popular commotion that it unleashed in the city of Rome, expressed in revolts that resulted, among other things, in the fire of the Senate house. This bilingual edition Latin-Portuguese includes an Introduction on the narrated events and aspects of Cicero's rhetoric, as well as the translator's notes.
In The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the garden: religion at the roman Street Corner (Princeton University Press, 2017, 416 pages, $45.00/£38.00), Harriet Flower is dedicated to the
study of the lares, protective deities of places, represented in a festive atmosphere and in pairs, dancing in short robes and pouring wine. Through literary, archaeological and epigraphic sources from sites in Greece and Italy, Harriet Flower studies the cult of Lares in their different representations and functions, and invites the reader to discover the world of the Roman’s popular religiosity, exercised on street corners and domestic altars, present at different stages of life. Thus,
she demonstrates the process of building a sense of community within subaltern Roman groups through religious practices.
In Carving a Professional Identity. The occupational epigraphy of the Latin West (Oxford, Archaeopress, 2021, 119 p., £25.00), Rada Varga studies social relations in Western Roman provinces through self-representations of workers in epigraphic records, between the first and third centuries AD. Through of a qualitative and quantitative analysis, focused on occupations, spatial distribution and the forms of monuments, Varga analyzes the identity specificities of each professional category. In the end, there is an extensive catalog with all epigraphic records used, with names, profession, province and dating. Each record also counts on indication to your entry into the Romans 1by1 database, with free access, where you can explore more details and bibliographies about each particular registration.
DISABILITIES AND DISABLED
In Disabilities and Disabled in the Roman World: A Social and Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, hard cover, 248 pages, US$99,99), Christian Laes starts with contemporary definitions of physical and mental disabilities, analyzing social experiences and cultural perceptions about people with these characteristics in the Roman Empire. Investigating written documents, image representations and human bones, Laes discusses mental and cognitive deficiencies, blindness, deafness, difficulties in speaking and mobility from different people in the period. The book presents a synthesis of medical, philosophical and patristic treatments and discourses, of the everyday experiences and the chances of survival of people with disabilities in the Roman world, stimulating new studies on the subject.
COLONIZATION AND SUBALTERNITY
In Colonization and Subalternity in Classical Greece: Experience of the Nonelite Population (Cambridge University Press, 2017, paperback, US$34.99), Gabriel Zuchtriegel reconstructs the experiences of subaltern populations in the Greek colonies of the classical period (5th and 4th centuries BCE). This study is carried out by archaeological data, literary documents and epigraphic sources analyzed together and illuminated by a post-colonial theory that includes socioeconomic, but also ethnic and gender reasons in the processes of subordination. In addition to illuminating the Greek colonial world in an innovative way, the book is also fundamental for addressing some of the main problems involved in the study of subalterns in the Ancient Mediterranean.
In Life and Death in the Roman Suburb (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020, 304 pages, hard cover, US$69,53 [Ebook Kindle, US$66,05]), Allison Emmerson starts from the conflicting relationship between funerary monuments and urban spaces in Roman cities to investigate the material characteristics and, therefore, human activities developed in the extra-wall spaces, the suburbs. Spanning the suburbs of dozens of cities on the Italian peninsula, Emmerson understands them as more than interludes between rural and urban worlds, observing the coexistence between tombs and dwellings, taverns, workshops and shops without any paradox (in contrast to the walled city limits). The image of the suburbs that emerges, therefore, is of microcosms whose dead are present, but who are also full of life; characteristics that allow us to reflect on the interactions between different people and activities, from different social strata and characteristics, even if these interactions and activities are not necessarily the focus of the study.
Daily Life in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, x + 250 pages, £21.78), by Kristina Sessa, is a book about routine practices and experiences of different social groups in the late Roman Empire. In it, the reader is led to understand the rhythms that constituted the rural and urban worlds, the composition of poor and wealthy families and houses, the relationships maintained with the bodies, from medical care to clothing, the religious practices and rituals, and ways in which the Empire made itself present in the lives of its inhabitants. Sessa integrates and correlates elements generally addressed separately, such as countryside and city, poor and rich, in order to always demonstrate the fluid character of these interactions, while underlying the existing power relations. Written for a wide audience, with a rich and diversified use of sources, the book is a great gateway to debates about the daily life in Late Antiquity.
In Slave-Wives, Single Women and “Bastards” in the Ancient Greek World: Law and Economics Perspectives (Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books, 2018, 224 pages, paperback, 38 euros), Morris Silver analyzes extensive literary and epigraphic documentation to understand the legal and economic situation of Greek women in relation to marriage. In particular, he investigates wives with slave status and unmarried women. In the first case, the author emphasizes the freedom they enjoyed to manage their homes in the absence of their husbands and the ability to accumulate wealth for themselves and their heirs. In the second case, contrary to a view that necessarily understood them as prostitutes, he observes the dedication of many of them to textile production and trade. In general, Silver presents a dynamic view of the situation of Greek women in relation to marriage.
Leandro Dorval Cardoso traz para o português uma das mais conhecidas peças do dramaturgo romano Plauto (século III a.C.), O Anfitrião (São Paulo, Editora Autêntica, 2020, 176 páginas, R$ 54,90). Farsa mitológica sobre o nascimento de Hércules, ela conta como Júpiter assume a forma de Anfitrião, comandante do exército tebano, durante sua ausência para passar uma noite com Alcmena, sua esposa, desencadeando confusões em seu retorno. Em sua trajetória, Anfitrião é acompanhado pelo seu escravo Sósia, cujo protagonismo é marcante na peça. Por meio de Sósia, podemos vislumbrar aspectos da escravidão romana que vão desde a opinião pública sobre como um escravo deveria se comportar até os temores e as aspirações dos escravos, sempre presentes em suas falas. A edição possui formato bilíngue Latim-Português e a tradução, poética e rítmica, é direta do original.
In Sociedade e Cultura na África Romana: oito ensaios e duas traduções (São Paulo: Intermeios, 2020, 252 pages, 55 reais), Julio Cesar Magalhães de Oliveira presents the history of North Africa from the Roman conquest to Late Antiquity from below, emphasizing the experiences of shepherds, soldiers, peasants and the history of Christianity. This story is analyzed in the eight essays that compose the book, which also brings the commented translation of sources, one epigraphic and another from the manuscript tradition, previously unpublished in Portuguese. During the essays, in dialogue with recent debates on the meaning of popular actions in the period, Magalhães de Oliveira correlates some of the ways and means of these actions, expressed in peasant protests and religious conflicts, with the conditions derived from the integration of Africa to the structures of the Roman Empire. Combined with erudition and analytical rigor, the book is marked by a fluid language, making it accessible to a wide audience.
Em Public Opinion and Politics in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017 [capa mole, 2020], xii+270 páginas, 39,99 dólares), Cristina Rosillo-López investiga os mecanismos de funcionamento da opinião pública na República Romana Tardia como parte da política informal. A autora explora a interação e a oposição política entre a elite e o povo por meios como os rumores, as fofocas, a literatura política, os versos populares e os grafites. Ela propõe a existência de uma esfera pública no período, analisa a opinião pública como um sistema de controle e estuda a sociabilidade e os encontros informais nos quais a opinião pública circulava. O que emerge deste estudo é um conceito de participação política do povo que não é mais restrita às eleições ou à participação nas assembleias.
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.
WOMEN AND GENDER
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.
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 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.
HISTORIES OF ROME
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.