FURIES – Background Readings

Posted: December 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


I am deeply grateful to the many scholars whose research and writings helped me bring ancient Alexandria back to life for FURIES. The following list is not comprehensive (you should see my library – it rivals Alexandria’s!) but captures my key research material for those of you who may want to read further.

–          Ptolemaic Alexandria – P.M.Fraser – this is the bible of ancient Alexandrian research, a stunningly detailed work that intimidated the hell out of me the first time I picked it up. Well, the first volume of it at least – there are four volumes in total, and they itemized not only how much we know but, with scholarly precision, how much we don’t.

–          The Hellenistic Age – Peter Green – a highly readable resource, providing fascinating historic context to Hellenistic times

–          Rise and Fall of Alexandria – Birthplace of the Modern Mind – Pollard and Reid

–          Library of Alexandria – edited by R Macleod

–          Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt – Napthali Lewis – Lewis was a noted papyrologist whose research into the writings found on the back of mummy wrappings from Egyptian tombs (many of which used recycled documents and personal letters) provided a treasure trove of details about daily life

–          Daily Life in Ancient Rome – Florence Dupont – Dupont has a lovely way of getting into the hearts and minds of the ancients.

–          Philo’s Alexandria – Dorothy Sayer – Philo is one of the few ancient scholars whose work documenting daily life in Alexandria survived to modern times. While maddeningly missing many key details, it gives a wonderful perspective, and Sayer’s slim little volume provides a great entry-point.

–          The Cambridge Guide to Ancient Greek Law – Cohen – Roman Egypt was a somewhat patchwork place in terms of its legal practices, an amalgam of Roman and Greek law with a Ptolemaic twist left over from the old empire.

–          Cicero Murder Trials – edited by Michael Grant – This wonderful piece helped not only define ancient jurisprudence for me (albeit almost a century before FURIES takes place, and a continent away) but gave me great insights into one of my heroes of the Roman world. Two thousand years later, Cicero still rocks.

–          Travel in the Ancient World –  Lionel Casson – Casson is the all-time authority in ancient travel, hands down. It’s a very entertaining read as well.

–          History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russell – I bought this book thirty years ago, finally got through it (mostly). I owe a huge debt of the dialogues about philosophy in FURIES to Russell’s scholarship.

–          Banking and Business in the Roman World – Andreu

–          Alexandria Rediscovered – Jean-Yves Empereur – There is some amazing archaeological work going on in Alexandria, and Empereur is at the heart of it. This is a gorgeous book and gave details about the city that haven’t seen the light of day in many centuries.

–          Betrayal : The Life and Lies of Bernie Madoff – Kirtzman – a fascinating account of the ultimate modern day schemer. These types of crooks don’t really change that much over the course of human history, do they?

–          The Greek Myths – Robert Graves – still a classic!

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