The Allure of the Ancient

Receptions of the Ancient Middle East, ca. 1600–1800


The Allure of the Ancient investigates how the ancient Middle East was imagined and appropriated for artistic, scholarly, and political purposes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Bringing together scholars of the ancient and early modern worlds, the volume approaches reception history from an interdisciplinary perspective, asking how early modern artists and scholars interpreted ancient Middle Eastern civilizations—such as Egypt, Babylonia, and Persia—and how their interpretations were shaped by early modern contexts and concerns.
The volume’s chapters cross disciplinary boundaries in their explorations of art, philosophy, science, and literature, as well as geographical boundaries, spanning from Europe to the Caribbean to Latin America.

Contributors are: Elisa Boeri, Mark Darlow, Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby, Florian Ebeling, Margaret Geoga, Diane Greco Josefowicz, Andrea L. Middleton, Julia Prest, Felipe Rojas Silva, Maryam Sanjabi, Michael Seymour, John Steele, and Daniel Stolzenberg.

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Margaret Geoga, Ph.D. (2020, Brown University), is an Egyptologist specializing in ancient Egyptian literature and the reception history of ancient Egypt. She has published on the transmission and reception of Egyptian poetry, as well as ancient Egyptian religion.

John Steele, Ph.D. (1998, Durham University), is Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at Brown University. He has published extensively on the history of astronomy, with a particular focus on Babylonian astronomy and its later reception.
Editors’ Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations
Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors

1 Introduction
Margaret Geoga and John Steele

2 Images of Babylon in Early Modern Europe
Michael Seymour

3 Between Babylon and Rome: The Panorama of Constantinople (1662)
Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby

4 Collapsing Identities of Ptolemaic Queens in Early Modern Rome
Andrea L. Middleton

5 Reading the East: From the Enlightenment to the Utopic Projects of the Revolutionary Architects
Elisa Boeri

6 Freemasons and Platonism: The Allure of Egypt between Big Ideas and Small Details
Florian Ebeling

7 Zoroaster’s French Moment
Maryam Sanjabi

8 Ancient and Modern: Citational Practices and the Status of Ancient Egypt in Jean Terrasson’s Séthos
Margaret Geoga

9 Representing Egypt in French Enlightenment Musical Theatre: From Gherardi to the Opéra national
Mark Darlow

10 From Tragic Hero to Creole Businesswoman: Voltaire’s Semiramis and Her Parodies in 18th-Century France and Saint-Domingue
Julia Prest

11 Babylonians in Sixteenth-Century Mexico: Comparative Antiquarianism in the Work of Sahagún
Felipe Rojas Silva

12 Egypt and Babylon in Eighteenth-Century European Histories of Astronomy
John Steele

13 What Was Oriental Studies in Early Modern Europe? “Oriental Languages” and the Making of a Discipline
Daniel Stolzenberg

14 On Religious Systems: An Early Essay by Jean-François Champollion
Diane Greco Josefowicz

Index Nominum
All interested in early modern intellectual history, science, art, literature, theatre, opera, philosophy, and politics, as well as ancient Egypt, the ancient Middle/Near East, and reception studies. Keywords: Reception studies, Egypt, Ancient Near East, history, science, Babylon, theater, opera, art, literature, intellectual history, early modern, Europe, Latin America, Caribbean.
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