Monday, September 6, 2010

Greek Personal Names: their Value as Evidence

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Elaine Matthews, Simon Hornblower, British Academy
Oxford University Press, 2000 - 184pages

This volume offers dramatic illumination of the ways in which the ancient Greeks both created and interpreted their world through the specific language of personal names. For the ancient Greeks, the assertion of origin was essential in defining their sense of who they were and how they distinguished themselves from neighbors and strangers. Each person's name might carry both identity and origin. Names have surfaced in many guises and locations--on coins and artefacts, embedded within inscriptions and manuscripts--carrying with them evidence even from prehistoric and preliterate times. The contributors to this volume draw on The Lexicon of Greek Names, which has already identified more than 200,000 individuals, to demonstrate the breadth of scholarly uses to which name evidence can be put. The contributors also narrate the stories of political and social change revealed by the incidence of personal names and cast a fascinating light upon both the natural and supernatural phenomena which inspired them.

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