XENOPHOBIA AND RACISM
Xenofobía y racismo en el Mundo Antiguo (Barcelona: Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona, 2019, 266 pages, 30 euros) edited by Francisco Marco Símon, Francisco Pina Polo, and José Remesal Rodríguez, addresses questions about xenophobia and racism in Antiquity. While recognizing that these are not old concepts, through the analysis of historical and philosophical texts, discourses, and epigraphy, the authors argue that it is possible to find xenophobic and racist practices in these sources, both in the construction of alterity and in the practices to which this alterity was submitted. Factors such as language, ethnicity and religion are mobilized to justify the domination and ridicule of certain populations within the Roman Empire, even by other groups under Roman domination. Finally, the book addresses how contemporary discourses use ancient ideas to justify current racist and xenophobic practices.
In Women and Society in the Roman World: A Sourcebook of Inscriptions from the Roman West (Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 345 pag, $130), Emily Hemelrijk presents a catalog of inscriptions from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD, to investigate what these inscriptions can tell us about women in antiquity. The book is organized into seven thematic chapters, covering topics such as social and family relationships, occupations, religious positions, public affairs, geographic mobility and civic recognition. The author's approach does not focus on a specific social class, but transits between different groups of women, from domestic slaves to empresses, to argue how epigraphy allows accessing interests, social roles, construction of values and how these women chose to be described and remembered.
In Political Conversations in Late Republican Rome (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, 304 pages, hardcover, $100), Cristina Rosillo-López explores the importance of political conversations outside the institutional settings of the Roman Republic. Despite working mostly with sources produced by Cicero and other members of the elites, the author emphasizes the importance of “extra-institutional politics” and the ways in which information and opinions are obtained and discussed outside the official environments of politics, emphasizing how agreements and disagreements depend on social conditions in order to be expressed. She also discusses how people outside the senatorial elites, such as freedmen, enter and circulate in the senatorial circles to advocate for their own interests. At the end of the book, the author has included an appendix with all the mentions of non-senatorial actors mentioned in the sources worked on.
In Class and Power in Roman Palestine. The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. p. 353, $29.99), Anthony Keddie investigates the forms of socio-economic organization in the early Roman domination of Palestine (63 BC-70 AD). Using literary documentation (New Testament and Flavius Josephus), material (tableware, lamps, clothing, mortuary practices), and comparative analyzes with other provinces, Keddie analyzes the changes that have taken place in fields such as urban development, land ownership and organization of the work, taxes, religious economy, and materiality. Thus, he finds that despite small improvements in the living conditions of non-elites, the economic integration into the Empire deepened the inequalities in relation to the elites. By reintroducing issues of class, social distinctions and the agency of non-elites, Keddie points to a reading of the analyzed texts as material contributions to an ideological class shift in the face of inequalities in Roman Palestine.
WOMEN IN POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM
Women's lives, women's voices: Roman material culture and female agency in the Bay of Naples (Austin, University of Texas Press, 2021, 360 pages, US$55) is a collection of studies, edited by Brenda Longfellow and Molly Swetnam-Burland, about the experiences of women from different social groups in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Divided into three thematic sections, the book addresses women’s constructions of public and commercial identities, the ways in which they self-identified and how they were identified by others and, finally, how to understand their experiences through the idealized representations with which they were qualified. With extensive use of material documentation, from the built spaces to graffiti, the authors seek to overcome interpretations that gave women only experiences and expectations as wives and mothers. Therefore, they emphasize the ways in which women act in the relationships they maintain in broader social contexts, carried out through their actions in the family, at work and in religious practices.
In Potters at Work in Ancient Corinth: Industry, Religion, and the Penteskouphia Pinakes (ASCSA, Athens and Princeton, 2022, 448 pages, paperback, $75), Eleni Hasaki analyzes nearly 100 pinakes, decorated clay plaques, which represent scenes of work in potteries, coming from a site in the southwest of Corinth. The author discusses general aspects of the archaeological site and the pinakes, and then discusses what she calls “almost like a visual blog” of the potters’ daily lives: iconography, technology, organization of work and workers, and their religion. For the author, these representations are crucial to understanding the craft and technology of Greek pottery, also illuminating broader aspects of artisan communities in ancient Greece. The book also includes a catalog with the analyzed pinakes.
