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Free eBook The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought download

by James S. Romm

Free eBook The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought download ISBN: 0691069336
Author: James S. Romm
Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 1, 1992)
Language: English
Pages: 252
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Size MP3: 1727 mb
Size FLAC: 1529 mb
Rating: 4.2
Format: lrf mobi docx lit


The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives.

The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives. Here James Romm surveys this tradition, revealing that the Greeks, and to a somewhat lesser extent the Romans, saw geography not as a branch of physical science but as an important literary genre.

The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and . For the Greeks and Romans the earth's farthest perimeter was a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human.

James S. Romm, professor of classics at Bard College, undertakes a decidedly sophisticated literary . Romm, professor of classics at Bard College, undertakes a decidedly sophisticated literary turn to analyze the manner in which the ancients perceived the far reaches of the Earth. He finds that they approached geography as much as a form of narrative fiction as a description of terrains or peoples grounded in fact and analysis.

For the Greeks and Romans the earth's farthest perimeter was a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human. The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives. Here James Romm surv For the Greeks and Romans the earth's farthest perimeter was a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human. Format Paperback 247 pages. Romm - 2007 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 101 (1):107-108. Earth Ways: Framing Geographical Meanings. Gary Backhaus & John Murungi (ed. - 2004 - Lexington Books. The Relations Bwetween Geography and History Reconsidered. Leonard Guelke - 1997 - History and Theory 36 (2):191–234. Ancient Geography J. O. Thomson: History of Ancient Geography. Deepanwita Dasgupta, Robert Kirkman, Jason W. Moore, François-Xavier Nzi Iyo Nsenga, Lawrence A. Peskin, Dennis E. Skocz & Paul Steege - 2004 - Lexington Books. Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography.

geography, exploration, and fiction. Published 1992 by Princeton University Press in Princeton, . Classical literature, History and criticism, Geography in literature.

The alien qualities of these edges of the earth became the basis of a literary tradition that endured .

The alien qualities of these edges of the earth became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives. Romm successfully sorts out for us some of the most complex traditions of ancient geographic literature; and he deserves high marks for doing it in such an intelligent, original, and attractive manner.

For the Greeks and Romans the earth's farthest perimeter was a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human. The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific perspectives. Here James Romm surveys this tradition, revealing that the Greeks, and to a somewhat lesser extent the Romans, saw geography not as a branch of physical science but as an important literary genre.

User reviews
Coiriel
James S. Romm, professor of classics at Bard College, undertakes a decidedly sophisticated literary turn to analyze the manner in which the ancients perceived the far reaches of the Earth. He finds that they approached geography as much as a form of narrative fiction as a description of terrains or peoples grounded in fact and analysis. That, in itself, is a fascinating conclusion and suggests that many of the tales we are familiar with, such as Atlantis, the Hyperboreans, and the like should be taken more as creative writing than factual reporting.

Ancient geographers--although that term is a bit of mischaracterization--elieved that their own country was the center of a disk-like world. A disk-like Earth, surrounded by an Ocean with islands full of wonders and monstrosities, explained the world. As one traveled farther and farther away from Mediterranean culture, those inculcated in that culture believed, the world becomes stranger and in going to the farthest ended humans were reported to behave inhumanely.

This belief evolved over time and while such writers as Herodotus enjoyed the outrageous story and his histories are filled with the, he took care to note that such and story was related to him and sometimes discounted it in his discussion. In addition, he also criticized others for their uncritical recitation of wild stories for lands far away. Over time others did the same, and the move toward greater concern over the reporting on lands and peoples far away emerged. This was especially the case in the era of Alexander the Great and thereafter as geographical knowledge based on the ground truth provided by expeditions became more reliable; that coupled with the concerns of Alexander himself that hard data be collected to aid in his efforts at conquest. Even so, assigning barbarian (and sometimes magical) status to those at the "edges of the Earth" remained present.

This is, of course, a thoroughly documented study that raises many questions, many more questions than it answers. It is illuminating at several levels, but I found several key points that struck me as especially interesting.

The first of these is the deep philosophical belief in "Ocean" as the source of all that exists and that its boundlessness surrounds all the land and water that the ancient Greeks knew. This "primordial water," to use Jean Rudhardt's term, created a useful understanding of creation, order, universe, and humanity's place in it. "The entire nexus of associations outlined above--connecting Ocean's role as boundary of earth with its vast extent, impassibility, atavism, and monstrous disorder--is neatly embodied in a set of Greek epigrams...`It [Ocean] is greatest because of this: It is beyond all things, but beyond it is nothing'" (pp. 25-26). Floating in Ocean was the World and beyond the great unknown, perhaps an unknown that was impenetrable but certainly one that was dangerous and unknown. The power of Ocean in ancient thought gave rise to the ideas of sea monsters and falling off the Earth as seafaring was viewed as a treacherous exercise. Over the centuries as Mediterranean culture expanded outward and more and more territories came to be know the idea of Ocean did not abate but the unknown of it moved outward as well. So when the Romans incorporated much of Britain into its empire Ocean moved beyond the English Channel but it still existed in some form.

The second fascinating message was the gradual realization and spread of the idea of Earth as a sphere that was surprisingly like our understanding of it today. At some level the idea of Ocean and the idea of Earth as a sphere are inconsistent with each other but they were held in creative tension in ancient philosophy through a rather complex set of exercises. A sweeping account of what the Earth might look like from above by imagining the cosmos from a new vantage point above the Earth served ancient Greek philosophers in considering this issue. As Romm describes it, one would perceive the Earth as "a brightly colored spherical object adorned with gold, silver, and jewels." He quotes Eratosthenes in considering the whole Earth: "Five encircling zones were girt around it: two of them darker than grayish-blue enamel, another one sandy and red, as if from fire....Two others there were, standing opposite one another, between the heat and the showers of ice; both were temperate regions, growing with grain, the fruit of Eleusinian Demeter; in them dwelt men antipodal to each other" (pp. 127-28). This categorization of the planet as having zones of hot and cold and temperate climates moved beyond Ocean as an explanation of the world. Hellenistic and Roman writers took a new turn that profoundly affected Mediaeval thought about the Earth.

"The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought" is a superb investigation not only of the idea of the "edges of the Earth" but also the idea of the Earth writ large.
Billy Granson
The most fascinating aspect of reading The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought by James S. Romm is to learn that for the ancients, geography was more of a literary device than a budding science. In a way, it was more complex than that as the lines between literature and science were often blurred. It is interesting to note that the idea of the edge of the earth was most often used to create a moral lesson and what a better well to draw a taste of moral water from than the area where the least information is available. It was a blank slate of sorts for the ancient historians, geographers, philosophers and various other writers to create their own messages for their own purposes. And in that the variety lies the pleasure in this short, readable look at the times of ancient Rome and Greece.
Maveri
It's a very interesting book for geographers. We could understand very well about myths - places, people - and fantasies about other lands emerging from the Ancient writers. Read it !