PREFACE Voices of Ancient Greece and Rome: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life contains 45 original documents dealing with various aspects of day-to-day life in the Greco-Roman world. The starting point for the collection is the Trojan War, ca. 1200 BCE the time span stretches all the way to the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian, in the early fourth century CE, thus encompassing some 1,500 years of human experience in these two foundational civilizations. This time period continues to attract the interest of modern audiences witness, for example, the recent box-office success of movies like Troy, Gladiator, and 300. Furthermore, the ancient world lives among us and around us virtually everywhere it is difficult to walk the streets of any downtown American city without seeing the influence of Greek temple archi- tecture in modern buildings: facades displaying pediments, triglyphs, metopes, with Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic columns holding up the roofs. Even our currency has gotten into the act. The architect who designed the famous Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was greatly influenced by his knowledge of ancient Greek architecture, and anyone who wishes to see a rendering of this monument need only fish around in his/her pocket for a penny, or wallet for a five-dollar bill. Much of our American culture—from architecture to legal codes and systems to sports (think Olympic Games) to government to language to mathematics to philosophy—owes its inspiration, even its existence, to a Greek or Roman predecessor. PRIMARY DOCUMENTS If we wish to truly understand history, it is necessary to delve into the writings of people who “lived it,” those who participated in the events of their times, or at least witnessed these events. People like the Greek poet Pindar (518–438 BCE), who could arguably be called the western world’s first sportswriter, a man who traveled to the great athletic meetings of his time, including the Olympics, and wrote poetry glorifying the victorious athletes. Or people like the Athenian philosopher Socrates (ca. 469–399 BCE), who eloquently served as his own defense lawyer and argued his own case in one of the most famous trials in the annals of western jurisprudence. Or people like Pliny the Younger (62–114 CE), a sophisticated Roman gentleman, who had seen what the rivers of Italy could do when swollen by flood- waters, and wrote about the ways in which flood victims dealt with the unwelcome devas- tation caused by the onrushing water. vii
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