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Bringing in the Sheaves

Bringing in the Sheaves: Economy and Metaphor in the Roman World

  • Book Info
    Bringing in the Sheaves
    Book Description:

    The work features an edition of the reaper inscription, and a commentary on it. It is also lavishly illustrated to demonstrate the important iconic and pictorial dimensions of the story.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6159-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Tables and Maps
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction/Preface
    (pp. xv-2)

    This is not a book. Not at least in the ordinary sense of a compact and unitary piece of writing. It is rather the reflection of a series of oral presentations on questions about a peculiar human activity, that of harvesting. This trek of mine through the problems posed by the work of reaping cereal crops in Roman antiquity began with a gesture from Alison Keith. Her invitation to deliver the Robson Classical Lectures at the University of Toronto provoked me to think, again, about a conundrum whose various dimensions of work, action, technology, and thought had occasionally piqued my...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Under the Burning Sun
    (pp. 3-47)

    In listening to verses composed at the dawn of Greek poetry, we hear the vivid story of how the divine blacksmith Hephaistos forged a new suit of armour for the warrior Achilles. The rhythmic words in which Homer details the decoration of the hero’s new shield feature the first harvesting scene known in Western literature.¹ In describing how Hephaistos hammered out the picture of reapers at work on the warrior’s shield, the poet depicts a basic economic activity that underwrote the existence of the community in both war and peace.

    He placed on it the estate of a great man...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Primus in arvis/First in the Fields
    (pp. 48-92)

    The town of Mactaris was a typical municipality in the African provinces of Rome’s western empire. A small but prosperous rural centre, it was set in the rugged hills of the Dorsal, the mountainous backbone and watershed that divides the northern and southern ecologies of present-day Tunisia. As a peripheral community, Mactaris was fixed at the extreme southwestern edge of a zone of dense urban settlements that fanned outwards from the provincial capital of Carthage. At a little over ninety miles southwest of the great metropolis, the town was also set at the junction of important east-west and north-south ecological...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Sickle and Scythe/Man and Machine
    (pp. 93-149)

    The great transition out of the endless and remorseless regimen of hand labour that had ruled the world of the grain harvest from the dawn of agriculture happened in the long nineteenth century. In a whole host of sectors, this new age marked a watershed between the premodern and the modern worlds, and not only in the realm of technology. In the field of harvesting it was no different. The year 1831 witnessed the invention of a machine that could reap. The development of a mechanical reaper was part of an amazing kaleidoscope of scientific and technological innovations and applications...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Grim Reapers
    (pp. 150-220)

    The reaping scene hammered onto the shield of Achilles calls to mind the harvest accompanied by exultant feelings of triumph and joy. Such celebratory emotional responses are understandably associated with sentiments of happiness and exuberance that were evoked by the jubilance of the season: the rolling gold, the bumper crops, and all the bounty. The spirits of rejoicing were surely like the emotions evoked by the composers of the songs in the biblical book of the Psalms, especially the verses frequently quoted by Christian preachers in the late antique world of the Maktar Harvester.

    Those who sow in tears


  10. CHAPTER FIVE Blade of Vengeance
    (pp. 221-270)

    Amid the terrors of the late summer of 1941, Ukrainians in villages south of Gomel faced two grim prospects. One was the onrush of the heavy armour of Heinz Guderian’s Second Panzer Group. The other was a threatening order from the Stalinist state to join a forced evacuation to a safe haven in a remote place to the east of the Volga. The catastrophe of the Holodomor, the harvest of sorrow, had embedded in Ukrainians a pervasive fear and an angry rejection of deadly solutions imposed on them by outsiders. The women in the fields began to resist the demand...

  11. Appendix 1: Harvesting Contracts from Roman Egypt and Italy
    (pp. 271-280)
  12. Appendix 2: The Maktar Harvester Inscription: Text and Commentary
    (pp. 281-298)
  13. Appendix 3: The Gallo-Roman Reaping Machines: Iconographic Data
    (pp. 299-304)
  14. Abbreviations of Sources
    (pp. 305-308)
  15. Tables
    (pp. 309-312)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 313-414)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 415-450)
  18. Index
    (pp. 451-456)
  19. Illustration
    (pp. 457-457)