The War Come Home is the title of a book by Deborah Cohen (2001) that shows on its dust jacket a disabled war veteran after World War I—the book’s topic. It is easy to imagine books with other dust jackets, featuring the city-scape of ruins in Dresden after World War II, the radiation burns on the body of a Hiroshima victim, or troves of looted art discovered somewhere in a cave or salt mine. Such images remind us of the all too familiar fact that modern war, though fought along front lines, took a terrible toll not only on those fighting it but, far from these fronts, on the cities, the civilian populations, and the cultures of the fighting countries—on what is often called the home front. It is only recently, that the distinction between war front and home front has been blurrend almost completely by the fluidity and ubiquity of modern war and violent conflict with its guerilla and terrorist components that equally affect military personnel and civilian population.
Ancient wars were mostly decided in battles and sieges: the fighting was limited to certain more or less clearly defined areas. Yet in multiple ways wars also had a profound impact on the communities of the fighting soldiers and on others that were not even directly involved. Although some aspects of this important topic have been discussed, it has hardly been explored systematically in scholarship on ancient warfare—and for good reasons: ancient sources are rarely explicit in discussing the issues involved; like other matters of daily life, this one was known well enough to everybody, and there was no need to dwell on it in any detail, except perhaps for particularly horrific or sensational cases. Yet the experience of war was so pervasive that hardly any category of ancient evidence is not deeply touched by it. If we throw our net widely and collect all available types of information, there is much to be found that is of great interest especially in illuminating the often neglected human dimension of ancient warfare.
The theme of this seminar is intended to raise a wide range of questions about all aspects of social, political, economic, and cultural life in all societies and periods of Graeco-Roman antiquity and to involve the study of all categories of evidence (historical, literary, documentary, archaeological, and artistic) as well as all disciplines and subdisciplines that share in the exploration of classical antiquity. Efforts to compare Graeco-Roman experiences with those of other ancient societies or ancient with modern ones will be welcome but, of course, not necessary.
A German version of the seminar's proceedings may be downloaded here.