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This collection of essays explores processes of innovation in Greco-Roman technology and science. It uses the concept of ‘anchoring’ to investigate the microhistories of technological and scientific practices and ideas. The volume combines broad, theoretical essays with more targeted case studies of individual inventions and innovations. In doing so, it moves beyond the emphasis on achievement that has traditionally characterized modern scholarship on ancient technology and science. Instead, the chapters of this volume analyse the manifold ways in which new technologies and ideas were anchored in what was already known and familiar, and highlight how, once familiar, technologies and ideas could themselves become anchoring points for inventions and innovations.
A Study in Hymnody, Hero Cult, and Homeric Reception
Apollonius represents a crucial link in the epic tradition spanning Homer and Vergil, but arrestingly, his epic Argonautica rather begins and ends in the style of a Homeric Hymn. This book contends that Apollonius thus frames his poem as an innovative synthesis of both branches of his Homeric inheritance: an “epic hymn” that simultaneously commemorates its protagonists’ glorious deeds and venerates them in their religious capacity as divinized cult heroes. This study—the first-ever in-depth investigation of Apollonius’ profound engagement with the hymnic Homer—promises to reorient scholarly understandings of the Argonautica’s novel narrative strategies, its inclusive conception of heroism, and indeed, its very generic affiliations.
In the treatise On the Change of Names (part of his magnum opus, the Allegorical Commentary), Philo of Alexandria brings his figurative exegesis of the Abraham cycle to its fruition. Taking a cue from Platonist interpreters of Homer’s Odyssey, Philo reads Moses’s story of Abraham as an account of the soul’s progress and perfection. Responding to contemporary critics, who mocked Genesis 17 as uninspired, Philo finds instead a hidden philosophical reflection on the ineffability of the transcendent God, the transformation of souls which recognize their mortal nothingness, the possibility of human faith enabled by peerless faithfulness of God, and the fruit of moral perfection: joy divine, prefigured in the birth of Isaac.