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Statues crumbled

Barbara Graziosi: Atheism in the Ancient World

27 July 2016
Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World 
by Tim Whitmarsh.
Faber, 290 pp., £25, February 2016, 978 0 571 27930 2
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... viciously than they deserve. But they can also see what we choose not to – namely, that their victims are, in part at least, the makers of their own misfortunes. As soon as Zeus has finished, Athena mentions Odysseus: he has been languishing on the island of Calypso and ‘only wants to catch sight of the smoke curling up from his own land’. Zeus considers ...

One Kidnapping Away

Tim Whitmarsh: ‘How to Manage Your Slaves’

3 December 2015
How to Manage Your Slaves 
by Marcus Sidonius Falx, with Jerry Toner.
Profile, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2015, 978 1 78125 251 2
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... the day of slavery comes upon him,’ the swineherd Eumaeus comments in the Odyssey. It was a sentiment that persisted throughout antiquity and into the Middle Ages. Roman slavery, however, was a paradox. The economy was driven by free peasant labour, not by the unfree. The reason the Romans began using slaves in the second century BCE has been debated since ...

Crashing the Delphic Party

Tim Whitmarsh: Aesop

16 June 2011
Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue and the Invention of Greek Prose 
by Leslie Kurke.
Princeton, 495 pp., £20.95, December 2010, 978 0 691 14458 0
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... as the themes of which he treats,’ Edward Salmon wrote a year later. Retooled into sanctimonious parables, fables were seen as an effective means of communicating Protestant morality. Yet Aesop wasn’t read by children in antiquity. Despite the fables’ anthropomorphised animals and childlike air, the mise en scène was usually imagined to be ...

Mythology in Bits

Tim Whitmarsh: Ancient Greek ‘Religion’

20 December 2018
The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion 
edited by Esther Eidinow and Julia Kindt.
Oxford, 736 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 19 881017 9
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... the objects of veneration, the appropriate techniques, the people involved, the spaces, the timeframes, the legal frameworks. But a closer look reveals some strikingly un-Durkheimian preoccupations. For a start, there is no sign that the strong move away from prioritising ‘polis religion’ is slowing. Twenty years ago, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood ...

What children are for

Tim Whitmarsh: Roman Education

7 June 2012
The School of Rome: Latin Studies and the Origins of Liberal Education 
by Martin Bloomer.
California, 281 pp., £34.95, April 2012, 978 0 520 25576 0
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... class. Education differentiated haves from have-nots (and from many of the have-somes), and legitimised the vast and unquestioned power that the elite – usually the male elite – held. There were elementary ‘schools’ – ludi – for the less well-off. Basic literacy, of the kind taught by Cassian of Imola, was more common and demographically ...

Target Practice

Tim Whitmarsh: Lucian

25 February 2010
Lucian: A Selection 
edited by Neil Hopkinson.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.99, October 2008, 978 0 521 84200 6
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... 16th century, when he won a place on the Inquisition’s Index of Prohibited Books. At the same time, he was being lionised elsewhere in Europe by the new Protestant champions of Greek philology. Sir Thomas More and Erasmus (also honoured with an appearance in the Index) were both keen translators and literary imitators of Lucian. His supporters saw him as ...

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