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Homer in Stone
The Tabulae Iliacae in their Roman Context


Part of Greek Culture in the Roman World

  • Date Published: December 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316631935

£ 23.99

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About the Authors
  • The Tabulae Iliacae are a group of carved stone plaques created in the context of early Imperial Rome that use miniature images and text to retell stories from Greek myth and history - chief among them Homer's Iliad and the fall of Troy. In this book, Professor Petrain moves beyond the narrow focus on the literary and iconographic sources of the Tabulae that has characterized earlier scholarship. Drawing on ancient and modern theories of narrative, he explores instead how the tablets transfer the Troy saga across both medium and culture as they create a system of visual storytelling that relies on the values and viewing habits of Roman viewers. The book comprehensively situates the tablets in the urban fabric of Augustan Rome. New photographs of the tablets, together with re-editions and translations of key inscriptions, offer a new, clearer view of these remarkable documents of the Roman appropriation of Greek epic.

    • Presents a new interpretation of the storytelling techniques of the Tabulae Iliacae in the light of ancient and modern theories of narrative
    • Comprehensively situates the tablets in the cultural discourses and urban fabric of early Imperial Rome
    • Provides new photographs of the Tabulae Iliacae, and includes an appendix featuring comprehensive descriptions of key tablets and all inscribed texts, both in the original Greek and in English translation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is an instructive and rewarding study of a topic that can seem abstruse and that has endangered controversy. … Given this work's clear presentation of evidence, balance of iconographic and literary interpretation, and lucid argument, I would advise scholars new to the topic to start with it first.' Jonathon Burgess, The Classical Journal

    'The book is handsomely produced and well-illustrated, with few typographical errors; the two appendices provide an invaluable conspectus of the iconography and inscriptions on all the known Tabulae. Petrain has done a great deal to advance the study of these perplexing and intriguing objects, and all scholars of the Roman reception of Greek culture will learn much from his superb monograph.' Thomas R. Keith, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316631935
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 154 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 30 b/w illus. 9 colour illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Reading visual narrative in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds
    2. Tabula and taxis
    3. The semantics of the center
    4. Narrative in frieze and panel
    5. Findspots, display contexts, and the Roman public library
    6. Epic in miniature
    Appendix 1. Conspectus of the Tabulae Iliacae
    Appendix 2. Description of selected Tabulae: texts and images.

  • Author

    David Petrain, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
    David Petrain received his PhD in Classical Philology from the Department of the Classics at Harvard University, Massachusetts. He is a scholar of Greek and Latin language and literature with expertise in the art and material culture of ancient Rome. His articles about ancient poetry and other texts written on papyrus or inscribed in stone have appeared in the Transactions of the American Philological Association, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, and Mnemosyne. His co-edited volume, The Muse at Play: Riddles and Wordplay in Greek and Latin Poetry (with Jan Kwapisz and Mikolaj Szymanski), was published in 2012.

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