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In their fathers’ power

Jasper Griffin, 15 October 1987

A History of Private Life. Vol. I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium 
edited by Paul Veyne.
Harvard, 670 pp., £24.95, May 1987, 0 674 39975 7
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The Roman World 
edited by John Wacher.
Routledge, 2 pp., £100, March 1987, 0 7100 9975 4
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The Roman Empire: Economy, Society and Culture 
edited by Peter Garnsey and Richard Saller.
Duckworth, 231 pp., £24, March 1987, 0 7156 2145 9
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Sexual Life in Ancient Egypt 
by Lisa Manniche.
KPI, 127 pp., £15, June 1987, 0 7103 0202 9
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... unchallenged superiority of the well-born.’ Those epigrammatic generalisations, from the pens of Paul Veyne and Peter Brown, are fairly typical of the History of Private Life at its best: a book which makes the reader think, teasing and encouraging with spicy details, long views, a capacity for the unexpected insight. Now for something completely ...

Nothing beside remains

Josephine Quinn: The Razing of Palmyra, 25 January 2018

Palmyra: An Irreplaceable Treasure 
by Paul Veyne, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 88 pp., £17, April 2017, 978 0 226 42782 9
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... Syrian and Russian forces reoccupied the site in March. Ancient Palmyra now lies in ruins. Paul Veyne’s short, angry eulogy is dedicated to Khaled al-Asaad. Much of the book is a revision of an introduction to Palmyra Veyne first published 17 years ago, and it isn’t the place to find the latest specialist ...

Qui êtes-vous, Sir Moses?

C.R. Whittaker, 6 March 1986

Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... influence of Durkheim with its special emphasis on structures. Both Raymond Aron and more recently Paul Veyne admit the influence of the sociological methods of Dilthey, Simmel and Weber in underscoring the specificity of historical events. In De la Connaissance Historique H.-I. Marrou attacks the narrow concept of what constitutes historical ...

Wrong Kind of Noise

Marina Warner: Silence is Best, 19 December 2013

Silence: A Christian History 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 337 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 84614 426 4
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... awkwardness shows, I feel, in the phrase ‘family business’. A few decades ago the classicist Paul Veyne asked: ‘Did the Greeks believe in their myths?’ It’s a sharp contemporary question that the secular world puts to Christians, and to other religious followers. Rising secularisation on the one hand and combative congregations of different ...


Marina Warner: Airborne Females, 30 August 2018

Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics and Other Airborne Females 
by Serinity Young.
Oxford, 432 pp., £19.99, May 2018, 978 0 19 530788 7
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... and death – as veneration. The will to believe such accounts can have terrible repercussions. Paul Veyne, the great classicist, wrote a justly celebrated book, Did the Greeks Believe in their Myths?, in which he makes clear that we can’t know the answer. The literal, physical reality of aerial creatures, like that of divine creatures, has ...

Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

Sexual Desire 
by Roger Scruton.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.95, February 1986, 9780297784791
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Pantheon, 293 pp., $17.95, December 1985, 0 394 54349 1
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Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times 
by Philippe Ariès and André Béjin, translated by Anthony Forster.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 9780631134763
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No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 
by Allan Brandt.
Oxford (New York), 245 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 19 503469 4
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by Nancy Friday.
Collins, 593 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 00 217587 8
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... of detailed reconstructions of the erotic life of Romans and Greeks by such ancient historians as Paul Veyne and Kenneth Dover (whose authoritative book on Greek homosexuality Roger Scruton oddly, and without authority, dismisses as ‘trivialising’), but his interest is strictly in the origin of particular kinds of moral scruple, not in the incidence ...

Rich and Poor in the Ancient World

Fergus Millar, 17 June 1982

... here: there is likely to have been an evolution in the political character of the liturgy, as Paul Veyne suggested in Chapter Two of Le Pain et le Cirque (1976). But de Ste Croix insists that it was specifically through the exploitation of slaves (rather than of free hired labour) that the Greek upper classes gained their surplus. So, first, how in ...

Slaves and Citizens

Jon Elster, 3 June 1982

Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 202 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7011 2510 1
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Economy and Society in Ancient Greece 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 326 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 7011 2549 7
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The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal 
edited by M.I. Finley.
Oxford, 479 pp., £8.95, August 1981, 0 19 821915 6
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... that he stand back to form a full picture. It is instructive to compare him in this respect to Paul Veyne – another outstanding writer on ancient history, and like Finley steeped in modern social theory. In one of his insightful asides, Finley writes that ‘we might consider the Pont du Gard as a fantastically expensive way of bringing fresh water ...

Irrational Politics

Jon Elster, 21 August 1980

... recent studies of non-rational (indeed often irrational) political behaviour. The first is Paul Veyne’s Le Pain et le Cirque,2 an analysis of civic giving in Classical Antiquity; the second Alexander Zinoviev’s The Yawning Heights,3 a satirical and penetrating work about politics and everyday life in the Soviet Union. ...


Jon Elster, 5 November 1981

La Distinction: Critique Sociale du Jugement 
by Pierre Bourdieu.
Editions de Minuit, 670 pp., £9.05, August 1979, 2 7073 0275 9
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... lack of an intention to succeed. This last observation is also crucial to the marvellous work by Paul Veyne, Le Pain et le Cirque: but unlike Bourdieu Veyne makes it clear that the useful consequences of a disregard for useful consequences do not in any way explain that disregard. To discuss what distinguishes whom ...
... audience including, presumably, many straight readers. Perhaps a few more gay male writers – Paul Monette, David Leavitt and Armistead Maupin in the US, Alan Hollinghurst, Paul Bailey, Adam Mars-Jones in Britain – enjoy this crossover status. International comparisons, however, can be misleading, since they disguise ...

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