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Play and Games in Classical Antiquity: Definition, Transmission, Reception/Jouer dans l'Antiquité classique. Définition, transmission, réception.Collection Jeu/ Play/Spiel 2, Liège, Presses Universitaires de Liège

Véronique Dasen; Marco Vespa

Play and games provide a privileged access to past societal norms, values, identities, and collective imaginary. People play all over the world and throughout history, but they do not play the same games, nor do they attribute the same meaning and function to play. The aim of this pluridisciplinary volume is to investigate how this past patrimony can be methodologically reconstructed.

Three sections address first how the Ancients defined play and games by analysing their vocabulary in order to reconstruct an emic definition. Beyond the common association of child and play (in Greek, paidia, ‘game’, pais, the child, and paideia, ‘education’, share the same root, in Latin ludus means ‘play’, ‘school’, ‘rhetorical games’), the views are more complex and nuanced. Identifying ludic material and practices archaeologically as well as in iconography is also a debatable issue. The second section examines the sources available and their bias associated with literary genre, such as oniromancy, proverbs, epigrams and the lexicon of Pollux. A major challenge is the reconstruction of a mostly oral patrimony, of lost children’s lore and agency. The third section examines the transmission process of these practices from one generation to the next, addressing crucial issues about continuities and discontinuities, as well as about the definition of a “traditional” game.

This collective volume is the first major publication of the ERC Advanced project Locus Ludi. The Cultural Fabric of Play and Games in Classical Antiquity (PI Véronique Dasen), that aims at constructing the foundations of a new vision of ancient ludic culture thanks to a pluridisciplinary approach.

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