First Book Award 2016-17 Citation
It is a pleasure as the chair of the First Book Award committee to present the two awards this year to Dr Meghan DiLuzio for her book A Place at the Altar: Priestesses in Republican Rome (Princeton, 2016) and Tom Hawkins (Ohio State) for his book Iambic Poetics in the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2014). We look, in this award, for excellent quality, wide significance within its genre, and awareness of international trends in its field. With all other factors being equal, we look for something that shifts the conversation substantially in the area covered by the book.
Committee members praised DiLuzio’s book as ‘an important contribution to the study of Roman religion…’, which ‘should lead to much reconsideration of existing work as well as new scholarship because it demolishes the widespread scholarly assumption that early Roman religion involved no priestesses except in “foreign” cults.’ Another lauded it as an ‘impressive and important book’ that ‘changes the way we think about the place of women in the religious life of Rome’, while another praised its control of ‘a vast range of often obscure evidence’ combined with its intelligent and critical analysis. The book ‘contributes significantly to our understanding not just regarding women's lives in ancient Rome but numerous other aspects of Roman society.’
Tom Hawkins’s book was commended as ‘an original and sweeping study of a genre of poetics across four centuries…’, which ‘displays a dazzlingly broad grasp of Roman literature as well as the foundational Greek materials.’ Another commented that it ‘is a thought-provoking book, whose strength lies in its breadth and scope’, while yet another noted that it is ‘clear, clever, skillful’. Another reviewer noted that ‘this will be an influential book because of the way it defines iambic poetics separately from the formal properties of the genre, and because of its vast chronological scope.’