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Look Inside Hostages and Hostage-Taking in the Roman Empire

Hostages and Hostage-Taking in the Roman Empire


  • Date Published: April 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521174206

£ 37.99

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About the Authors
  • This book examines hostage-taking in ancient Rome, which was a standard practice of international diplomacy. Hundreds of foreign hostages, typically adolescents, were detained as the empire grew in the Republic and early Principate. As prominent figures at the center of diplomacy and as 'exotic' representatives of the outside world, they drew considerable attention in Roman literature and other artistic media. Our sources discuss hostages in terms of the geopolitics that motivated their detention, as well as in accordance with other comparable structures of power. Hostages, thus, could be located in a social hierarchy, a family network, in a cultural continuum, or in a sexual role. In these schemes, an individual Roman, or Rome in general, becomes not just a conqueror, but also a patron, father, teacher, or generically male. By focusing on the characterizations of hostages in Roman culture, we glean Roman attitudes toward ethnicity and imperial power.

    • Was the first full-scale investigation of an important feature of Roman diplomacy and international relations
    • Takes an intriguing, interdisciplinary approach that includes discussion of multiple genres of literature, as well as archaeological evidence
    • Contributes to growing literature on 'Romanization' and contributes to debates about assimilation and resistance in imperial societies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Allen earns credit for focusing on hostages, an issue often neglected in the study of Roman history. Allen's approach by relational category is an illuminating one. He succeeds in throwing interesting light on the mindset of the Roman elite culture and its ways of negotiating and producing its power. The proofreading and copy-editing of the book is of consistently high quality.' De novis libris iudicia

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521174206
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Creditor-collateral
    3. Host-guest
    4. Conqueror-trophy
    5. Father-son
    6. Teacher-student
    7. Masculine-feminine
    8. Polybious as a hostage
    9. Tacitus on hostage-taking and heroism.

  • Author

    Joel Allen, City University of New York

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