Okay, we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; what about judging it by its index? This thought is prompted by the especially detailed index of the new Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy, edited by Walter Scheidel, a copy of which has just been delivered (the cover, incidentally, has a perfectly decent picture of a sculptural relief showing a ship arriving at Ostia – of course, we could think about the impression that such an image, rather than alternatives, is intended to create – and is a very nice red colour). I’m not going to have a chance to read the thing properly until some time next year, and as I have a short contribution therein to a discussion on Roman trade (because choosing any single one of the different contributors to write a single chapter on this controversial topic would have been problematic, I guess – or Walter wanted to stay on all our Christmas card lists) I’m not going to be asked to review it properly; I can therefore indulge in a few snap judgements without any serious consequences, or at least explore the results of making snap judgements on the basis of the index. (more…)
Archive for November, 2012
Almost there: on Wednesday at 10.30 on BBC4 (or this evening, if I tune into German Arte), I can find out what I have to say about poverty in the ancient world, in an animated history of world poverty, Poor Us, appearing as part of the worldwide ‘Why Poverty?’ season. On the basis of the programmes I’ve seen so far – especially a superbly balanced and thought-provoking documentary on the anti-poverty activism of Geldof and Bono, raising all sorts of questions about means and ends (how far do you get into bed with nasty African dictators and self-serving western politicians with hidden agendas in the hope of doing some good?), questions of priorities and the whole issue of whether this just recapitulates the history of western paternalism towards Africa – this should be absolutely excellent, and I have enormous faith in the director and his vision.
Still, it’s a little nerve-racking; even if the programme is excellent, what about me? (more…)