Inventing Origins? Aetiological Thinking in Greek and Roman Antiquity


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Aetiologies seem to gratify the human desire to understand the origin of a phenomenon. However, as this book demonstrates, aetiologies do not exclusively explore origins. Rather, in inventing origin stories they authorise the present and try to shape the future. This book explores aetiology as a tool for thinking, and draws attention to the paradoxical structure of origin stories. Aetiologies reduce complex ambivalence and plurality to plainly causal and temporal relations, but at the same time, by casting an anchor into the past, they open doors to progress and innovation.
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Antje Wessels, Dr. phil. (2001), University of Heidelberg, Habilitation (2011), Free University Berlin, is Full Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Leiden University. She has published books on aesthetic theory, history of scholarship, and reception of antiquity.

Jacqueline Klooster, PhD (2009), University of Groningen, is assistant professor of Greek Literature. She has published widely on Hellenistic Poetry and other topics, including the monograph Poetry as Window and Mirror. Positioning the Poet in Hellenistic Poetry (Brill, 2011).

Contributors are Susanna de Beer, Susanne Gödde, Annette Harder, Alexander Kirichenko, Jacqueline Klooster, Hugo Koning, Inger N.I. Kuin, Andrea de March, Sean E. McGrath, Michiel Meeusen, Antje Wessels.

Introduction: Inventing Anchors? Aetiological Thinking in Greek and Roman Antiquity
Antje Wessels and Jacqueline Klooster

PART 1: Aetiological Thinking. Old & New. From Present to Past to Future

1 Anchoring Innovations through Aetiology
Annette Harder

2 The Parallels between Aetiology and Prophecy in Ancient Literature. Hindsight as Foresight Makes Sense
Jacqueline Klooster

PART 2: Aetiology and Politics

3 Veterem atque antiquam rem novam ad vos proferam. A New Drama, a Surprised Audience, and a ‘Live Aetiology’. Performing the Origin of the Amphitruo
Andrea de March

4 Callimachus Romanus. Propertius’ Love Elegy and the Aetiology of Empire
Alexander Kirichenko

5 The Origins of Rome in the Renaissance. Revival & Reinvention, Rejection & Replacement
Susanna de Beer

PART 3: Aetiology in Myth and Science. From Religion to Research

6 Resistance to Origins. Cult Foundation in the Myths of Dionysus, Apollo, and Demeter
Susanne Gödde

7 Beginning with Hermes: Promoting Hermeticism through Aetiology in Corpus Hermeticum 1
Sean E. McGrath

8 The Aetiology of Myth
Hugo Koning

9 Patroclus Was a Parasite. Lucian’s Satirical Aitia
Inger N.I. Kuin

10 Crossing Borders. Aetiological Overlap in Plutarch’s Collections of Questions
Michiel Meeusen

The book will be of interest to students, professionals, academic libraries and institutes in the field of Classics and related disciplines as well as Early Modern studies.
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