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Plato's Pigs and Other Ruminations
Ancient Guides to Living with Nature


  • Date Published: October 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108839587

£ 31.99

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About the Authors
  • The Greeks and Romans have been charged with destroying the ecosystems within which they lived. In this book, however, M. D. Usher argues rather that we can find in their lives and thought the origin of modern ideas about systems and sustainability, important topics for humans today and in the future. With chapters running the gamut of Greek and Roman experience – from the Presocratics and Plato to Roman agronomy and the Benedictine Rule – Plato's Pigs brings together unlikely bedfellows, both ancient and modern, to reveal surprising connections. Lively prose and liberal use of anecdotal detail, including an afterword about the author's own experiments with sustainable living on his sheep farm in Vermont, add a strong authorial voice. In short, this is a unique, first-of-its-kind book that is sure to be of interest to anyone working in Classics, environmental studies, philosophy, ecology, or the history of ideas.

    • Introduces readers interested in the environment, ecology, and sustainable living to the important contributions made to these topics by the ancient Greeks and Romans
    • Engages seriously with modern science and ecology as well as the Classical sources
    • Full of lively anecdotal detail based on personal experience
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… rich and ambitious … this is a work of remarkable erudition, displaying a mastery not only of a rich array of ancient philosophers, poets and politicians, but also of modern physics, philosophy, economics, agronomy and theology.' William Brockliss, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    'Not only is this book informative, educational, and persuasive, it is a genuine pleasure to read. Usher's congenialliterary style is engaging, so the book should appeal to a wide readership.' P. A. Streveler, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108839587
    • length: 282 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction. Environmental philology
    1. Debts to nature
    2. Anaximander for the anthropocene
    3. Heraclitus and the quantum
    4. A city for pigs
    5. Mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon
    6. Cynics and stoics
    7. Roman revolutions
    8. Community rule
    Afterword. Works and days and then some.

  • Resources for

    Plato's Pigs and Other Ruminations

    M. D. Usher

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  • Author

    M. D. Usher, University of Vermont
    M. D. Usher is Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature and a faculty member in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont. He is the author of academic books and articles in the field of classics, including A Student's Seneca (2006), and has also written books for children, poems, and two opera libretti. With his wife he also built, owns, and operates Works and Days Farm in Shoreham, Vermont, where he has been engaged in farming for over twenty years.

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