CULTURAL HISTORY OF WORK
Cultural History of Work in Antiquity (London: Bloomsbury, 2020, 232 pages, £25.99) is the volume dedicated to Antiquity (mostly the Greek-Roman world, between 500 BCE - 450 CE) of Bloomsbury’s six volume series on the Cultural History of Work, which seeks to rethink work beyond the economy. Edited by Ephraim Lytle, the volume follows the organization of the collection, with chapters about the imagery representations of workers, places and forms of cultural organization of the workspace, skills and technologies used in work practice, and the relationship between work and mobility, society, political culture and leisure. The chapters demonstrate, as a whole, an effort to overcome modern theoretical assumptions about ideologies in Antiquity regarding the negative value of the labor practice. Thus, they explore literary and material evidences to understand the ways in which the workers and their work world was organized.
SCENES OF DAILY LIFE
In A guide to scenes of daily life on Athenian vases (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2020, 272 pages, paperback, US$34.95), John Oakley provides an extensive catalog of scenes of everyday life on Athenian vases dated between 630-320 BCE. These scenes were extracted from a variety of ceramic supports, from transportation jars (pithoi) to perfume bottles (lekythoi), fabricated through the three great Attic technical traditions (black-figure, red-figure, and white-ground). The sources are divided in ten thematic chapters, of which it is worth mentioning those that are concerned with the home and work spaces, city and countryside surroundings. This catalogue allows the visualization of forms and shapes of representation of the practices of subaltern groups and gives tools to question their degrees of representativeness and the conditions of production, consumption and use of these figurative objects.
SLAVES IN ANCIENT GREECE
In Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Greece (Cambridge, 2021, 277 p., £18.99), Sara Forsdyke questions what it was like to be a slave in Classical Greece (500-300 BC). Starting from the definition of slavery in Greek thought, Forsdyke then investigates the trajectory of the enslaved from the processes of enslavement, the jobs they performed, and the ethnicities related to specific jobs to their mechanisms of escape and flight, as well as their influence on Greek culture. The investigation is carried out through literary, epigraphic, material, legal and discursive sources, as well as an approach against the grain of documents produced by slave masters. The author argues that we need to understand Greek slavery as a plural and central experience in Greek society so as not to reproduce an incomplete and mystifying image of Ancient Greece itself.
SLAVES IN ROMAN EGYPT
In L’esclave dans l´Égypte romaine : choix de documents traduits et commentés (Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2020, 150 pages, 14 €), Jean Straus presents a selection of sources on slavery in Roman Egypt translated into French by himself and other scholars. Among the 157 sources presented, most are papyrus and ostraka, but literary and epigraphic texts are also included. The volume also offers tools to assist in the consultation and transcription of documents in their original languages, such as the Duke Data Bank of Documentary Papyri, maps of Egypt and of the region of Fayyum, glossary of events, useful terms for understanding the texts, etc. The documents are organized by themes, covering everything from slavery as an institution to the actions, feelings, conflicts and interactions between the enslaved and between enslaved and freeborn people.
In Mulheres nos Cristianismos Paulinos (Rio de Janeiro: Kliné, 2021. R$30,00), Juliana B. Cavalcanti explores the ways in which women participated in the early Christians movements. Her study opposes what the author sees as a multisecular process of silencing women’s actuation in the early Christian communities. Starting from a documentary critique of the Pauline corpus, accompanied by analysis of vocabulary, comparisons with inscriptions and an iconographic inquire, Cavalcanti carries out case studies about the forms in which women were integrated in the dissemination and consolidation of religious knowledge and practices of these early Christianities. Characters such as common women, rich widows and religious leaders like Thecla are present in a narrative that combines history and archaeology.
