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The Committee of the London Hellenic Prize has announced a shortlist of five books for the prestigious prize. Whittled down from the longlist compiled late in 2020, the five contenders cover a range of topics from anti-semitism to classic history. The five finalists are:

Ravenna - Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe

 Judith Herrin

"In this engrossing account Judith Herrin explains how scholars, lawyers, doctors, craftsmen, cosmologists and religious luminaries were drawn to Ravenna where they created a cultural and political capital that dominated northern Italy and the Adriatic. As she traces the lives of Ravenna's rulers, chroniclers and inhabitants, Herrin shows how the city became the pivot between East and West; and the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures. The book offers a fresh account of the waning of Rome, the Gothic and Lombard invasions, the rise of Islam and the devastating divisions within Christianity. It argues that the fifth to eighth centuries should not be perceived as a time of decline from antiquity but rather, thanks to Byzantium, as one of great creativity - the period of 'Early Christendom'..." (Source: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/181/181868/ravenna/9780241954454.html)

Professor Judith Herrin is Professor Emerita and Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Classics, King's College, London. Professor Herrin, a researcher and historian of international repute, received the 2016 Heineken Prize for History for her pioneering research into Medieval cultures in the Mediterranean and establishing the crucial significance of the Byzantine Empire in history.

 

The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro

Rosa Andújar (Editor)

 "The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro gathers together for the first time the three 'Greek' plays of the MacArthur Genius Award-winning Chicanx playwright and performance artist.  Based respectively on Sophocles' Electra and Oedipus, and Euripides' Medea, Alfaro's Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey, and Mojada transplant ancient themes and problems into the 21st century streets of Los Angeles and New York, in order to give voice to the concerns of the Chicanx and wider Latinx communities." (Source: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-greek-trilogy-of-luis-alfaro-9781350155404/.) Alfaro, whose work has won plaudits and numerous awards and has been performed in Canada and Europe as well the USA, is recognised as an important voice in promoting an understanding of Chicanx and Latinx culture in the USA and of the socio-political realities of those communities.

In compiling this anthology, Rosa Andújar seeks to present Alfaro's work in a wider context and to present a more holistic view of his work. The volume begins with a richly annotated introduction and each play is preceded a separate introduction that contextualizes the dramatic work in a way that is both enthralling and enlightening. Andújar completes thje collection with an interview with Alfaro in which she discusses Alfaro's engagement with ancient Greek drama and his work with Chicanx communities.

Dr Rosa Andújar is Deputy Director of Liberal Arts & Lecturer in Liberal Arts at King's College, London. Dr. Andújar's current research is focused on two ancient Greek tragedy (especially the tragic chorus) and Hellenic classicisms in Latin America.

 

The Holocaust in Thessaloniki

Leon Saltiel

"The book narrates the last days of the once prominent Jewish community of Thessaloniki, the overwhelming majority of which was transported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in 1943.

Focusing on the Holocaust of the Jews of Thessaloniki, this book maps the reactions of the authorities, the Church and the civil society as events unfolded. In so doing, it seeks to answer the questions, did the Christian society of their hometown stand up to their defense and did they try to undermine or object to the Nazi orders? Utilizing new sources and interpretation schemes, this book will be a great contribution to the local efforts underway, seeking to reconcile Thessaloniki with its Jewish past and honour the victims of the Holocaust." (Source: https://www.routledge.com/The-Holocaust-in-Thessaloniki-Reactions-to-the-Anti-Jewish-Persecution/Saltiel/p/book/9780367193843)

Leon Saltiel has more than 15 years’ experience working on human rights issues around the world, the majority of which was working with the United Nations in Geneva. He is currently a Representative at UN Geneva and UNESCO and Coordinator on Countering Antisemitism for the World Jewish Congress. In addition to this work, Saltiel authored "Do Not Forget Me: Three Jewish Mothers Write to their Sons from the Ghetto of Thessaloniki" (Alexandria 2018) and he is a member of both the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece and of the Greek delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). (Source: https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/bio/leon-saltiel)

 

The Book of Wonders: The Many Lives of Euclid’s Elements

Benjamin Wardhaugh

"Euclid’s Elements of Geometry was a book that changed the world. In a sweeping history, Benjamin Wardhaugh traces how an ancient Greek text on mathematics – often hailed as the world’s first textbook – shaped two thousand years of art, philosophy and literature, as well as science and maths.

Thirteen volumes of mathematical definitions, propositions and proofs. Writing in 300 BC, Euclid could not have known his logic would go unsurpassed until the nineteenth century, or that his writings were laying down the very foundations of human knowledge.

Wardhaugh blasts the dust from Euclid’s legacy to offer not only a vibrant history of mathematics, told through people and invention, but also a broader story of culture. Telling stories from every continent, ranging between Ptolemy and Isaac Newton, Hobbes and Lewis Carrol, this is a history that dives from Ancient Greece to medieval Byzantium, early modern China, Renaissance Italy, the age of European empires, and our world today." (Source: https://harpercollins.co.uk/products/the-book-of-wonders-the-many-lives-of-euclids-elements-benjamin-wardhaugh?variant=32546630729806)

Dr. Benjamin Wardhaugh, an alumnus of Trinity College, University of Cambridge, is currently a Quondam Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford teaching mathematics, music, and history. He has authored several works exploring the interplay between mathematics and history.

 

Troy

Stephen Fry

"The siege of Troy is perhaps the most well-known tale in Western literature. Retold by Stephen Fry this autumn in all its passion and tragedy, Troy will be the third volume of his series examining and reimagining Greek myths and ancient history." (Source: https://www.stephenfry.com/2020/10/troy-coming-soon/)

Fry's series on Greek myths, legends, and history reimagines the stories, predominantly for a younger audience presenting the subjects in a more popular form, in the mold of Edith Hamilton, Robert Graves and Roger Lancelyn Green.  Fry cites the latter's The Tale of Troy (1958) as an influence on this volume, along with Homer, Virgil, and The Posthomerica by Quintus Smyrnaeus (4th century). He adopts a more contemporary tone that may have a broader appeal and seeks to make connections with the modern world giving the stories a renewed relevance.

Stephen Fry is an alumnus of Queen's College, University of Cambridge. After graduation Fry embarked on a long and varied career encompassing television, film, radio, and literature. His writing includes fiction and non-fiction both in print and online - he is noted for his prolific use of Twitter. His book, Troy, was preceded by Mythos (2018), a re-telling of myths concerning Greek goddesses and gods, and Heroes (2019), which focuses on the legends of mortals and demi-gods.

 

The final ajudication meeting will be held on Friday 7th May 2021 and the results posted on LHP's Twitter feed @LHellenicPrize. We will also bring yo the news on this website.

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