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Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance

Jason König, Greg Woolf, Myrto Hatzimichali, Mary Beagon, Teresa Morgan, Katerina Oikonomopoulou, Daniel Harris-McCoy, Jill Harries, Marco Formisano, Paul Magdalino, András Németh, Erika Gielen, Elizabeth Keen, Andrew Merrills, Ian Johnson, Elias Muhanna, Maaike van Berkel, Ann Blair, D. C. Andersson, Paul Dover, Neil Rhodes, Claire Preston, William West, Harriet Zurndorfer
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  • Date Published: October 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107038233


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About the Authors
  • There is a rich body of encyclopaedic writing which survives from the two millennia before the Enlightenment. This book sheds new light on that material. It traces the development of traditions of knowledge ordering which stretched back to Pliny and Varro and others in the classical world. It works with a broad concept of encyclopaedism, resisting the idea that there was any clear pre-modern genre of the 'encyclopaedia', and showing instead how the rhetoric and techniques of comprehensive compilation left their mark on a surprising range of texts. In the process it draws attention to both remarkable similarities and striking differences between conventions of encyclopaedic compilation in different periods, with a focus primarily on European/Mediterranean culture. The book covers classical, medieval (including Byzantine and Arabic) and Renaissance culture in turn, and combines chapters which survey whole periods with others focused closely on individual texts as case studies.

    • Covers a wide range of encyclopaedic writing over more than two millennia, with introductory survey chapters on key periods and cultures
    • Includes numerous in-depth case studies which break new ground on key texts
    • Works with a broad concept of pre-modern encyclopaedic writing as a spectrum of texts which draw to different degrees on a set of shared motifs and structures, rather than a clearly defined genre
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this volume can be used in two different ways: each article can be read separately (I think it will be its main use), but the whole reading is stimulating. The interest of this book is to remind us that the theme of encyclopaedism, apparently limited to a technical genre, is not of small importance: it enables us to think about intertextuality, visions of the world or relations between power and knowledge.' Jacques Elfassi, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107038233
    • length: 615 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 180 x 31 mm
    • weight: 1.38kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Jason König and Greg Woolf
    Part I. Classical Encyclopaedism:
    2. Encyclopaedism in the Roman Empire Jason König and Greg Woolf
    3. Encyclopaedism in the Alexandrian Library Myrto Hatzimichali
    4. Labores pro bono publico: the burdensome mission of Pliny's Natural History Mary Beagon
    5. Encyclopaedias of virtue? Collections of sayings and stories about wise men in Greek Teresa Morgan
    6. Plutarch's corpus of Quaestiones in the tradition of imperial Greek encyclopaedism Katerina Oikonomopoulou
    7. Artemidorus' Oneirocritica as fragmentary encyclopaedia Daniel Harris-McCoy
    8. Encyclopaedias and autocracy: Justinian's Encyclopaedia of Roman law Jill Harries
    9. Late Latin encyclopaedism: towards a new paradigm of practical knowledge Marco Formisano
    Part II. Medieval Encyclopaedism:
    10. Byzantine encyclopaedism of the ninth and tenth centuries Paul Magdalino
    11. The imperial systematisation of the past in Constantinople: Constantine VII and his Historical Excerpts András Németh
    12. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam: Joseph Rhakendytès' synopsis of Byzantine learning Erika Gielen
    13. Shifting horizons: the medieval compilation of knowledge as mirror of a changing world Elizabeth Keen
    14. Isidore's Etymologies: on words and things Andrew Merrills
    15. Loose Giblets: encyclopaedic sensibilities of ordinatio and compilatio in later medieval English literary culture and the sad case of Reginald Pecock Ian Johnson
    16. Why was the fourteenth century a century of Arabic encyclopaedism? Elias Muhanna
    17. Opening up a world of knowledge: Mamluk encyclopaedias and their readers Maaike van Berkel
    Part III. Renaissance Encyclopaedism:
    18. Revisiting Renaissance encyclopaedism Ann Blair
    19. Philosophy and the Renaissance encyclopaedia: some observations D. C. Andersson
    20. Reading 'Pliny's Ape' in the Renaissance: the Polyhistor of Caius Julius Solinus in the first century of print Paul Dover
    21. Shakespeare's encyclopaedias Neil Rhodes
    22. Big Dig: Dugdale's drainage and the dregs of England History of Embanking and Drayning Claire Preston
    23. Irony and encyclopedic writing before (and after) the Enlightenment William West
    Part IV. Chinese Encyclopaedism: A Postscript:
    24. The passion to collect, select, and protect: fifteen hundred years of the Chinese encyclopaedia Harriet Zurndorfer.

  • Editors

    Jason König, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Jason König is Senior Lecturer in Greek at the University of St Andrews, working broadly on the Greek literature and culture of the Roman Empire. He is author of Athletics and Literature in the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Saints and Symposiasts: The Literature of Food and the Symposium in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and he is editor, jointly with Tim Whitmarsh, of Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

    Greg Woolf, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Greg Woolf is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews. He currently holds a Major Leverhulme Research Fellowship and is editor of the Journal of Roman Studies. His books include Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul (1998); Et Tu Brute: The Murder of Julius Caesar and Political Assassination (2006); Tales of the Barbarians: Ethnography and Empire in the Roman West (2011); and Rome: An Empire's Story (2012). He has also edited volumes on literacy, on the city of Rome and on Roman religion and has published widely on ancient history and Roman archaeology.


    Jason König, Greg Woolf, Myrto Hatzimichali, Mary Beagon, Teresa Morgan, Katerina Oikonomopoulou, Daniel Harris-McCoy, Jill Harries, Marco Formisano, Paul Magdalino, András Németh, Erika Gielen, Elizabeth Keen, Andrew Merrills, Ian Johnson, Elias Muhanna, Maaike van Berkel, Ann Blair, D. C. Andersson, Paul Dover, Neil Rhodes, Claire Preston, William West, Harriet Zurndorfer

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