Ancient World

The Folds of Olympus: Mountains in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture

A cultural and literary history of mountains in classical antiquity


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Aug 2, 2022
27 b/w illus. 1 map.
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The mountainous character of the Mediterranean was a crucial factor in the history of the ancient Greek and Roman world. The Folds of Olympus is a cultural and literary history that explores the important role mountains played in Greek and Roman religious, military, and economic life, as well as in the identity of communities over a millennium—from Homer to the early Christian saints. Aimed at readers of ancient history and literature as well as those interested in mountains and the environment, the book offers a powerful account of the landscape at the heart of much Greek and Roman culture.

Jason König charts the importance of mountains in religion and pilgrimage, the aesthetic vision of mountains in art and literature, the place of mountains in conquest and warfare, and representations of mountain life. He shows how mountains were central to the way in which the inhabitants of the ancient Mediterranean understood the boundaries between the divine and the human, and the limits of human knowledge and control. He also argues that there is more continuity than normally assumed between ancient descriptions of mountains and modern accounts of the picturesque and the sublime.

Offering a unique perspective on the history of classical culture, The Folds of Olympus is also a resoundingly original contribution to the literature on mountains.

Awards and Recognition

  • Longlisted for the Runciman Award, Anglo-Hellenic League
  • Shortlisted for the London Hellenic Prize, London Hellenic Society
  • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year