Interactions between Science, Religion, and Literature
Edited By Luis Arturo Guichard, Juan Luis García Alonso and María Paz de Hoz
Between literature and science, poetry and prose, Alexandria and Rome: the case of Dionysius’ Periegesis of the Known World: Jane Lucy Lightfoot
JANE LUCY LIGHTFOOT
Between literature and science, poetry and prose, Alexandria and Rome: the case of Dionysius’ Periegesis of the Known World
It is a credit to the vision of the organisers of this project that they encouraged a generous interpretation of “Alexandria” as a cultural force. The subject of my paper, however, is Alexandrian in the strict sense.
This author is Dionysius, who wrote a geographical hexameter poem at some point in the reign of Hadrian. It is just under 1200 lines long, and it describes the known world, with its three continents and the surrounding ocean. However, the identity of the author and his provenance was forgotten already in antiquity. Because of its pedagogical content, the text was popular – it was read in a monastic context in south Italy, and was on the school curriculum in Byzantium1 – and naturally generated various theories about its origin. The scholia and Eustathius, author of an important commentary in the twelfth century, guessed that its author was a Libyan, because in his description of the three continents he put Libya first, a relatively unusual ordering.2 Some nineteenth-century speculation got close to what we now know to be the truth: identifying him with the Dionysius of Alexandria mentioned in Suda δ 1173, Karl Ottfried Müller, editor of the Periegesis in the second volume of his Geographi Graeci Minores, supposed that he was an Alexandrian, and was wrong by a mere generation about the poem’s date, which he...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.