The Classical Tradition

The Classical Tradition

Hardback Harvard University Press Reference Library

Edited by Anthony Grafton, Edited by Glenn W. Most, Edited by Salvatore Settis

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  • Publisher: The Belknap Press
  • Format: Hardback | 928 pages
  • Dimensions: 211mm x 267mm x 62mm | 2,702g
  • Publication date: 28 October 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0674035720
  • ISBN 13: 9780674035720
  • Illustrations note: 165 color illustrations
  • Sales rank: 110,408

Product description

How do we get from the polis to the police? Or from Odysseus' sirens to an ambulance's? The legacy of ancient Greece and Rome has been imitated, resisted, misunderstood, and reworked by every culture that followed. In this volume, some five hundred articles by a wide range of scholars investigate the afterlife of this rich heritage in the fields of literature, philosophy, art, architecture, history, politics, religion, and science. Arranged alphabetically from Academy to Zoology, the essays - designed and written to serve scholars, students, and the general reader alike - show how the Classical tradition has shaped human endeavors from art to government, mathematics to medicine, drama to urban planning, legal theory to popular culture. At once authoritative and accessible, learned and entertaining, comprehensive and surprising, and accompanied by an extensive selection of illustrations, this guide illuminates the vitality of the Classical tradition that still surrounds us today.

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Author information

Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University. Glenn W. Most is Professor of Greek Philology, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, and Professor of Social Thought, University of Chicago. Salvatore Settis is Director of the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, where he is also Professor of the History of Classical Art and Archaeology.

Review quote

Now here is a fabulous book--and a bargain to boot. Harvard has produced this gigantic volume, packed with color plates and essays by some of the greatest scholars alive, for the price of a couple of hardback thrillers. Better still, while The Classical Tradition may look like a work of reference, it's actually one of the best bedside books you could ask for. I know because I've been browsing around in it with immense pleasure...Certainly anyone even mildly interested in the Western cultural heritage will find The Classical Tradition a necessary purchase...[It] shows us how deeply the stories, iconic figures and ideas of antiquity succor our imaginations and still suffuse the world we live in. -- Michael Dirda Washington Post 20101014 Make no mistake, The Classical Tradition is exceedingly delightful...An esoteric tool for the scholar on the face of it, The Classical Tradition turns out to be a guide for living here, now, in the 21st century as we find it. -- Morgan Meis The Smart Set 20101105 A heady, hefty new single-volume reference...This is a browser's paradise...While Greece and Rome are no longer the foundation of education, classical scholarship has never been richer. -- Steve Coates New York Times Book Review 20101205 The Classical Tradition is a guidebook of great erudition that is notably well written and unexpectedly compelling. It definitely is not another of those solemn introductions to "the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome." Instead it is a lively compendium of the manifold ways in which the enduring creations of the classical tradition, and the Greek and Latin classics, have been imitated, adulated, denounced and misunderstood--or understood all too well--over the past two millennia...Each article brings some unexpected insight or little known fact into the discussion, to illuminating effect...The scholarship is impeccable, but there is a donnish drollery in many of the articles...[A] marvelous guide. -- Eric Ormsby Wall Street Journal 20101122 Anthony Grafton's entry on Historiography is as elegant and learned as everything he does. So elegant and learned, in fact, that I wanted to read each and every essay he had written in The Classical Tradition...Being lost in this book can be invigorating. -- Brendan Boyle New Criterion 20101101 This absorbing and endlessly browsable compendium, edited by Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, and Salvatore Settis, explores the richness of our classical legacy through scores of essays, alphabetically arranged by subject, that illuminate our past, our present, and probably our future as well. Barnes and Noble Review 20101203 If, as some classicists say, our minds, bodies, government, law, medicine, arts, and fill-in-the-blank are unintelligible without an understanding of the Greco-Roman heritage, then do not waste another minute in ignorance and read this massive work, or at least selections of it, with urgency. A team of distinguished scholars--rivaling the number of warriors in the Battle of Thermopylae--dispenses knowledge and opinions on every imaginable topic under the Classical sun, connecting us to our ancient bloodline. -- Christopher Benson First Things 20101221 [The Classical Tradition's] catalogue of contributors is a who's who of classical scholarship and includes some of the best known scholars writing for an educated non-specialist public, such as Ingrid Rowland, Simon Goldhill, Mary Beard and Glen Bowersock...[The editors] have sourced not so much anodyne entries on set-piece subjects--the staple of any encyclopedia--as stories brightly told that move through time to relate, for example, the achievements of the Roman poet Horace as they were seen in the ancient world, followed by an assessment of his immediate influence on Latin poetry, and his considerable impact on subsequent poets from Petrarch to Joseph Brodsky, with a slight pause over the case of Byron, who loathed Horace after their encounters in school...The publication of this Harvard guide not so much to the classical past as to the uses we have made of it--its various metamorphoses--is in itself a cultural event. Consider it one among many markers of a contemporary re-attachment to the classical past. -- Luke Slattery Australian Literary Review 20110301 Eclectic rather than exhaustive, the compendium is less an encyclopedia than a buffet, in alphabetical order, of topics and glosses. There is, fortunately, no ideological consistency or purpose. The harvesting academics bring home a bumper crop to remind and instruct the reader of how the Classics are still central to the civilized intelligence; food for thought and primers of the imagination. -- Frederic Raphael Literary Review 20110301 Whether priced by the pound or the page, this hefty compendium is quite a bargain. Lead editor Grafton...is perhaps the perfect captain for an ambitious work that attempts to capture, as the preface indicates, the "reception of Graeco-Roman antiquity in all its dimensions in later cultures."...More than 150 color images only add to the browsing pleasure. -- B. Juhl Choice 20110301 Entries of commendable clarity and range include those on Homer, on pastoral, on Catullus, and on the Argonauts. This is a valuable reference work, especially for those new to the classical world. -- Victoria Moul Times Literary Supplement 20110610 A stunningly wonderful compilation...Massive in length and unimpeachable in scholarship, it nonetheless manages to be endlessly absorbing, and often quietly entertaining into the bargain...I've pored over this book like a madman ever since setting hands on it and I've devoured enough to be certain that it's a masterpiece of concision, knowledge, judgment and dedication. It's clearly going to be a companion for life, and all the better for being well-nigh inexhaustible. -- Bradley Winterton Taipei Times 20110731