Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World - Tim Whitmarsh

If history has been written by the victors, it’s also generally come from the believers. To balance the record, Whitmarsh joins the theomachists--“battlers of god”—not to disprove divinity but to question the motives, roles, and rules of religion in the ancient world. Early challengers included Socrates, who defied received ideas to advocate independent thought, and Thucydides, who refused to read meaning into signs from the gods. Whitmarsh’s fascinating chronicle reminds us that in classical Greece philosophy filled spiritual needs, and religion was about ritual, not convictions, mortality, not morals, the gods representing humanity’s wish to live forever. Later, rulers were treated as gods for their superhuman (not supernatural) achievements, the first step to the intertwining of religious and state interests in the Roman Catholic empire.

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World By Tim Whitmarsh Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307948779
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - October 18th, 2016

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World - Adrienne Mayor

Adrienne Mayor, the Stanford classicist, historian of science, and author of The Poison King, dispels the myths of The Amazons (Princeton, $29.95) and reveals an even more fascinating reality. You won’t miss the sensational fictions of man-slaying, single-breasted archers who scorned marriage and motherhood, as you follow the true warrior women across the Eurasian steppes, from Bulgaria to Mongolia, in this thorough and richly illustrated ethnography. Until recently, most of what we thought we knew about the Amazons came from the ancient Greeks. But that settled and patriarchal culture misinterpreted the practices of the Scythians and other nomadic tribes, seeing female dominance in what was really gender equality. Both men and women hunted, fought, rode horses, and wore pants; everyone had to contribute to ensure the group’s survival in the harsh desert and mountain landscapes. The extent of the Greeks’ misunderstandings has become clear with archeological excavations and technology. Both find that women were buried like heroes, with sumptuous grave goods including gold, weapons, tools, personal hemp-burning kits, horses, and sometimes children.

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World By Adrienne Mayor Cover Image
ISBN: 9780691147208
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Princeton University Press - September 22nd, 2014

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World By Adrienne Mayor Cover Image
ISBN: 9780691170275
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Princeton University Press - February 9th, 2016

Cities That Shaped the Ancient World - John Julius Norwich

You know of Thebes and Memphis, Alexandria and Petra—but what of Mohenjo-Daro and Tikal? And can you name the world’s first city? If not, consider an armchair tour across forty cities in the dawning age of urban life in Cities that Shaped the Ancient World (Thames & Hudson, $40). Edited by the estimably erudite John Julius Norwich, this volume showcases its subjects in four-to eight-page spreads, set off by the vivid illustrations characteristic of a Thames & Hudson fine art volume: detailed depictions of each city’s standout art and architecture (insofar as it is documented) and aerial views of the excavated metropolises. The sampling of cities is admirably varied, drawing of course from the Mediterranean and Levant, but also from the New World, Asia, and Africa, covering cities with a profound historical record as well as those whose material remains are sparse. As Norwich cautions, this collection is not a history book per se; “instead, it spins the globe and watches, as the earth’s endlessly varied peoples take their first tentative steps in that most challenging art of living together.”