The People of the Cobra Province in Egypt: A Local History, 4500 to 1500 BC (Oxford, Oxbow Books, 2020, 288 pages, Hardcover, 55 euros), by Wolfram Grajetzki, is a pioneering book in Egyptology for proposing the study from the history of ancient Egypt, between 4500 and 1500 BC, from below. Taking a Marxist approach to writing history, Grajetzki conducts a microhistorical study of the Wadjet province (Cobra), exploring archaeological evidence from the Qau cemetery, as well as local and regional written sources. His aim is to investigate how the working classes of small villages Egyptians lived and were affected by the decisions of the rulers. Last but not least, the author innovates by reflecting on how the contemporary political context and the social origins of Egyptologists have marked the prevailing views in the discipline about the Egyptian past.
MARY AND EARLY CHRISTIAN WOMEN
Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019, 295 pages, hardcover: US$ 31; pdf in open access here), by Ally Kateusz, addresses how studies of Mary, mother of Jesus, tend to place her as a secondary figure and model of female obedience, despite ample evidence in iconography and in apocryphal texts indicating the opposite. Through the analysis of these sources, the author argues how it is possible to identify the protagonism of women, especially Mary, in the first Christian communities, and how their silencing occurred due to the internal conflicts of the church over gender roles and the prejudice of scribes in describing scenes of female protagonism, whether baptizing, preaching or prophesying. Through iconography, the author questions the rise of the Marian cult, placing it prior to canonical dating, and emphasizing Mary as an authority figure and that erasing her as such is political.
Rome’s Sicilian Wars: The Revolts of Eunus and Salvius, 136-132 and 105-100 BC (Pen & Sword Military, 2020, 256 pages, $49,55) is a study by Natale Barca of two slave revolts that took place in Sicily during the late Roman Republic. The first revolt was led by Eunus, a former slave and prophet, and the second by Salvius, a flutist. The revolts were attended by slaves and free people, who proclaimed Eunus and Salvius kings and were brutally repressed by the Roman authorities. Barca discusses the facts of the revolts through the contrast and criticism of the literary documentation, written by Roman elites hostile to them, reconstructs the political and social context of Sicily in the period, and argues that the participants contested the Roman control over the region, what differentiates these revolts from later ones, such as Spartacus’.
FREED SLAVES AND ROMAN CULTURE
In Freed Slaves and Roman Imperial Culture: Social Integration and the Transformation of Values (Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 216 pages, hardcover, $108), Rose MacLean analyzes the strategies employed by freedmen to move socially and how elites react and adapt to these strategies. Using literary and epigraphic sources, the author seeks to contrast the elitist bias of literary sources with those produced by the freedmen themselves. The author also discusses how freedmen cannot be seen in isolation, but in daily interaction with slaves and free people. Finally, the author also analyzes, from the point of view of the freedmen themselves, the practical effects of manumission, such as ruptures, continuities, the impacts on their descendants, and the language chosen by them to talk about themselves.
BEARERS OF LETTERS
In The Bearers of Business Letters in Roman Egypt (Peeters, 2022, 64 p., available at: https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:159492), Paul Shubert investigates letter bearers in Roman Egypt from the 1st to the 3rd century, rescuing some experiences of the common people that made communication over long distances possible in the period. The study is developed from about 2,000 business letters selected by the author, among more than 60.000 letters, because they explicitly or implicitly identify their bearers. Then, in addition to the formal structure of communication, Shubert investigates the carriers' experiences in the transport of letters itself, as well as in other activities and services that they could perform together, such as carriers of different items and money, information, among others.
AT HOME IN ROMAN EGYPT
In At Home in Roman Egypt: a Social Archeology (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2021, 350 pages, hardcover, US$89.83, 2021), Anna Lucille Boozer discusses, through social theory and extensive papyrological and archaeological documentation, the everyday lives of “common people”, especially women and children. Addressing topics such as plays, education, relationships (marriage, divorce, contraceptive methods and abortions), body care, domestic religion, illness and death, the author offers a view of everyday life in Roman Egypt, highlighting transformations and continuities, for example, in mortuary and reproductive practices before, during and after the rise of Christianity. Thus, the author aims to demonstrate how these people are active agents in history and contribute to broader cultural changes.
