A d F o n t e s

(Latin: "to the sources")

Oxford University Press Reprints


This is something profs and grad students should probably know about–something that actually took me about a year to realize. About one year ago I was doing work on πολεις in the Greek and Roman Near East. I knew practically nothing about when or how they were founded, how they were governed, or to what extent they reflected their Greek and Hellenistic counterparts while under non-Greek/Hellenistic rule, or after Rome acquired the region.

So I wast sent by a professor to the classic works of A.M.H. Jones: his Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces and The Greek City, OUP 1937 and 1940, respectively. They were difficult to find in our school library, but I did find them online available for purchase at reasonable prices: $20-$30 a piece, whereas given their date I would’ve expected much more. So I bought them. (In retrospect they weren’t as helpful as I would have liked, but helpful nonetheless; more helpful were the Cambridge Ancient History, Oxford Classical Dictionary, and working through inscriptions.) What I did not realize at the time was that these reprints were part of a larger project of Powell’s Bookstores to bring a large number of old Oxford University Press books back into print–books which were still in high demand.

I made this discovery only after I stumbled upon a few more reprints, and happened to look at the final page of Rostovtzeff’s 3rd volume of The Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, which lists all the reprints available (would I have looked there a year ago, I would’ve obviously made this discovery earlier). There are probably 100 books listed there.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, there are a few others worth singling out:

**Both Rostovtzeff’s SEHHW and his Social and Economic History of the Roman World. Both of these sets are quite dated, but they’re still immeasurably useful for getting a good historical narrative and collecting primary sources. They are going for around $40 and $30. I’ve often found them very helpful starting points for any work I do on Hellenistic and Roman political and economic history.

**F.W. Walbank’s Historical Commentary on Polybius (3 vols) is available. Get it while you can. I think one can find it used for like $500 or something. I got mine for $70. It’s incredibly helpful, and of course must be counseled when working with Polybius. I used this a lot when writing a paper on Polybius’ concept of geography and the οικουμενη. Walbank was of course not specifically interested in the subject, but he give a very thorough textual and methodological discussion of bk. 34 and Strabo: the former is not extant but was a chapter on geography which Strabo used as a source.

**Ronald Syme’s Tacitus (2 vols). Just as Walbank on Polybius, this is a must for working with Tacitus. William V. Harris once told me that whenever he works with Tacitus, Syme’s volumes inevitably end up close by. I took that as a major hint, and found mine for $30 (again, more than reasonable).

**R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire. Again, dated, but still a standard work on 5th c. BCE Athens. I found this book very helpful in getting my bearings on the Athenian Tribute Lists (5th c. inscriptions), which was not an easy task given that it falls in a very difficult period, historically speaking.

How to find them: I found them through a few different search engines. Powell’s sells them, but they’re not always listed on their website. Try also:


May 28, 2007 - Posted by | Books

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