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Robin Lane Fox's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Robin Lane Fox recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Robin Lane Fox's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Jews in the Greek Age

One of our century's greatest authorities on the ancient world gives us here a vivid account of the Jewish people from the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE to the revolt of the Maccabees. It is a rich story of Jewish social, economic, and intellectual life and of the relations between the Jewish community and the Hellenistic rulers and colonizers of Palestine--a historical narrative told with consummate skill.

Elias Bickerman portrays Jewish life in the context of a broader picture of the Near East and traces the interaction between the Jewish and Greek...
Recommended by Robin Lane Fox, and 1 others.

Robin Lane FoxThis is a masterly book by one of the supreme scholars. Elias Bickerman was born in St Petersburg and left in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution to go to Germany, where, as a Jew, he eventually came under the threat of persecution. He was obliged to leave for Paris because the Nazis were in power. He ended up destitute on the shores of America. But he had already been trained by some of... (Source)

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The Inner Citadel

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today—as they have been over the centuries—as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.

Written by the Roman emperor for his own private guidance and self-admonition, the...

Recommended by Robin Lane Fox, and 1 others.

Robin Lane FoxWhat is fascinating here is that he takes on the sort of ‘spiritual diary’ which Marcus Aurelius kept for his own interest. These meditations have often been seen as a rather rambling collection of maxims and thoughts. Brilliantly, they are brought into line by Pierre Hadot, who understands them as spiritual exercises. (Source)

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This classic biography was first published thirty years ago and has since established itself as the standard account of Saint Augustine's life and teaching. The remarkable discovery recently of a considerable number of letters and sermons by Augustine has thrown fresh light on the first and last decades of his experience as a bishop. These circumstantial texts have led Peter Brown to reconsider some of his judgments on Augustine, both as the author of the Confessions and as the elderly bishop preaching and writing in the last years of Roman rule in north Africa. Brown's reflections on... more
Recommended by Robin Lane Fox, Paula Fredriksen, and 2 others.

Robin Lane FoxPeter Brown’s immense strength is placing the changes in Augustine’s outlook against the changing tone and social pressures of the eras and locations in which he moved. (Source)

Paula FredriksenBrown relates a life story that lets us understand Augustine, sympathise with him and even to like and to respect him. That’s great writing. (Source)

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Drawing on the abundant material available for the study of religious experience in late antiquity, Professor Dodds examines the personal religious attitudes and experiences common to pagans and Christians in the period between Marcus Aurelius and Constantine. World-hatred and asceticism, dreams and states of possession, and pagan and Christian mysticism are all discussed. Finally, Dodds considers both pagan views of Christianity and Christian views of paganism as they emerge in the literature of the time. Although primarily written for social and religious historians, this study will also...

Recommended by Robin Lane Fox, and 1 others.

Robin Lane FoxPeter Brown and ER Dodds were both Irishmen. Dodds was a precursor to Peter Brown and an iconic figure while Brown was writing. There are some subtle differences between the two. Dodds is particularly interested in individual case studies of figures known through literary texts. He was a superb literary scholar but as he had less of a grasp of the social setting I think he found it harder to... (Source)

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The World of Late Antiquity 150-750

This remarkable study in social and cultural change explains how and why the Late Antique world, between c. 150 and c. 750, came to differ from "Classical civilization."

These centuries, as the author demonstrates, were the era in which the most deeply rooted of ancient institutions disappeared for all time. By 476 the Roman empire had vanished from western Europe; by 655 the Persian empire had vanished from the Near East.

Peter Brown, Professor of History at Princeton University, examines these changes and men's reactions to them, but his account shows that the period...
Recommended by Robin Lane Fox, Judith Herrin, and 2 others.

Robin Lane FoxWhat I like about this book is that it is focused on cultural, religious and philosophical changes, particularly in the Greek-speaking world where they were strongest. (Source)

Judith HerrinReally, Late Antiquity wasn’t much of a concept before that book came out. In very few words he managed to sketch out a whole new geography. (Source)

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