“Kromayer & Veith” Republished?

The plain of Philippi, seen from the site where Octavian's men stood.

That I love classics does not mean that I cannot put them into perspective. Cultural contributions from ancient Babylonia and the world of Islam are just as important to us as contributions from Greek and Rome. It is good that scholarship has widened its focus, but it has come at a price. It used to be easier to invoke help from non-specialists, who felt honored to contribute to the study of ancient Greece and Rome, which they believed to be important.

Take, for instance, those German officers of the Wilhelminian and Weimar age. They had often visited the gymnasium (a secondary school with much emphasis on the classics), and had a sound knowledge of Greek and Latin. Later, they visited the military academy, and they were able to look at a landscape like a Roman officer: they knew which places were suitable for building a camp. The Roman forts along the Lippe were discovered in this way, and a new chapter was added to Roman military history.

Among the greatest monuments of this type of Altertumswissenschaft are the books by Johannes Kromayer and Georg Veith, with titles like Antike Schlachtfelder and Schlachten-Atlas zur antiken Kriegsgeschichte. Based on reports by German officers, these books contain reconstructions of ancient battles, illustrated with beautiful maps. The project was never without danger: one of the military men working for Kromayer and Veith was murdered in Turkey when he tried to investigate Caesar‘s Zela campaign. Often, these maps are still the best we have: Dyrrhachium is a case in point. On the other hand, sometimes new interpretations have been offered (Pharsalus for example), but this is only rarely.

The books have been out of print for a long time, but apparently, the publisher who holds the rights, is interested in a small reprint – about two hundred sets of Antike Schlachtfelder. That’s 2515 pages, four volumes, and thirty-nine splendid maps for €399,20 if you pre-order (otherwise, it’s €512 in the shops). That’s a lot of money, I know, but I can assure you that it’s actually cheap, and the book ought to be in any academic library worthy of that name. If you are interested, you can read more over here.

2 Responses to “Kromayer & Veith” Republished?

  1. Stefan says:

    Since both Kromayer and Veith died more than 70 years ago (Kromayer in 1934, Veith in 1925), their books are in the public domain in Europe and many other countries. So Olms in Hildesheim (Germany) can not be regarded as “the publisher who holds the rights” – any other publishing house willing to take the business risk could commission a reprint.

  2. Justin says:

    I love the way Germans reduce long, complex terms into single words, like Altertumswissenschaft, Hoechsgeschwindigkeitsbegrenzung and Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

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