Ancient History Magazine – No 45, 2023
English | 60 pages | pdf | 31.67 MB
EDITORIAL – ANCIENT EXCESS
The term conspicuous consumption, ﬁrst coined by Thorstein Veblen in 1899, refers to the excessive expenditure by economic and social elites to demonstrate just how wealthy and powerful they are. Today, we see this type of behaviour among the superrich as they buy excessively large yachts, but also among everyday people as they buy over-priced branded clothes or fast, ﬂashy cars.
This may seem like a strange topic to dis-cuss in connection to antiquity. However, this is not a modern phenomenon. The ancients, particularly ancient elites, were well aware of the power of such expensive displays, as well as the dangers that competitions for wealth and power posed to their communities. The Greeks and Romans, for example, had laws preventing such display, regulating how much could be spent by private individuals on particular events, such as funerals.
The Romans, known for their decadence, feature in two of the articles in this issue, but the other articles venture further abroad, both geo-graphically and chronologically. From the Celts to the Mycenaean Greeks, this issue explores all the many ways elites throughout the ancient world expressed their power and wealth.
Owain Williams Editor, Ancient History Magazine