THE GRACCHI BROTHERS
In La svolta dei Gracchi tra prassi politica e violenza nei reflessione storiografica (Sevilla: Prensa de la Universidade de Zaragoza, 2022, 230 pages, €21.15) Chantal Gabrielli emphasizes that the murder of the Gracchus brothers was interpreted as the cause of the decline of the Roman Republic in the reflections of ancient and modern historians. Starting from this assumption, her objective is to investigate this reflection from different perspectives, focusing, above all, on its legal-institutional aspects. Despite this focus, it is worth noting the importance of the event for discussions about popular mobilization in the period, for example. Regarding this, the author contrasts some normative discourses that she investigates with literary and epigraphic records of popular voices, which sometimes suggest different perceptions about the event.
CLASS AND CHRISTIANITY
In The Struggle Over Class: Socioeconomic Analysis of Ancient Christian Texts (Atlanta: The Society of Biblical Literature, 2021, 472 pages, paperback US$ 61.04), a collection of studies organized by G. Keddie, M. Flexsenhar e S. Friesen, researches on the New Testament e Early Christians seek to critically analyze the socio economic categories used to understand early Christian texts. They test, especially, the different conceptions of “class” (Marxist, Weberian, etc), as well as its relation with other forms of social differentiation (etnic, gender, religion, etc), to comprehend five categories of sources: the epistoles, the Synoptic tradition, John and the Acts, apocalyptical texts and the patristic literature. Using these sources, they investigate how constructions of class identity, divergences and conflicts of that time can be learned from the concepts discussed. The authors also approach themes as the domestic life, slavery, marriage, mortuary practices, work assossiations and religious afiliations.
SLAVERY IN LATE ANTIQUITY
Slavery in the Late Antique World, 150-700 CE (Cambridge University Press, 2022, Hardcover, 359 pages, $120), edited by Chris L. de Wet, Maijastina Kahlos, and Ville Vuolanto, is a collection of studies on the slavery and the living conditions of enslaved people in Late Antiquity in their cultural and geographical variations. The book is the result of the effort of a team made up of members from the United States, South Africa, Europe and Latin America. The authors put into perspective those enslaved in the peripheral regions of the Roman Empire and present comparative historical approaches, sources written in Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, Latin and Greek, and a diversity of inscriptions and papyri. They also discuss the relationship between slavery and social discourses, gender, age group and ethnicity, among other topics. This diversity of themes, approaches and sources makes the work a great introduction to the most recent research on the subject in this specific historical period.
In Illiterate Geography in Classical Athens and Rome (Routledge, 2020, 278 p., hard cover: $128,00 [eBook $39,16]), Daniela Dueck investigates the circulation of geographical knowledge by aural and visual means among the illiterate groups of Athens and Rome in their expansion periods (508-338 BC and 264 BC-14 AD). The documents investigated by the author are oral communications preserved in writing, public and non-textual performances, as well as visual materials, which allow her to access geographic information transmitted beyond the small circles of the literate elites. The book thus demonstrates that much geographic information circulated among the populations of Athens and Rome, stimulating new investigations into the construction and transmission of this knowledge among subaltern groups in the Ancient Mediterranean.
ATHENS AT THE MARGINS
In Athens at the margins: pottery and people in the early Mediterranean world (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2021, 344 pages, $45.00), Nathan Arrington studies the emergence and spread of the Protoatic style in Greek pottery in Athens in the 7th century BCE. His approach starts from the refusal of the “orientalizing” explanatory paradigm and the focus on elite consumption practices. Arrington focuses on the interactions established on the margins and by the marginalized: both geographically (in the contacts between Athens, the Attica and the Mediterranean) and socially (in the relations of production and consumption of objects). To do this, he investigates the material contexts of workshops, necropolises, sanctuaries and symposia. It is worth mentioning his focus on the cooperation between artisans as an explanation for the great stylistic variability of Protoatic ceramics. However, it is worth to pursue his investigation to verify to what extent the experimentation and diversity of objects would be connected with his claims of a lack of cultural hegemony and of an almost sociocultural indistinction between elites and other social actors.
