It’s no wonder that the Mediterranean basin—centered on the world’s largest inland sea, blessed by a subtropical climate, and host to nurturing rivers—gave birth to several ancient civilizations. What many don’t realize, however, is that the Mediterranean’s pre-classical history was just as rich as its geography, and just as instrumental in priming the region for success.
In the first book of The Iliad, Homer calls for a muse to help him recount the story of Achilles, the epic Greek hero of the Trojan War. The poet begins his account nine years after the start of Trojan war, with the capture of two maidens, Chryseis by Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaean Army, and Briseis by the hero Achilles.
By Paul Cartledge
In 2006 the Frank Miller-Zack Snyder bluescreen epic ‘300’ was a box office smash. The Battle of Thermopylae – fought between a massive Persian invading army and a very much smaller Greek force led by King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans in a narrow pass at the height of summer 480 BC – had never been visualised quite like that before.
While The Iliad is a fictional tale of the Trojan War between the Trojan and Achaean warriors during the Late Bronze Age (circa 1500-1200 BC), it is set in a real location: the eastern Mediterranean, along the Aegean Sea. We present a brief slideshow of maps from Barry B. Powell’s new translation of the ancient epic, which illustrate the geographic regions mentioned, from towns and cities, to character origins, and even allied battle grounds.
By Andrew Pettinger
I was recently invited by Oxford University Press (OUP) to have my book, The Republic in Danger, published on the online open access library OAPEN. After a few general questions, I happily accepted. Why?
By Philip Mackowiak
It has been said that the only persons who refer to themselves as “we” are royalty, college professors, and those with worms. In the 4 September 2013 issue of the Lancet, Piers Mitchell and colleagues present evidence that Richard III, one of England’s best known medieval kings and the deformed villain of Shakespeare’s Richard III, had two reasons for referring to himself in the first person plural.
Earlier this year, Oxford University Press (OUP) published The Throne of Adulis by G.W. Bowersock, as part of Oxford’s Emblems of Antiquity Series, commissioned by the editor Stefan Vranka from the New York office. It was especially thrilling that Professor Bowersock agreed to write a volume, as it represents a homecoming of sorts for the noted classics scholar, who began his career with OUP in 1965 with the monograph Augustus and the Greek World.
The historic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 may have buried Pompeii and Herculaneum under a thick carpet of volcanic ash, but it preserved what is surely our most valuable archaeological record of daily life in Ancient Rome to date.
An inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis offers us a rare window into the fateful events comprising what has come to be known as the “Red Sea Wars.”
By Justine McConnell
The death of Martin Bernal in June attracted less media attention than one might have hoped for the man who brought an unprecedented attention to the contemporary study of Classics. His 1987 work, Black Athena, was not the first to argue for a strong, pervasive African influence on the culture of ancient Greece, but it was the first to receive widespread notice.
The World Championships in Athletics takes place this month in Moscow. Since 1983 the championship has grown in size and now includes around 200 participating countries and territories, giving rise to the global prominence of athletics. The Ancient Greeks were some of the earliest to begin holding competitions around athletics, with each Greek state competing in a series of sporting events in the city of Olympia once every four years.
By David Potter
July is a month of historic anniversaries. The Fourth of July and Bastille Day celebrate moments that have shaped the modern world. No less important is the 25th of July. This Thursday will mark the 1707th anniversary of Constantine’s accession to the throne of part of the Roman Empire.
The International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama held annually in Cyprus during the month of July. Since its beginning in 1996, the festival has reimagined performances from the great Ancient Greek playwrights, so we dug into J.C. McKeown’s A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities for some of the lesser known facts about Ancient Greek theatre.
In 479 BCE, ancient city-state rivals, the Spartans and Athenians, joined in alliance against Persia, 50 years before the infamous Peloponnesian War. Together, they took the Oath of Plataea, revealing deep-seated anxieties about how the defeat would be remembered in history… and to whom the credit would fall.
For centuries, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World have captivated scholars as some of the most magnificent – and last remaining – representations of classical antiquity. Of those seven, the Hanging Garden of Babylon has particularly intrigued scholars, due in large part to the ambiguity surrounding its physical construction, geographical location, and enduring architectural legacy.
By Stephanie Dalley
I once gave a general talk about ancient Mesopotamian gardens, and was astonished, when I prepared for it, to find that there was really no hard evidence for the Hanging Garden at Babylon, although all the other wonders of the ancient world certainly did exist.