From the informal games of Homer's time to the highly organized contests of the Roman world, Miller has compileda trove of ancient sources: Plutarch on boxing, Aristotle on the pentathlon, Philostratos on the buying and selling of victories, Vitruvius on literary competitions, and Xenophon on female body building. Arete offers readers an absorbing lesson in the culture of Greek athletics from the greatest of teachers, the ancients themselves, and demonstrates that the concepts of virtue, skill, pride, valor, and nobility embedded in the word arete are only part of the story from antiquity.
``Arete'' was a word used by ancient Greeks to convey the sense of skill, excellence, and honor in their sports. This collection explores arete in 192 readings drawn from ancient texts translated, edited, and annotated by Miller (classical archaeology, Univ. of California). Thematically arranged, it spans eight centuries, beginning c.750 B.C., and describes athletes, individual sports, equipment, festivals, amateurism, nationalism, and the involvement of politics, society, women, and the arts. This new edition has twice the selections of the first (Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1979), benefiting from recently discovered texts and from Miller's expanded scholarship. However, it does not have the breadth, in text as well as illustrations, of Waldo E. Sweet's Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1987). An index provides access to subjects, writers, and definitions of words. For large sports collections that do not have Sweet's treatment.-- Donald W. Max well, Stone Hills Lib. Network, Bloomington, Ind.
Stephen G. Miller is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Nemea Excavations. He is the author of The Prytaneion (1978), coauthor of Nemea: A Guide to Site and Museum (1990), and general editor of the forthcoming publications from the Nemea excavations, all published by the University of California Press.