Manual Roman Social History: A Sourcebook (Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World)

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This is the first major sourcebook on ancient sexuality; it will be of particular use on related courses in classics, ancient history and gender studies. The divine sphere. The Birth of Aphrodite.

Roman Social History: A Sourcebook

Nothing is Sweeter than Love. Samesex relationships. This inconsistency is frustrating and poses potential problems for students when utilizing sources for their own research, especially the absence of dates and information about the type of work from which a particular entry was excerpted. Although Parkin and Pomeroy aim to illustrate predominant themes in the study of Roman social life, surely there were changes over time in behaviour and attitudes about which students should be aware in part by being attentive to the date and context of authors' views.

These concerns regarding dating and context could easily be remedied by providing either the date at composition if known or a date related to the entry's content, and by ensuring that each entry is preceded by a brief comment on its genre, reliability, or other notable features. One or two bibliographic items could routinely be included for each entry or students could simply be directed to the list of references at the end of each chapter.


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My preference, however, would be toward the former and largely to follow the model of another Routledge sourcebook -- Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland's immensely useful Ancient Rome -- 1 in which the majority of entries cite a short list of the most important bibliography on the topic. This has proven extremely helpful for students who can be overwhelmed by the scholarship available on a particular topic and uncertain where to begin.

Dillon and Garland's volume also contains a chapter of short biographies for the ancient sources in the collection which I have found useful in helping students appreciate the importance of considering date, context, and genre when assessing the information in a textual excerpt. An outline of ancient sources such as this would also be of benefit since Parkin and Pomeroy make excellent use of some late material, drawing especially on patristic authors such as Cyprian and John Chrysostom, whose works are surely unfamiliar to the majority of Classics and Ancient History undergraduate students.

While most of the entries are moderate in length, in the chapters on the family and household and slavery the excerpts from legal sources, particularly the Digest , tend to be quite long and sometimes span several pages.

Such lengthy excerpts seem excessive and unlikely to be read in full and processed by students. They also lend the study of these aspects of social history the appearance of being primarily legalistic in nature and thereby overshadow other approaches and elements of appeal. In the chapter on the family and household, for example, there are few glimpses of the joys of family life we find described in the Letters of Cicero and Fronto or the challenges of raising teenagers outlined by Apuleius in his Apologia , and only minimal record of the immense importance of slaves in the rearing of freeborn children and overall maintenance of domestic life.

Similarly, in the chapter on slavery, the voices of the jurists' dominate and slaves are scarcely heard despite the numerous inscriptions by slaves that survive and the literary works of former slaves such as Phaedrus and Epictetus that offer invaluable insights regarding social relations.

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A few additional areas received limited attention yet are important when seeking to present as comprehensive a picture of Roman social life as possible. Patronage and the role of collegia are both touched upon briefly but would seem to merit further discussion which would enhance the existing information in the chapters on social classes and the economy.

Surprisingly, the final chapter on leisure and games includes no mention of gambling, prostitution, or the theatre, and religion barely makes an appearance in the volume despite its importance in nearly all aspects of social life. Yet notwithstanding these minor criticisms, Parkin and Pomeroy's sourcebook is an extremely useful collection for the study of Roman social history, particularly for its diversity of topics and wide range of literary, epigraphic, and papyrological source materials. It will be a valuable resource for students, instructors, and anyone interested in accessing the 'other side' of Rome's history and evidence for the day-to-day experiences of the majority of Romans in the early empire.

Dillon, M.


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  • Ancient Rome: from the early Republic to the assassination of Julius Caesar. While most of the entries are moderate in length, in the chapters on the family and household and slavery the excerpts from legal sources, particularly the Digest , tend to be quite long and sometimes span several pages.

    Death in Ancient Rome : A Sourcebook

    Such lengthy excerpts seem excessive and unlikely to be read in full and processed by students. They also lend the study of these aspects of social history the appearance of being primarily legalistic in nature and thereby overshadow other approaches and elements of appeal.

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    In the chapter on the family and household, for example, there are few glimpses of the joys of family life we find described in the Letters of Cicero and Fronto or the challenges of raising teenagers outlined by Apuleius in his Apologia , and only minimal record of the immense importance of slaves in the rearing of freeborn children and overall maintenance of domestic life. Similarly, in the chapter on slavery, the voices of the jurists' dominate and slaves are scarcely heard despite the numerous inscriptions by slaves that survive and the literary works of former slaves such as Phaedrus and Epictetus that offer invaluable insights regarding social relations.

    A few additional areas received limited attention yet are important when seeking to present as comprehensive a picture of Roman social life as possible. Patronage and the role of collegia are both touched upon briefly but would seem to merit further discussion which would enhance the existing information in the chapters on social classes and the economy.

    Roman Social History: A Sourcebook - Google Libros

    Surprisingly, the final chapter on leisure and games includes no mention of gambling, prostitution, or the theatre, and religion barely makes an appearance in the volume despite its importance in nearly all aspects of social life. Yet notwithstanding these minor criticisms, Parkin and Pomeroy's sourcebook is an extremely useful collection for the study of Roman social history, particularly for its diversity of topics and wide range of literary, epigraphic, and papyrological source materials.

    It will be a valuable resource for students, instructors, and anyone interested in accessing the 'other side' of Rome's history and evidence for the day-to-day experiences of the majority of Romans in the early empire.

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    Dillon, M. Ancient Rome: from the early Republic to the assassination of Julius Caesar. London and New York: Routledge, Post a Comment. Monday, May 11, Parkin, Arthur J. Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World. ISBN Reviewed by Fanny Dolansky, Brock University Table of Contents Preview Roman social history: a sourcebook assembles a diverse collection of Latin and Greek sources ranging from the well-known and easily accessible, such as Seneca's Letters and excerpts from the Digest , to the more obscure, including medical treatises of Galen and homilies of John Chrysostom, in addition to a valuable selection of inscriptions and papyri.

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