The Tabulae Iliacae (Iliac tablets) are a collection of 22 miniature marble reliefs from the early Roman Empire; all of them are inscribed in Greek, and most depict the panoramic vistas of Greek Epic. This book brings the tablets to life as never before, revealing the unassuming fragments as among the most sophisticated objects to survive from the ancient Mediterranean world. The Iliad in a Nutshell is not only the first monograph on this material in English (accompanied by a host of new photographs, diagrams, and reconstructions), it also examines the larger cultural and intellectual stakes--both in classical antiquity and beyond.
Where modern scholars have usually dismissed the Tabulae Iliacae as secondary "illustrations" and "tawdry gewgaws," Michael Squire advances a diametrically opposite thesis: that these epigrammatic tablets synthesize ancient ideas about visual-verbal interaction on the one-hand, and about the art and poetics of scale on the other. By reassessing the artistic and poetic aesthetics of the miniature, Squire's radical new appraisal shows how the tiny tablets encapsulate antiquity's grandest theories of originality, fiction, and replication. The book will be essential reading not just for classical philologists, art historians, and archaeologists, but for anyone interested in the intellectual history of western representation.