Glyn Davis reviews 'Poiesis' by Peter Acton

Glyn Davis reviews 'Poiesis' by Peter Acton

Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens

by by Peter Acton

Oxford University Press, $74 hb, 400 pp, 9780199335930

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, and has been Vice-Chancellor of

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On what terms should we interrogate the past? Ancient life can seem essentially unknowable, a place where everything is different, glimpsed only in the words of those who lived then and surviving traces of material culture.

The Cambridge classical scholar Sir Moses Finley argued for an interpretation of ancient life bounded by then current civic and religious beliefs. Finley’s The Ancient Economy (1973) suggested that economic life in classical Greece and Rome was not distinct and separate, with its own language, but was tied intimately to social life. We err therefore by translating current notions of economic motivation to a world of slaves and gods, closeted women, and limited technology. The ancients did not dwell on capital formation, efficiency, or economic growth.

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Published in March 2015, no. 369

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