Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization

Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization

Arnaldo Momigliano

Language: English

Pages: 188

ISBN: 0521387612

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this classic study of cultural confrontation Professor Momigliano examines the Greeks' attitude toward the contemporary civilizations of the Romans, Celts, Jews, and Persians. Analyzing cultural and intellectual interaction from the fourth through the first centuries B.C., Momigliano argues that in the Hellenistic period the Greeks, Romans, and Jews enjoyed an exclusive special relationship that guaranteed their lasting dominance of Western civilization.





















pain made somehow more tolerable to contemplate because embodied in barbarians. There were other more crude or more generic representations of the victories over the Celts. But it still remains significant that some of the pathetic figures are to be found on funerary urns. The visitor to the Museo Guarnacci of Volterra is not likely to forget the series of urns with strange scenes of marauding Celts who run away from a Fury. The Etruscans of the second century B.C. must have discovered some

(Strabo 3.4.17) and Gaul (4.4.6), and he seems to have prepared the way for the far more comprehensive enquiry of Posidonius. Whatever may be our private feelings about the modern scholarship on Posidonius, one of its most durable results is the reconstruction of Posidonius' chapters on the Celts. A few impressive verbatim quotations by Athenaeus and some references in Strabo were the starting point. The discovery that Diodorus V contained a paraphrase of the same basic text gave an altogether

that a fragment of Theophrastus' book On Piety concerning the Jews was quoted by Porphyry in his treatise On Abstinence (2.26). Theophrastus spoke of the Jews as philosophers who had by now discarded human sacrifice and performed their holocausts while fasting and talking incessantly about God. Besides, the Jews inspected the stars by night, turned their eyes towards them and invoked them in their prayers. The notion that the Jews were philosophers recurs in a book about India by Megasthenes who

264-6), shows himself as a frightened little being who had been sold into slavery in a remote land. He had not forgotten that he was a Jew, but had recognized the power of the gods of his masters and had acted in accordance with their orders. He was not ready for the role of the philosopher-priest either. Ill Behind Kohelet and Moschos the world had moved fast, and what was already at the start a semi-Utopian picture by Greek philosophers soon became absurd. More and more Greeks and Macedonians

dans les traditions de Vlran antique (1936), 126). Like his fellowSocratic Antisthenes, Xenophon did not intend to write the history of Cyrus, but to present the picture of an ideal king. To make the point clear even to the most inattentive reader, Xenophon added a chapter to his Cyropaedia in which he explained how and why the Persians of his own time were different from the contemporaries of Cyrus the Great: corruption had taken the place of austerity and virility. The authenticity, which has

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