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The History Written on the Classical Greek Body

The History Written on the Classical Greek Body

Hardback The Wiles Lectures

By (author) Robin Osborne

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 276 pages
  • Dimensions: 174mm x 248mm x 20mm | 680g
  • Publication date: 15 August 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 1107003202
  • ISBN 13: 9781107003200
  • Illustrations note: 61 b/w illus.

Product description

This book challenges historians to come to terms with the distortions that they systematically introduce into their work by their reliance on what has been written on paper without looking at what was and was not written on the body. This book is concerned with the ways in which texts relating to classical Greece, and in particular to classical Athens, classified people and with the extent to which those classifications could be seen by the eye. It compares the qualities distinguished in texts to those distinguished in sculpture and painted pottery, and emphasises the frequent invisibility of the categories upon which historians have laid most stress - the citizen, the free person, the foreigner, even the god. The frequent impossibility of seeing who belonged to which category has major political, social and theological implications which are explored here, as well as potentially revolutionary implications for all future historical writing.

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Author information

Robin Osborne is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow and Senior Tutor of King's College and a Fellow of the British Academy. His research ranges broadly across Greek history, Greek archaeology and the history of Greek art. Along with numerous edited and coedited volumes, he has written Demos: The Discovery of Classical Attika (Cambridge University Press, 1985), Classical Landscape with Figures: The Ancient Greek City and its Countryside (1987), Greece in the Making, 1200-479 BC (1996, 2nd edition 2009), Archaic and Classical Greek Art (1998) and Greek History (2004). A collection of his papers has been published as Athens and Athenian Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010). This book was written as a contribution to a project on 'Changing Beliefs of the Human Body' funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Review quote

"His aim is not to produce a history of the Greek body, but rather to use the body as a lens to bring into focus the biases and distortions inherent in more traditional text-centered histories." -- Zachary Biles, New England Classical Journal

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Writing history on the classical body; 2. The appearance of the classical Greek body; 3. The distinguished body; 4. The citizen body; 5. Foreign bodies; 6. Dirty bodies; 7. Godsbodies; 8. Telling bodies.