Ancient Supplication

Ancient Supplication


By (author) Fred Naiden


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 440 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 36mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 7 January 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195385985
  • ISBN 13: 9780195385984
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations

Product description

This is the first book-length treatment of supplication, an important social practice in ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Despite the importance of supplication, it has received little attention, and no previous study has explored so many aspects of the practice. Naiden investigates the varied gestures made by the supplicants, the types of requests they make, the arguments used in defense of their requests, and the role of the supplicandus, who evaluates and decides whether to fulfill the requests. Varied and abundant sources invite comparison between the societies of Greece and Rome and also among literary genres. Additionally, Naiden formulates an analysis of the ritual in its legal and political contexts. In constructing this rich and thorough study, Naiden considered over 800 acts of supplication from Greek, Hebrew, and Roman literature, art, and scientific sources. 30 illustrations and a map of the relevant locations accompany the text.

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Author information

Assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Review quote

..".a work of ancient history, where often complex moral and legal considerations take precedence over literary analysis. The great merit of such an approach is its emphasis upon social action in a violent world of steeply asymmetrical power and rights, and it gains added point from the discussion of an incident, and grisly photographs, from the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 (292-295)....a fine account of a fascinating topic at the meeting point of religious practice, law, and moral feeling." --Richard Gordon, Greece & Rome"This is a well-written work, and all sections of it are finely argued and comprehensible upon a first reading. This is a major plus given the present trend towards obscurantism and jargon in some works of ancient history. Naiden has an erudite grasp of the ancient sources, which can be clearly seen to bear the interpretation which he places upon them. He does not need to stretch the meaning of the evidence to make his arguments: his work comes strictly from the sources and what they tell and imply. Above all, this is an original work of scholarship: it is the first monograph length study of Greek and Roman supplication. It is also an excellent piece of scholarship which will be standard work on this topic for many years to come." --The Classical Review"Naiden's book, which is a major scholarly achievement, will now be the standard study of supplication in classical antiquity.... Naiden writes clearly and has a refined feeling for genre and literary context.... This is a first-rate book, and indispensable to anyone interested in ancient supplication."--David Konstan, Classical Journal"'Supplication' is one of those topics classicists--and indeed, all readers of ancient texts--encounter on almost every page of their well-worn tomes but rarely stop to consider in their own right. It is a topic worthy of inquiry and, Naiden's book is the standard reference on it. This reviewer congratulates Naiden for the comprehensiveness of cited supplications, his thorough analysis of the ritual proprities of beseeching victorious enemies, and his careful reading of several purple passages for supplicant seekers. Beautifully written and well proofread, this accessible book is one of the best classics titles to emanate from Oxford this year. Essential." --Choice"This is an excellent study of the practice of supplication, and the first time anyone has written on supplication as a whole. The control of both ancient texts and modern scholarship (in various languages) is splendid. Equally important is the fact that the author is saying something new. He argues, contrary to modern orthodoxy, that all four phases of supplication were important, and that the final phase of decision-making was much more problematic than is usually imagined. The book extends its analysis into the area of Greek law and Roman institutions, both Republican and Imperial, revealing the interface between the practice of supplication and ordinary bureaucratic and legal procedures. The book stands out for its ambitious coverage, original thinking, and first-rate scholarship."--Simon Price, University of Oxford

Table of contents

Spellings and Abbreviations ; Chapter 1: Yes and No ; Chapter 2: The First Three Steps in Supplication ; Chapter 3: The Fourth and Last Step ; Chapter 4: Supplication and Greek Law ; Chapter 5: Supplication, Republic, and Principate ; Chapter 6: Ceremony and Morals ; Appendices ; Bibliography ; Indices