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Alexander Polyhistor's Peri Ioudaion And Literary Culture In Republican Rome

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Chapter Summary

The scattered remains of the literary corpus of Lucius Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor (hereafter, Polyhistor) remind us of the risks associated with the study of documents from antiquity. For the most part, Polyhistor was satisfied to let his authorities have the final word, even when they contradicted one another. There is no indication that Polyhistor ever spoke to an oral informant, or gathered information from unnamed authorities or oral traditions. At a time when public libraries and archives in Rome were still rare, his encyclopedic collections helped to enrich literary culture in Rome. Because of the conditions under which they arrived in Rome and the services they were asked to perform, they were for the most part more dependent on Roman patronage than Greek rhetors and philosophers. Were it not for Eusebius' salvage operation, Polyhistor's lengthy transcriptions of passages from Berossus' Babyloniaca would then be lost.

Keywords: Berossus' Babyloniaca; Eusebius; Greek rhetors; literary culture; parochialism; Polyhistor; Republican Rome; Rome



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