Neil Coffee is Associate Professor of Classics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His interests include Latin poetry, Roman history, and digital humanities.
...brings in a range of interesting and provocative evidence. ... Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --R. M. Whaples, CHOICE In deceptively simple prose, Neil Coffee has provided a sweeping perspective on a major transformation in Roman society. Gift and Gain traces a long contest between two ways of conceptualizing exchange: as giving, where the underlying motive is generosity and the framework is affective; or as sale, where the motive is profit and the framework is commercial. The two frameworks support radically different visions of how people relate to one another. In charting their history, Coffee therefore provides a significant new lens on the social history of Rome. --Clifford Ando, University of Chicago For the ancient Romans, gifting behavior and 'commercial,' gain-oriented behavior were deeply entangled and interrelated. But in contemporary scholarship, the study of gifting behavior has generally fallen to anthropologically-inflected literary scholars, while commercial behavior has engaged economic historians. Neil Coffee's book brings these divergent scholarly discourses together, to provide a more comprehensive and persuasive overview of Roman exchange behavior than has previously been available. The result is a surprising new history of the middle to late Republic and early Empire, filled with eye-opening analyses that will engage and inform students of Latin literature and Roman history alike. --Matthew Roller, Johns Hopkins University