Book Review: War and Society in the Greek World


by John Rich & Graham Shipley, editors

London/New York: Routledge, 2011. Pp. xiv, 264. Illus., map, tables, notes,, biblio., index. $44.95 paper. ISBN: 0415513302

When it was originally published, nearly 20 years ago, War and Society in the Greek World, was a rather ground-breaking work, and it continues to influence modern perceptions of the Greek world from Homeric times through the Hellenistic Age. 

The book contains eleven essays by various specialists, including the editors, but also Hugh Bowden, Paul Millett, Ellen Rice, and others.  Each essay deals with some particular aspect of the relationship between war and society in the greater Greek world from the twelfth through the second centuries BC.  Individual essays address such ideas as the origins of war, the constancy of organized violence in the Hellenic world (from cattle raids and piracy to colonization and outright war), how The Bible helps throw light on ancient Greek institutions, war and slavery, artistic images of victory and defeat, depictions of the defeated and honors to the dead, war, society, the evolution or devolution of military practice in Sparta and of Athens, and the historiography of the wars of Alexander the Great.  In the process, the book also reminds us that our idealistic notions of ancient Greek civilization, don't necessarily reflect the harsh realities of life in those times.

A volume in the series  "Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society", War and Society in the Greek World is an important read for anyone specializing in ancient Greek history, and can also be rewarding reading for those interested in the nature of war and the interrelationship of war and society.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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