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Interpretatio Graeca

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Chapter Summary

When traditionalists attack the new consensus they imply that the champions of hybridity are merely returning to the old bugbear the interpretatio Graeca. The interpretatio Graeca is a formulation devised by nineteenth-century classicists to label what they saw as the absurd and unscientific idea that Egypt was central to the formation of Greek civilization. It might seem paradoxical that men who adored every other aspect of Hellenic culture and creativity should despise the Greek historiography on this crucial issue. Susan Stephens firmly rejects the charge that she champions the interpretatio Graeca. In this way she stays within the bounds of her discipline, but flies in the teeth of the Ptolemaic Zeitgeist. While the poets touched lightly on the image of Greece's Egyptian origins, the three Greek historians dominant on such issues in the last three centuries BCE, Herodotos, Hekataios of Abdera and Diodoros Sikeliotes, all saw Egyptian settlements in Greece.

Keywords: Egypt; Greek civilization; Hekataios; Herodotos; interpretatio Graeca; Susan Stephens

10.1163/ej.9789004170896.i-488.22
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