Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Ancient Forgiveness
Classical, Judaic, and Christian

$107.00 (C)

Charles L. Griswold, Adam Morton, David Konstan, Page duBois, Kathryn Gutzwiller, Susanna M. Braund, Kristina Milnor, Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, Michael L. Morgan, Peter S. Hawkins, Jennifer W. Knust, Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, Jonathan Jacobs
View all contributors
  • Date Published: December 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521119481

$ 107.00 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In this book, eminent scholars of classical antiquity and ancient and medieval Judaism and Christianity explore the nature and place of forgiveness in the pre-modern Western world. They discuss whether the concept of forgiveness, as it is often understood today, was absent, or at all events more restricted in scope than has been commonly supposed, and what related ideas (such as clemency or reconciliation) may have taken the place of forgiveness. An introductory chapter reviews the conceptual territory of forgiveness and illuminates the potential breadth of the idea, enumerating the important questions a theory of the subject should explore. The following chapters examine forgiveness in the contexts of classical Greece and Rome; the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and Moses Maimonides; and the New Testament, the Church Fathers, and Thomas Aquinas.

    • Exceptionally broad coverage - essays by leading experts examine the topic in classical Greece and Rome as well as ancient and medieval Judaism and Christianity
    • Adopts a uniquely historical perspective in discussing the idea of forgiveness, revealing that the concept differed according to its historical context
    • Provides a variety of viewpoints, incorporating writings by scholars of philosophy, theology and history
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “When and how did forgiveness become recognized as a moral attribute? The question has vexed – and divided – commentators for some years. This book admirably addresses the question in a series of wide-ranging chapters by a variety of experts. The editors have done the world of scholarship a great service by offering what I believe are now the definitive answers.” – Anthony Bash, Durham University

    “This volume, edited by two experts on forgiveness, is a rich and timely work treating the emotion and different conceptions of it in the ancient Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian traditions. Much recent work on emotions in antiquity has focused on anger, and so turning to this contrasting emotion is particularly welcome. It should appeal to graduate students and scholars in classics, philosophy, religious studies, and Judaic studies.” – Ruth Caston, University of Michigan

    “My previous work on forgiveness has been solidly in the analytic philosophical tradition, and this splendid collection has taught me how much that work can be improved by understanding the history of the concepts and emotions involved in forgiveness and its close relatives. Two distinguished scholars have invited scholars of comparable distinction to contribute essays that discuss the history of forgiveness (or what might mistakenly be taken as forgiveness if we hastily project contemporary understandings) from ancient Greece and Rome, through medieval Judaism, and concluding with Aquinas. This book confirms L. P. Hartley’s famous remark that ‘the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ and reveals this foreign country as a fascinating place from which all who are interested in forgiveness can learn a great deal.” – Jeffrie G. Murphy, Arizona State University

    “This book seeks to reveal the relationship between conceptual and historical inquiry. Its excellent chapters offer, through a series of well-chosen examples, an illuminating promenade from Homer to Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas, through Seneca, Jesus and the Rabbis, on a topic of at once perennial and contemporary great significance. The book opens up new vistas for the interdisciplinary study of the roots of Western cultural tropes. It is significant, in particular, that the editors, a classicist and a philosopher, recognize the necessity to integrate Jewish and Christian approaches, side by side with the Greco-Roman tradition, in order to decipher our own cultural inheritance.” – Guy Stroumsa, Oxford University

    “To sum up, here is a work that opens up numerous avenues of research, which are the more interesting inasmuch as the authors sometimes defend different positions from one another (for instance, the existence of the idea of forgiveness in Menander, or the question of unconditional forgiveness in the Judeo-Christian world). The idea of comparing the values of three societies that have been foundational for our culture – Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian – has proved highly fertile, and it is appropriate to thank the authors and editors for this attractive and successful study.” --BMCR

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521119481
    • length: 278 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface Charles L. Griswold
    Part I. The Territory Philosophically Considered:
    1. What is forgiveness? Adam Morton
    Part II. Forgiveness among the Greeks:
    2. Assuaging rage: remorse, repentance and forgiveness in the classical world David Konstan
    3. Achilles, Psammenitus and Antigone: forgiveness in Homer and beyond Page duBois
    4. All in the family: forgiveness and reconciliation in new comedy Kathryn Gutzwiller
    Part III. Forgiveness among the Romans:
    5. The anger of tyrants and the forgiveness of kings Susanna M. Braund
    6. Gender and forgiveness in the early Roman empire Kristina Milnor
    7. 'To forgive is divine': gods as models of forgiveness in late republican and early imperial Rome Zsuzsanna Várhelyi
    Part IV. Judaic and Christian Forgiveness:
    8. Mercy, repentance, and forgiveness in ancient Judaism Michael L. Morgan
    9. A man had two sons: the question of forgiveness in Luke 15 Peter S. Hawkins
    10. Jesus' conditional forgiveness Jennifer W. Knust
    11. Forgiveness in patristic philosophy: the importance of repentance and the centrality of grace Ilaria L. E. Ramelli
    12. Forgiveness and perfection: Maimonides, Aquinas, and medieval departures from Aristotle Jonathan Jacobs.

  • Editors

    Charles L. Griswold, Boston University
    Charles L. Griswold is Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy at Boston University. Among his books are Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration (Cambridge University Press 2007), Adam Smith and the Virtues of Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press 1999), Self-knowledge in Plato's Phaedrus (1986) and an edited volume, Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings (1988). He also serves on the editorial advisory boards of Ancient Philosophy, Theoria and the International Journal of the Classical Tradition.

    David Konstan, New York University
    David Konstan is Professor of Classics at New York University and Emeritus Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Brown University. His most recent books include Forgiveness: The Origins of a Moral Idea (Cambridge University Press 2010) and 'A Life Worthy of the Gods': The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus (2008). He was president of the American Philological Association in 1999 and serves on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals.


    Charles L. Griswold, Adam Morton, David Konstan, Page duBois, Kathryn Gutzwiller, Susanna M. Braund, Kristina Milnor, Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, Michael L. Morgan, Peter S. Hawkins, Jennifer W. Knust, Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, Jonathan Jacobs

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.