The Oxford Handbook of the Literatures of the Roman Empire
Edited by Daniel L. Selden and Phiroze Vasunia
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The Oxford Handbook of the Literatures of the Roman Empire makes a decisive intervention in contemporary scholarship in at least two ways. The principal purpose the volume is to increase awareness and understanding of the multiplicity of literatures that flourished under Roman rule—not only Greek and Latin, but also Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, Mandaic, etc. Beyond this, the volume also covers a number of literatures (e.g., South Arabian, Pahlavi, Old Ethiopic) which, while strictly independent of Roman imperial domination, nonetheless evolved dialectically in relation to it. Secondly, in presenting this array of different literatures within a single volume, the Handbook aims to facilitate further research into the relationship between literature and empire in the Roman world—an emergent field of increasing importance to such disciplines as classical scholarship, Mediterranean studies, and postcolonialism. No such overview of this material currently exists: accordingly, the volume promises both to clear up numerous understandings about the range and variety of the literary evidence per se, as well as significantly reshape current thinking about the content and character of ‘Roman literature’ as a whole. The Handbook consists of two parts: Part I presents a series of thematic chapters conceived as propaedeutic to Part II, which provides a systematic treatment of the different literatures— arranged by language—that the Roman Empire harboured roughly between the battle of Actium in 31 BCE and the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 CE. Such a collection has never before appeared within the compass of a single volume: what students and scholars will find here are introductory but expert presentations not only of the major literatures of the of Empire—Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic—but also of the numerous minor literatures, which have for the most part been heretofore accessible only through the consultation of scattered sources that—outside of world‐class libraries, museums, and special collections—generally prove difficult to find. Since no prior collection of these literatures exists, their very collocation is itself bound to provoke questions.
- Oxford University Press
- Published online:
- Oct 2015