The World of Ancient Greece

Greenwood. (Daily Life Encyclopedias). 2 vols. 2019. 977p. ISBN 9781440837302. $204. REF
Lovano (history, St. Norbert Coll.; All Things Julius Caesar) surveys sociocultural history in Greece from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman Empire, focusing on 490–30 BCE. The writing is exceptionally clear, and the range is impressive: Virtually all possible areas are covered (arts, family and gender, fashion and appearance, food and drink, housing and community, politics and warfare, recreation and social customs, religion and beliefs, science and technology). Lovano frequently considers women’s roles, rights, powers, and perspectives. Informatively captioned black-and-white illustrations are well chosen, though more, especially for dress, buildings, city layouts, and maps, would have been helpful. A time line, cross-references, further reading, a general bibliography, and an appendix of 19 excerpted primary documents, each with brief contextual notes, aid researchers. Lovano knowledgeably cites varied ancient sources on a staggering array of topics, including metallurgy, oracles, and magic. Readers will learn that Plutarch advocated providing education to the poor and the enslaved, that consuming butter or beer was judged barbaric, that fewer than two percent of ancient Greek city-states were democracies, and that sacrificed animal remains were piled on Zeus’s altar at Olympia. Many articles vividly address customs and mind-sets, such as essays on the cost of living and entries on festivals and leisure. The perceptive, brief introductions to each section are especially engaging.
VERDICT Users from advanced secondary students to general readers will find here a strong, accessible foundation of basic information revolving around the classical and Hellenistic periods.

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