Joseph Roisman (Yossi)

Professor of Classics (Retired)

Box 4163

Phone: 207-859-4163
Fax: 207-859-4705
Mailing Address:
4163 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8841
Roisman, Joseph


B.A. and M.A. Tel Aviv University
Ph.D. University of Washington

Areas of Expertise

  • Greek and Roman history and historiography
  • Greek Rhetoric

Professional Information

Yossi is our resident Ancient Historian. He teaches a wide range of courses covering Greek and Roman history and culture and ancient military history. He has chaired the Department several times, and together with his colleagues contributed to its impressive growth. He has published extensively in Greek history, historiography, and literature, with an emphasis on military history, the Age of Alexander and his successors, and Greek rhetoric. He authored and edited the following books: The General Demosthenes and his Art of Military Surprise (Stuttgart 1993); Alexander the Great: Ancient and Modern Perspectives (ed., Lexington, Mass. 1995); Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great (ed., Leiden 2003); The Rhetoric of Manhood: Masculinity according to the Attic Orators (Berkeley 2005); The Rhetoric of Conspiracy in Ancient Athens (Berkeley 2006); A Companion to Ancient Macedonia (coed. with I. Worthington, Malden, MA 2010); Greek History: The Ancient Evidence from Homer to Alexander the Great,(with translations by John Yardley; Malden, MA 2011); 'Alexander's Veterans and the Early Wars of the Successors' (Austin, TX, 2012). ‘Lives Of The Attic Orators: Texts From Pseudo-Plutarch, Photius, and The Suda’ (coauthored with Ian Worthington, trans. Robin Waterfield; Oxford, 2015); 'The Classical Art of Command: Eight Greek Generals Who Shaped the History of Warfare' (Oxford, 2017). Yossi is now working on a book manuscript on a historical commentary on the Athenian orator Lycurgus.


The Classical Art of Command (Oxford University 2017). This book uniquely looks at the many facets of Greek art of command in the Classical Age through the individual careers of some of the best-known Greek commanders. They include the Spartan king Leonidas, the Athenian leaders Themistocles, Pericles, and the general Demosthenes, the Spartan Lysander, Dionysius I of Syracuse, and Epaminondas and Pelopidas of Thebes. The book describes the different nature of these leaders' generalship and the mark they left on Greek history and warfare. It describes the military challenges that each of these generals encountered and compares and contrasts their careers so to account for their successes and failures. The book draws attention to the important role that personality played in their leadership, which justifies investigating the Greek art of command through the individual careers of generals. In addition, the book looks at how far generalship changed during the Classical Age, and how adaptable it was to different military circumstances. Other questions involve the extent to which a general was a mere leader of the charge, a battle director or a strategist, and what made both ancient and modern authorities regard the aforementioned generals outstanding shapers of Greek military history.

Lives Of The Attic Orators: Texts From Pseudo-Plutarch, Photius, and The Suda Introduction and Commentary by Joseph Roisman & Ian Worthington. Translation by Robin Waterfield (Oxford University Press 2015). Assessing these works as important historical sources for the individual lives and careers of the orators whose works have survived, this systematic study explores how these literary biographies were constructed, the information they provide, and their veracity. In-depth commentary notes offer contextual information, explain references, and examine individual rhetorical phrases, and a glossary of technical terms provides a quick reference guide to the more obscure oratorial and political terms. The volume also includes a detailed introduction which discusses the evolution of Greek oratory and rhetoric; the so-called Canon of the Ten Orators; the authorship, dates and sources of the biographies provided by Pseudo-Plutarch, Photius, and the Suda; and a brief consideration of orators whose speeches were either falsely attributed to Demosthenes or may be referenced in ancient lives.

Alexander's Veterans and the Early Wars of the Successors (University of Texas Press 2012). This pathfinding book offers the first in-depth investigation of the Macedonian veterans' experience during a crucial turning point in Greek History (323-316 BCE). Joseph Roisman discusses the military, social, and political circumstances that shaped the history of Alexander's veterans, giving special attention to issues such as the soldier's conduct on and off the battlefield, the army assemblies, the volatile relationship between the troops and their generals, and other related themes, all from the perspective of the rank and file. Roisman also reexamines the biases of the ancient sources and how they affected ancient and modern depictions of Alexander's veterans, as well as Alexander's conflicts with his army, the veterans' motives and goals, and their political contributions to Hellenistic history. He pays special attention to the Silver Shields, a group of Macedonian veterans famous for their invincibility and martial prowess, and assesses whether or not they deserved their formidable reputation.

Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander, with J.C. Yardley translations, (Wiley Blackwell 2011). Incorporating fresh new translations of original Greek and Roman texts and drawing on a range of sources, including artistic evidence, this sourcebook provides an inclusive and integrated view of Greek history, from Homer to Alexander the Great. Linking political, military, and social history of the Greeks to their intellectual accomplishments, the book offers a full and integrated perspective on the period. It puts the reader in touch with the raw material of ancient history and analyzes the importance of this evidence through extensive introductions and explanatory notes. An accompanying website offers additional evidence as well as links to useful online resources.

A Companion to Ancient Macedonia (Editor with Ian Worthington, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

A Companion to Ancient Macedonia
- the first of its kind - examines the political, military, social, economic, and cultural history of ancient Macedonia from the Archaic period to the end of Roman domination and beyond. Material culture, such as art, architecture, and archaeology, is also explored.

Written in a lively and accessible style, the companion includes specially commissioned chapters by leading and up-and-coming scholars, and features suggestions for further reading. This comprehensive, up-to-date collection of essays provides a rich resource for students and scholars of ancient Macedonia.

The Rhetoric of Conspiracy in Ancient Athens (University of California Press, 2006)

The Attic orators, whose works are an invaluable source on the social and political history of Classical Athens, often filled their speeches with charges of conspiracy involving almost every facet of Athenian life. There are allegations of plots against men's lives, property, careers, and reputations as well as charges of conspiracy against the public interest, the government, the management of foreign affairs, and more. Until now, however, this obsession with conspiracy has received little scholarly attention. In order to develop the first full picture of this important feature of Athenian discourse, Joseph Roisman examines the range and nature of the conspiracy charges. He asks why they were so popular, and considers their rhetorical, cultural, and psychological significance. He also investigates the historical likelihood of the scenarios advanced for these plots, and asks what their prevalence suggests about the Athenians and their worldview. He concludes by comparing ancient and modern conspiracy theories. In addition to shedding new light on Athenian history and culture, his study provides an invaluable perspective on the use of conspiracy as a rhetorical ploy.

The Rhetoric of Manhood: Masculinity in the Attic Orators (University of California Press, 2005)

The concept of manhood was immensely important in ancient Athens, shaping its political, social, legal, and value systems. This book, a groundbreaking study of manhood in fourth century Athens, is the first to provide a comprehensive examination of notions about masculinity found in the Attic orators, who represent one of the single most imortant sources for understanding the social history of this period. Whereas previous studies have assumed a uniform ideology about manhood, Roisman finds that Athenians had quite varied opions about what consistitued manly value and conduct. Roisman situates the evidence for ideas about manhood found in the Attic orators in historical, ideological, and theorecticl contexts to explore various manifestations of Athenian masculinity as well as the rhetoric that both articulated and questioned it.

Roisman illusminates masculine notions, activities, and discourse by focusing on topics such as the nexus between manhood and age; Athenian men in their roles as family members, friends, and lovers; the concept of masculine shame; relations between social and economic status and manhood; manhood in the military and politics; the manly virture of self-control; and what men feared. Throughout, he considers both the variety of forms of Athenian manhood as well as the challenges men faced in achieving masculine archetypes.

Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great (Editor, Brill, 2003)

This book acquaints us with important issues surrounding Alexander the Great's conquest and their current interpretations, and opens up new directions of investigation as it confronts them. It covers a broad range of topics: the ancients' representatins of the king in literature and art; Alexander's relations with Greeks, Macedonians, and the peoples of Asia; the military, political, sociological, and cultural aspects of his campaigns; the exploitation of his story by ancient philosophers to argue a moral point and by modern communities to affirm or contest ethnic and national identities. This volume is of interst to scholars and nonspecialists alike.

Alexander the Great: Ancient and Modern Perspectives (Editor, Heath, 1995)
Using biographical and historical approaches, this book comprises documents and essays pertinent to the main problems surrounding Alexander's career.

The book contains eight parts that discuss the sources on Alexander, the the Macedonian state and the death of his father Philip II, Alexander's relationship with the Greeks, his aims, Alexander's army and the Battle of Issus, his relationship with his Macedonian generals, Alexander's divinity, and his policy of integrating victors and vanquished.

The General Demonsthenes and his Use of Military Surprise (Franz Steiner, 1993)
The Athenian general Demosthenes, who was active in the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta has been described as "the greatest of Athenians soldier generals of the war." This study asks whether Demonsthenes deserved this and similar accolades that have characterized much of the modern studies of him. It also examined his innovative surprise tactics but wonders how effective they really were.


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