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The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity
Benjamin Isaac

Book Description | Table of Contents
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"This is the first serious scholarly work to confront the problem of race and racism in Greco-Roman antiquity. . . . [Benjamin] Issac has deflated once and for all any easy suppositions about the modern origins of one of humankind's bitterest legacies."--Brent D. Shaw, Journal of World History

"The 563 pages of this book represent an academic tour-de-force, showing vast knowledge of ancient sources from Herodotus to late antiquity, and an equally impressive mastery of early modern scholarship from the sixteenth century onwards, drawing out many links between ancient and modern thinking."--David Noy, Journal of the Classical Association of Canada

"The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity is a compelling work that has been written with so much clarity, precision and erudition that it is almost impossible not to accept the author's views. It is also one of those books that will definitely change the way we look at the ancient world, a world that invented not only 'logos', democracy and philosophy, but also the art of using pseudo-scientific arguments in order to justify the worst ways of dealing with other men. Last but not least, Isaac establishes that considering racial discrimination in its earliest forms is a good way of gaining 'a better understanding of their contemporary forms,' since such prejudices continue to be at the root of most hatreds (and most wars) that are devastating today's world. For these reasons, this book is essential for anyone interested in the topic of racism."--Christian Delacampagne, Patterns of Prejudice


"A revolutionary work of immense relevance to the tensions of our contemporary globalized society. Enormous in scope, erudition, and importance, it is lucidly written and can easily be appreciated by any historically minded reader."--Glen W. Bowersock, Institute for Advanced Study

"Benjamin Isaac's treatment of this complex problem is the first comprehensive, intelligible, and truly magisterial one of which I am aware. The book will be an invaluable source of information, discussion, and interpretation for any person (scholar or layman) interested in any aspect of the problem of ethnic identity, whether in antiquity or in modern times."--Martin Ostwald, Swarthmore College and University of Pennsylvania

"The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity is by far the most sweeping and all-encompassing study of stereotypes and hostile portrayals by Greeks and Romans of other peoples that has yet been written. Isaac details the classical world's biased conceptualizations of Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Syrians, Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Germans, and Jews. As Isaac shows, the diverse images constructed at that time of genetic inferiority, of environmental and geographic influence, of descent and lineage, and propagation of fear of the alien have had an enduring impact on thinkers and public figures in Europe and the United States even up to the present time."--Erich S. Gruen, Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics, University of California, Berkeley

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File created: 4/21/2017

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