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Volume 3: Dictionaries of Civilization series. By Stefania Ratto. Translated by Rosanna M. Giammanco Frongia. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2008. Pg. 384. 323 Color Illustrations, 18 b/w Photographs, 19 Line Illustrations, 2 Maps.) ISBN: 978-0-520-25647-7.

Reviewed by Herbert White - June 13, 2008

In Greece, the third volume in the Dictionaries of Civilization series, Stefania Ratto presents a gripping historical and cultural survey of Ancient Greek civilization. Greek mythology is also covered in this encyclopedic styled guide book. This historical narrative contained in this book is enhanced by the inclusion of copious illustrations of Greek artifacts ranging from reliefs and statuary to everyday household items and pictures of archaeological sites.

While not exhaustive in scope, this handy travel-sized book presents a detailed and illuminating overview of Ancient Greek history interlaced with a survey of everyday life in Ancient Greece, including Greek religion, culture, politics, architecture, and cities. An overview of major Greek archaeological sites and monuments is also included.

The text is this volume is organized thematically, with sections devoted to: Entries withing each section are organized alphabetically, with vivid multi-page spreads for each entry. The entries in this dictionary include not only a definition or overview of the subject under discussion, but also includes illustrations that augment the information provided. In addition, all the illustrations in this book are accompanied by informative commentaries that describe the item illustrated as well as providing relevant historical data related to the item. A handy list of major events or dates related to the given topic is also included with each entry.

A sampling of the entries that you will find in this volume include: Written in a clear, non-academic jargon, Greece is a reference guide that will serve students of all ages, and which will delight anyone with an interest in ancient Greece. This book can also be used as a guidebook by physical and armchair travelers interested in visiting ancient Greek sites.

Related Reviews:

Games and Sanctuaries in Ancient Greece: Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia, Nemea, Athens, by Panos Valavanis.
A lavishly illustrated coffee-table book that chronicles the history and archaeology surrounding the Ancient Greek Games and the Sanctuaries at which they were held.

Great Moments in Greek Archaeology, by Vasileios Petrakos, et al.
This groundbreaking book is lavishly illustrated with 658 Color illustrations, and includes 25 essays that provide a detailed overview of the discovery and excavations of some of the greatest monuments, shipwrecks, and sculptures from Ancient Greece.

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