In Manual of Roman Everyday Writing Vol. 2 Writing Equipment (LatinNow ePubs, 2021, e-book, available here), Anna Willi introduces the reader to the writing instruments utilized for the production of handwritten texts in the Roman Empire. The catalog of discussed instruments includes writing utensils (stylus, ink pen, brush) and supports (wood, papyrus, parchment, metals, among others), and many others accessories (such as inks, pen cases, spatula, etc). The catalog is preceded by an introduction of the social aspects of writing and of the writing techniques in the Roman Empire. The author points out the social prestige associated with writing in Roman society, but she also demonstrates how the writing was utilized in a functional way in commercial areas, production centers and military camps by people without a formal education, and not only by men, but also women.
ROMAN CURSIVE WRITING
In Manual of Roman Everyday Writing Vol. 1 Scripts and Texts (LatinNow ePubs, 2021, e-book, available for free download here), Alan Bowman and Alex Mullen present a manual for reading and understanding documents written in Roman cursive, that is, everyday writing. The authors describe the types of documents that use this writing, the main publications with these documents accompanied by links to access. The book also offers practical examples of learning and the uses of writing in different parts of the Roman Empire, demonstrating how people from different social classes learned and used Latin in different ways, whether in ceramic producing centers, in military camps or in the provincial administration.
In this second, revised and expanded edition of Gladiadores na Roma Antiga: dos combates às paixões cotidianas (Curitiba, Ed. UFPR, 2021, 223 pages, 38 reais), Renata Senna Garraffoni maintains the essentials of her investigation into everyday life and popular perceptions of gladiators in the early Roman Principate, through epigraphic, literary and archaeological documentation, but also deepens aspects only hinted at in the previous edition. In particular, there is a greater concern to problematize the ways we construct the past based on the political issues of the present and an openness to gender issues, by investigating the daily life of gladiators through the analysis of perceptions of masculinity in the period. Exploring themes little debated in the historiography about combats, Garraffoni invites us to rethink the Roman past in a more plural way and to “listen to the scattered voices of those who fought in the arenas”.
Who built the pyramids in Egypt? Les papyrus de la mer Rouge II: Le “journal de Dedi” et autres fragments de journaux de bord (Papyrus Jarf C, D, E, F, Aa) (Paris, Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 2021, 312 pages, 49 Euros), by Pierre Tallet, offers new elements to answer this question. Completing the edition of the batch of papyrus discovered in 2013 on the site of the Wadi el-Jarf, the papyrus in this volume are fragments of “logbooks” from the early 4th dynasty that give us access to concrete people involved in the construction of the pyramids, such as Inspector Merer and the scribe Dedi. They show us that the team of workers was divided into four groups, each with 40 men led by an inspector. In addition, they detail the system for transporting the stone blocks from the Tourah limestone mines to Giza. The discovery also reveals that workers were involved in many other activities and were treated as true “elite workers”, even receiving many advantages.
Class Struggle in the New Testament (Lanham, MD, Fortress Academic, 2019, 298 pages, $115), edited by Robert Myles, explores the concepts of “class” and “class struggle” in the biblical studies. Based on the analysis of the texts and traditions that make up the New Testament, the different authors discuss issues such as the usefulness of categories like peasants, servants, and intermediate groups in Jesus' time, collective struggles, the biblical uses of slavery as a metaphor, broader themes like the implications of capitalist ideology on the interpretation of the Bible, among others. The book becomes, in this way, a reference for us to reflect, in a broader way, about the political and economic realities and the social relations and struggles in the Mediterranean of the first century of our era.
