Iliad in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – (Shop)

Take it Home: The Best Books on Ancient Greece

Inspired by our exhibition Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World, our Book Buyer gives us her insider picks

A must-see for fans of ancient Greek history, art, and mythology, Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World chronicles the three centuries between Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C. and the establishment of the Roman Empire in the first century B.C., known as the Hellenistic period. Bringing together over 250 artworks from the period—marble, bronze, and terracotta sculpture, gold jewelry, glass vessels, and engraved gems—the exhibition is a testament to the legacy and influence of artists from the period.

This rich expanse of history has served as a point of inspiration and debate for scholars and writers for centuries. Always popular with our visitors, the stunning catalogue was created by the exhibition’s curators, Carlos A. Picón and Seán Hemingway. The illustrated volume examines the rich diversity of art forms that arose through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic kingdoms, placing special emphasis on Pergamon. You can shop the catalogue by clicking here.

We spoke with our Book Buyer, Lauren Gallagher, to get her expert picks on the best books to take home from the show. For each exhibition, Lauren is tasked with sourcing books on the subject at hand, often sifting through hundreds of titles to bring us only the very best. Asked about her process, she said, “Books for Pergamon, as well as for any of our exhibitions, are selected by reading through the available material provided by the Museum or curators, including the full art object list; reviewing recent, available trade publications on the topic; and keeping in mind our incredibly broad customer base. Our audience is global and varied, and our shows attract everyone from academics, scholars, and educators to laymen, art and history buffs, and children.”

 

The Iliad

 

“Homer’s The Iliad tends to get short shrift compared to The Odyssey, but Gillian Cross’s retelling, combined with Neil Packer’s rousing illustrations, will hopefully make some converts among young readers. Geared toward advanced middle-grade readers and pre-teens, this edition captures the excitement and terror of Homer’s original story, which ultimately shows that war is catastrophic for both sides and is only ever “won” in the most technical sense. The exchange between Hector and his wife Andromache remains one of the most powerful examples of pathos in literature across all time.”