Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Scenes from The Iliad in ancient art

Given its central role in Ancient Greek culture, various poignant moments in Homer’s The Iliad can be found on the drinking cups, water jars, mixing bowls, vases, plates, jugs, friezes, mosaics, and frescoes of ancient art. Each depiction dramatizes an event in the epic poem in a different way (sometimes inaccurately).

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Gods and mythological creatures in The Iliad in ancient art

Homer’s The Iliad is filled with references to the gods and other creatures in Greek mythology. The gods regularly interfere with the Trojan War and the fate of various Achaean and Trojan warriors. In the following slideshow, images from Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Iliad by Homer illustrate the gods’ various appearances and roles throughout the epic poem.

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Ancient Syria: trouble-prone and politically volatile

By Trevor Bryce
I have long been fascinated with Syria. Like other Middle Eastern regions, it has many layers of civilization and has seen many conquerors and raiders tramp and gallop through its lands over the centuries. That of course has been the fate of lots of countries, ancient and modern.

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Lost writings of Latin literature

By Peter Knox and J.C. McKeown
Once upon a time, the Greek city of Cyrene on the coast of Libya grew prosperous through the export of silphium, a plant much used in cookery and medicine. But then the farmers learned that there was more money to be made through rearing goats.

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Echoes of The Iliad through history

The Iliad was largely believed to belong to myth and legend until Heinrich Schliemann set out to prove the true history behind Homer’s epic poem and find the remnants of the Trojan War. The businessman turned archaeologist excavated a number of sites in Greece and Turkey, and caused an international sensation.

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An interview with Barry B. Powell on his translation of The Iliad

Every generation and culture needs its own version of The Iliad — one that capture the spirit of the original for a contemporary audience, whether Alexander Pope’s rhymed verse of the 18th century or dense Dickensian prose of 19th-century translations. Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of The Iliad was written with the modern English speaker in mind, and with the idea that the language Homer uses was colloquial and accessible to his contemporaries.

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Characters from The Iliad in ancient art

The ancient Greeks were enormously innovative in many respects, including art and architecture. They produced elaborate illustrations on everything from the glory of the Parthenon to a simple wine cup. Given its epic nature and crucial role in Greek education, many of the characters in the Iliad can be found in ancient art. From the hero Achilles to Hector’s charioteer, these depictions provide great insight into Greek culture and art.

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Illuminating the Mediterranean’s pre-history

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.

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A call to the goddess

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.

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The Battle of Thermopylae and 300

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.

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Maps of The Iliad

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.

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Participating in the OAPEN program

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?

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King Richard’s worms

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.

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Bowersock and OUP from 1965 to 2013

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.

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The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum

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.

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