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The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (Open University Set Book) New Ed Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198609582
ISBN-10: 0198609582
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1996, Oxford published the third edition of its excellent resource, The Oxford Classical Dictionary. The goal of this new volume is to appeal to a wider audience by making some changes in the way the material from that dictionary is presented. While no entries have been shortened, some that were considered too recondite or technical for the nonspecialist have been omitted. Bibliographies attached to entries in the dictionary have been replaced by a general bibliography at the back of the book, and color and black-and-white illustrations illuminate some of the entries. Entries are now grouped under the following broad subject areas: History, Law & Society, Literature & Scholarship, Philosophy & Religion, and Science, Technology, & Material Culture. Highly recommended, even for libraries that already have copies of the dictionary.?Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"Beautifully illustrated and intelligently reader friendly."--Times Literary Supplement


"Excellent.... Highly recommended, even for libraries that already have copies of the dictionary."--The Library Journal


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Product Details

  • Series: Open University Set Book
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (November 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198609582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198609582
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,465,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As a standard introductory reference text, I found the Oxford Companion invaluable as a good beginning point to pursue any line of inquiry regarding the classical age. Weighing in at nearly 800 pages, this book is a weighty tome, not something to carry around lightly. Navigation within the book is easy with appropriate cross referencing, such as pointing you at GAIUS when you look up Caligula and warning you of other articles relating to the same subject. Also classical sources are clearly cited and I have followed a number of these up in standard translations to check their opinion. Spread throughout the book are numerous colour and black & white photographs of archaeological evidence and other artefacts. Also throughout the volume and are a number of special reference entries of extended length discussing in more detail important people, places or themes. Such as sections on: Homer, painting and slavery. As in any extended encyclopaedia project, the number of contributors is huge. Inevitably, given the small amount of space available for each section, each item is unlikely to offer a full range of scholarly thought, opinion and research. As with any reference text, it should be used as a starting point for research, not as a substitute.
You cannot please everybody all the time. On balance I think you have to accept that a work of this nature is going to throw up anomalies or controversial entries which not all readers will agree with. It is the nature of academic pursuit of knowledge to encounter disagreements or views which do not match your own. I very much doubt if hardly any of the contributors listed, would completely agree with each other on the articles which they have written. This is the nature of encyclopedias.
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Format: Hardcover
The publication of The Oxford Classical Dictionary, weighing in at 1,640 pages and $99.95 price tag may have told many people more about the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds more than they wanted to know. To them, this companion will be of prime interest.
To pare down the selections, the same editors who updated the dictionary relied on an all or nothing rule: either an entry would be reproduced in its entirety, or it would be dropped. Of the 40 Claudius in the original dictionary, only the Roman emperor popularized in "I, Claudius" made the cut. In addition, the editors kicked the type size up a point or two and recast the longer essays into a one-column layout with the background lightly shaded. Even at half the price, it still offers nearly 800 pages and contains a selection of maps and color photographs not found in its larger brethern. For those who were reluctant to shell out a C-note, this is an appealing alternative.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think the other reviewers are fair in regards to the positive qualities of this book. I would like to mention a few they have forgotten. There are only five maps but they are well chosen. I find that most of the cities and areas mentioned in my readings (right now I am working my way through Plutarch's Lives) can be located on these maps.
The editors include the list of abbreviations that are used in the Oxford Classical Dictionary. These include abbreviations for authors and works that are the standards used in scholarly writing. This is useful for figuring out that Pl. Plt. refers to Plato's Statesman.
There is also a Thematic Listing of Contents that lists all the articles about, e.g., Greek Myth.
All this is very well and good.
But I do not understand the criteria for cutting the articles from the Oxford Classical Dictionary For my usages, they may have been too extreme. For one thing, I would have expected all the people mentioned in Plutarch's Lives to have made the cut. Not so for Numa Pompilius (who figures largely in Machiavelli), Publius Verlius (chosen by Hamilton and Madison as their pen name when writing The Federalist Essays), Furius Camillus or Aemilius Paulus. No Timoleon nor Pelopidas. There is an article on Medea but nothing on Jason.
My major problem is the lack of an index. How can I possible know all of the articles wherein there might be a discussion of Aristotle, or Plutarch or of Plato? This lack almost is enough to downgrade the Companion from a reference work to a coffee table book.
And ultimately, that is exactly what the editors have accomplished. This is a nice-to-have book to dip into to try to find out a particular point. (Who is the Thrasybulus mentioned in Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas? The Companion is of no use. Wikipedia is of use.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is indispendable for a person like myself who got a degree in world religions in general, and early christianity in particular, and who, therefore, lacks an in-depth background in the secular history of Greece and Rome. I hesitated a while before writing a review because I had not read a sufficient number of articles. However, the time has come for comment. I find the shorter articles informative, but at times leaving me waanting more. The longer ones are more satisfying. I was tempted to buy the longer version of The Companion (The Oxford Classical Dictionary), but decided against it after reading the reviews. I am happy with my decision. If I want more information on a topic, I can find it elsewhere. I find that The Companion covers more topics than I need, but I enjoy randomingly paging through the book, selecting what strikes my fancy before going to sleep at night. This is a treasured resource that enhances my understanding of the milieu of early christianity.
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