RELIGIÃO E ESCRAVIDÃO
Em Religion Romaine et esclavage au Haut-Empire: Rome, Latium et Campanie (Roma: École Française de Rome, 2021. 421 p., €35, disponível online), Bassir Amiri aborda as práticas religiosas dos escravizados no Império romano entre os séculos I a.C. e III d.C. Para além da abordagem de uma exclusão dos escravizados nas performances religiosas, Amiri demonstra as formas e as condições de participação desses atores sociais em contextos como os de sacrifícios públicos, de culto dos uici, nos collegia, familia e rituais mortuários. Com amplo uso de documentação epigráfica e arqueológica em confrontação com fontes literárias, Amiri aponta que não se trata de definir uma religião única dos escravizados, e sim delinear a multiplicidade de relações com os fenômenos religiosos que os escravizados experimentaram em seus contextos mais amplos de sociabilidade, como a casa e a cidade.
In Julius Caesar and the Roman People, (Cambridge University Press, 2021, 690 p., US$ 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.
HISTORY FROM BELOW
Is writing ancient history from below possible? If so, what sources can we use? What methods and approaches can we employ? What concepts are needed for this endeavour? In Ancient History from Below: Subaltern Experiences and Actions in Context (Routledge, 2022, 320 pages, hardcover: 160 euros; eBook: 48.95 euros), edited by Cyril Courrier and Julio Cesar Magalhães de Oliveira, a group of historians and archeologists from different countries seek to respond to these challenges through case studies ranging from classical Greece to Late Antiquity. United by the conviction that the study of the experiences and actions of subaltern groups in Antiquity is not only possible but also necessary, the authors seek new paths for a writing of Ancient History that is at the same time more plural, more inclusive and, by this very reason, more liberating.
SLAVERY AND SEXUALITY
Edited by Deborah Kamen and C.W. Marshall, Slavery and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity (University of Wisconsin Press, 2021, 336 p., US$ 99,95) is a compilation that seeks to intersect sexuality and slavery in Greek and Roman Antiquity. The main question of its 13 chapters is how the sexual practices of the enslaved were inserted in relational contexts of power, dominance and violence. Furthermore, there is the effort of the authors to reach the forms of resistance and spaces of action of the enslaved in these circumstances of domination and sex. Using a variety of sources, like epigraphic, literary, legal, material and artistic representations, they point out the inconsistencies of the discourses of the free owners about their enslaved, and offer ways to perceive the subjectivity, struggles, traumas and sexual desires of those who were enslaved.
In De Escravos a Benfeitores: os libertos e a munificência na Hispania Romana (São Carlos, Pedro & João Editores, 2021, 211 pages, R$30), Filipe Noé da Silva investigates how freedmen in the Roman province of Baetica showed generosity to their cities as a way to ensure another social reputation, breaking with their past of slavery. The study focuses on the first and second centuries CE and has as its corpus both the epigraphic records and some texts of the manuscript tradition, such as the writings of Pliny the Younger and Cicero. This way, the author approaches a practice common to the rich and notable locals of Hellenistic and imperial Roman cities of material investment in their cities to ensure the recognition of the community, but he does this from an original and instigating perspective: that of a subaltern group that, even deprived of full rights, knew how to act to minimise the consequences of their past slavery.
LABOUR AND IDENTITY
In The Dignity of Labour: Image, Work and Identity in the Roman World (Chalford: Amberley Publishing, 2021. 288 p., £20, Hardback), Iain Ferris presents how the artistic representations of Roman crafts and workers were used as means for identity construction and negotiation of social status in the Roman world. Written for a large audience, Ferris analyses several material evidences from the Roman West, especially inscriptions and mortuary monuments, which represented the occupations of mainly urban workers, within a broad chronological frame, from the Republic to Late Empire. It is a good introduction for the self-representation identity theme and for the debate of forms of attachment and distinction realized by workers from diverse economic conditions over time within Roman social structures.
100 textos de História Antiga (Editora Contexto, 2021, Paperback, 160 p., R$ 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 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.
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.
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.