The Gift in Antiquity
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The Gift in Antiquity presents a collection of 14 original essays that apply French sociologist Marcel Mauss’s notion of gift-giving to the study of antiquity.

•  Features a collection of original essays that cover such wide-ranging topics as vows in the Hebrew Bible; ancient Greek wedding gifts; Hellenistic civic practices; Latin literature; Roman and Jewish burial practices; and Jewish and Christian religious gifts
•  Organizes essays around theoretical concerns rather than chronologically
•  Generates unique insights into gift-giving and reciprocity in antiquity  
•  Takes an explicitly cross-cultural approach to the study of ancient history


Michael L. Satlow is Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at Brown University.  He is the author of Creating Judaism: History, Tradition, Practice (2006); Jewish Marriage in Antiquity (2001); Rabbinic Rhetorics of Sexuality (1995) and numerous essays on Jews and Judaism in antiquity.


Notes on Contributors vii

Series Editor’s Preface x

Preface xii

1 Introduction 1
Michael L. Satlow

2 Ceremonial Gift-Giving: The Lessons of Anthropology from Mauss and Beyond 12
Marcel Hénaff

3 Alms, Blessings, Offerings: The Repertoire of Christian Gifts in Early Byzantium 25
Daniel F. Caner

4 Gift-Giving and Power Relationships in Greek Social Praxis and Public Discourse 45
Marc Domingo Gygax

5 Fictive Giftship and Fictive Friendship in Greco-Roman Society 61
Zeba Crook

6 Ovid Negotiates with His Mistress: Roman Reciprocity from Public to Private 77
Neil Coffee

7 “Can’t Buy Me Love”: The Economy of Gifts in Amorous Relations 96
David Konstan

8 Without Patronage: Fetishization, Representation, and the Circulation of Gift-Texts in the Late Roman Republic 107
Sarah Culpepper Stroup

9 Roses and Violets for the Ancestors: Gifts to the Dead and Ancient Roman Forms of Social Exchange 122
Nicola Denzey Lewis

10 Graffiti as Gift: Mortuary and Devotional Graffiti in the Late Ancient Levant 137
Karen B. Stern

11 Marriage Gifts in Ancient Greece 158
Beate Wagner-Hasel

12 Charity Wounds: Gifts to the Poor in Early Rabbinic Judaism 173
Gregg E. Gardner

13 Barter Deal or Friend-Making Gift? A Reconsideration of the Conditional Vow in the Hebrew Bible 189
Anne Katrine Gudme

14 Neither Mauss, nor Veyne: Peter Brown’s Interpretative Path to the Gift 202
Ilana F. Silber

15 Gifts for God, Gifts for Rabbis: From Sacrifice to Donation in Rabbinic Tales of Late Antiquity and Their Dialogue with Early Christian Texts 221
Galit Hasan-Rokem

Index of Subjects and Names 245

Index of Ancient Sources 253



“The Gift in Antiquity is an exciting and learned dialogue with Marcel Mauss’s The gift: Forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies, published ninety years ago. The essays engage Mauss’s model, offering critique and nuance, and sometimes push Mauss’s insights far beyond what he had imagined. While many anthologies are useful for the one or two essays they contain, this volume offers a tightly organized collection useful as a reader in classics, religion, or anthropology courses.” - John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto

The Gift in Antiquity offers a rousing demonstration of the lessons to be learned from Marcel Mauss’s early insight that gift-giving offers a privileged way to understand social relations and social obligations.  The book brims with the excitement of scholars from different disciplines building on a common theoretical tool to offer new perspectives on topics in their own fields as well as on the foundational concept of the gift itself.   It is a book that all scholars of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, as well as all scholars interested in the gift, will want to read.” - David I. Kertzer, Brown University