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Admittedly there's no beating the OCD but this is a brilliant alternative. The entries come from the OCD itself but it excludes the bibliographies per subject - which frankly are out of date anyway. As the other reviewer here has mentioned, the entries are wide ranging and eclectic, but always informative, readable and stimulating. I have the hardback version (necessary for the amount of referencing it gets!) and the book itself is nicely produced with good weight paper and excellent illustrations. Whether you're a serious student or an interested amateur, this is a brilliant buy.
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on 30 March 2001
This dictionary is a must have for any classics student, or teachers for that matter! It covers a wide variety of topics from Roman empire to magic, and from literature to cookery in antiquity. It has an easy to read format, contains over two dozen maps and colour plates and many more black and white plates. It is suitable for anyone studying this subject, and I would recommend it especially to those of you who are studying at A-Level and degree (ie, 16+). The 'Companion' takes the most important entries, in full, from its sister book, the Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed) to create a cheaper and less weighty version, great for those who are on a budget. Topics that require a little more explainaiton are given longer articles so that this extra detail can be added. The excellent editing means that only the best information is supplied by the best authors in the business. This truely is a vital companion for anyone who about to venture classical civilization.
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This is the standard companion text for anyone studying the classical period, a must-have really.
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on 7 August 2012
I've come to classical civilization via the history of mathematics so my following criticism needs to be read with this in mind.

Magna Grecia produced the biggest leaps in mathematical development in the history of the subject, with Euclid's Elements never being out of print for over 2 millenia. With this is mind why are there not separate entries for the most famous geometers: Archimedes, Eudoxus, Ptolemy, Appolonius etc. No mention of the 3 classical problems of antiquity is also a shocking omission, especially as the research program around them was one of the main motors of greek mathematical development.

I fear this relegation of mathematics is due either to a belief that the readership of this book would not be interested or its a topic that the editors did not feel personally comfortable with. Plato appreciated the importance of the subject, placing an inscription over his Academy which I've twisted for the title of this review.

However, given the amount that has to be crammed into a single volume I have so far found the entries to be excellent. And, it does it's job, helping to provide information on something that might be relatively fleetingly, but intregingly, mentioned in some other book that one is reading.

For the amount I paid for my second-hand copy I feel a bit mean in only giving 4 stars.
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on 17 August 2012
There are always people who will express dissatisfaction with a book that attempts to cover everything on a given subject. They will then tend to disregard or fail to grasp what the proper objective of a book is. This means that experts will always find omissions, generalisations and, of course will vehemently disagree with the authors and contributors in this book.

In this instance,this book is a COMPANION to classical civilisation. It contains thousands of entries and articles relating to probably every subject pertaining to the classical world. This book is an excellent guide to the general student of the classics in that it will explain subjects to you and from there, the student can look elsewhere for more detailed elucidation.

The entries are easily understandable and there are numerous longer essays on major subjects (Socrates, Drama etc.) which makes the book even more valuable.

The book is excellent value for money bearing in mind the wealth of information contained therein. Books like these are not the be all and end all for studies, but guide you and inform. Sufficient to understand the general principles of a subject. Highly recommended.
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on 9 April 2014
A very helpful book that introduces the Classical Civilization. I am thrilled with the detailed information that provides. However, you cannot find anything in it. It offers information only for the very important facts and persons of the Ancient Greek and Latin world.
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on 6 February 2014
This book has nothing to do with GCSE classical civilisation - which is why I bought it. Having said that it is full on short facts and information about the classical period so I was happy to keep it as a semi-reference book.
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on 30 December 2014
Fantastic book for reference although I have enjoyed dipping into it and reading sections at random. Well written and provides a good grounding on a range of areas - great companion to the dictionary!
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on 17 March 2013
This really is not a good as one might think. Yes, it covers a wide range of subjects and people from the Classical World but the descriptions are frequently sketchy, vague, confusing and have little in the way of charting changes over time. Also, it has an infuriating habit of not giving one an entry on the subject one wants. That said, it does cover a vast amount of information and some of the larger sections, especially the ones about particularly important individuals, are excellent.
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on 15 December 2013
I bought both the book and cd rom and the cd rom was definitely the better buy. That said the book was very handy for some facts and info but I felt it was maybe too vague at times.
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