Ordering without a system: Roman knowledge order(s)

Working Papers in Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic Literature 1.16 (22/1/14)

‘Ordering without a system: Roman knowledge order(s)’                                                                                                      Greg Woolf, 22nd January 2014

This working paper is an unrevised text of a paper delivered at the conference ‘Libraries, Lives and the Organization of Knowledge in the Pre-Modern World, organized by Christopher Celenza, Thomas Hendrickson and Irene SanPietro. It draws on work recently conducted for the St Andrews-based Leverhulme Science and Empire project on ancient libraries and premodern encyclopaedism to discuss ancient habits of and attitudes to knowledge orders. Ordering of knowledge, it argues, was a constant rhetorical and intellectual concern; but no single taxonomy of academic knowledge emerged from this activity, with profound implications for the trajectory followed by ancient scholarship. Though it does not focus exclusively on Nervan, Trajanic and Hadrianic material, it touches on a number of texts and institutions of interest to the Literary Interactions project, and makes important points along the way about interactions (and indeed gaps in interaction) between libraries, literary production and consumption, and other intellectual endeavours.

Ordering Without a System

This paper intersects with a number of other Working Papers published here, in particular Library Building under Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian.