Scientists And Professionals In The Ancient World

School of Classics, University of St Andrews
7-9 September 2009

Conference Description

Galen (c. 129-c. 216), Epitome Galeni Pergameni operum (Strasbourg 1604), courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library
Galen (c. 129-c. 216), Epitome Galeni Pergameni operum (Strasbourg 1604),
courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library

The technical and scientific writing of Graeco-Roman antiquity has been the focus of systematic scholarly study in recent decades. Attention has been mainly directed towards the textual means through which ancient technical and scientific knowledge was organised and codified. Relatively little scholarly effort has been put into examining the role of authorial voice in the making of such bodies of knowledge, despite the fact that authorial perspective is very important in modern history of science and anthropology’s evaluation of how scientific truth is constructed. Even less, until recently, has there been an effort to connect ancient scientific writing with broader strategies of cultivating a distinctly professional, or ‘specialist’ identity in antiquity, such as are manifested through biography, epigraphy, or art. There has been some important recent work in all of these areas, but this conference aims to break new ground through a comparative approach which brings together scholars working on many different areas of ancient professional and intellectual life, investigating technical and scientific texts in a wide range of different fields, and integrating that with attention to other kinds of evidence for professional activity in the ancient world. We are particularly interested in exploring the extent to which certain key topoi of professional self-presentation may be traced across genres (including poetry, philosophy or sophistic performance) or representational media (such as inscriptions, funerary art, or sculpture).

The conference is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, as part of a wider project on ‘Science and Empire in the Roman World'. It is the third in a series of conferences, following earlier events on ‘Encyclopedism before the Renaissance’ (June 2007) and on ‘Ancient Libraries’ (September 2008).

The conference will cover the following broad themes:

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