SAHA Steering Group member Professor Jason König’s book, The Folds of Olympus (Princeton University Press, 2022), has been shortlisted for this year’s London Hellenic Prize.
The Folds of Olympus has been described by Richard Buxton as ‘a magnificent piece of scholarship that will decisively shape this area of study for the foreseeable future’. It offers a cultural and literary history of mountains in classical antiquity over more than 1000 years, from archaic Greece to late antiquity. It looks among other things at mountains in ancient religion and pilgrimage, mountains as objects of aesthetic response in art and literature (arguing that there is more continuity than normally assumed between ancient descriptions of mountains and modern accounts of the picturesque and the sublime), mountains as places of warfare and conquest, and the role of mountains as places of work and habitation that played an integral role in the life of ancient cities.
Aimed at readers of ancient history and literature as well as those interested in mountains and the environment, the book offers a powerful account of the landscape at the heart of much Greek and Roman culture. The book engages widely with the modern history of mountains and mountaineering, and the present-day landscapes of Greece and the wider Mediterranean. It also aims to bring break new ground by bringing ancient Greek and Roman literature more into dialogue with current research in the environmental humanities.
The London Hellenic Prize.is awarded for an original work published ‘on a subject relating to, or inspired by, Hellenic civilization, culture, history or literature’. The Folds of Olympus was previously longlisted for the Runciman Award, Anglo-Hellenic League.
Professor König said:
‘I’m delighted to hear that The Folds of Olympus has been shortlisted for this year's London Hellenic Prize. I am grateful to all at Princeton University Press. I hope that the book will help to bring more attention to some areas of ancient history and literature that are still not much studied, and to some of the amazing mountain sites of mainland Greece that are hardly ever visited.’
Professor König is Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews, and co-director of the St Andrews Centre for Ancient Environmental Studies. He works broadly on the Greek literature and culture of the Roman empire (from the late Hellenistic period to late antiquity, approx. 200 BCE – 500 CE), and on the history and representation of human-environment relations in classical antiquity.