Show Less
Restricted access

The Alexandrian Tradition

Interactions between Science, Religion, and Literature


Edited By Luis Arturo Guichard, Juan Luis García Alonso and María Paz de Hoz

This book is the outcome of the conference «Imperial Alexandria: Interactions between Science, Religion and Literature», held at Salamanca University in October 2011. The conference convened a group of experts from different fields to address the interrelationship between Science, Religion and Literature in the Graeco-Roman world during the Imperial Period, and especially in Alexandria, situating it within the context of the long tradition of knowledge that had been consolidating itself in this city, above all during the Hellenistic era. The encounter’s main aim was to create a forum for interdisciplinary reflection on «the Alexandrian model» of knowledge in the Imperial Period and its background, being attended by philologists and historians specialising in different types of texts (literary, scientific and religious), whose study requires an interdisciplinary approach, with priority being given to the notion of contact and the relationship between these subjects in order to gain a better understanding of the spirit, way of thinking and moral values of a particularly important era in the development of ancient culture.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

“When I scan the circling spirals of the stars, no longer do I touch earth with my feet”: Juan Luis García Alonso



“When I scan the circling spirals of the stars, no longer do I touch earth with my feet”

In the Greek Anthology there is an epigram (AP 9. 577), attributed to Claudius Ptolemaeus, or Ptolemy, which is the source for my title.1 MacKail2 calls it Species aeternitatis, and it is more accurately rendered as follows:

οἶδ’ ὅτι θνατὸς ἐγὼ καὶἐφάμερος: ἀλλ’ ὅταν ἄστρων

μαστεύω πυκινὰς ἀμφιδρόμους ἕλικας,

οὐκέτ’ ἐπιψαύω γαίης ποσίν, ἀλλα παρ’ αὐτῷ

Ζανὶ θεοτρεφέος πίμπλαμαι ἀμβροσίης. ← 233 | 234 →

“I know that I am mortal, and ephemeral; but when I scan the multitudinous circling spirals of the stars, no longer do I touch earth with my feet, but sit with Zeus himself, and take my fill of the ambrosial food of gods.”

I have been working on different aspects of Ptolemy’s works for a good number of years. However, it was only recently that I understood all the implications a brief poem like this, even when not certain about its true authorship, may have in relation to a suitable recognition and comprehension of what ancient science was, of what it meant, of what assumptions it was built on, of the consequences this new understanding may have in order to fully grasp the interaction between Greek Science and Greek Religion, and of the way it found an expression (if indeed it did) in contemporary Greek Literature.

If that really is Ptolemy’s voice speaking, or even if it is the voice of someone deliberately impersonating him, it...

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.