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The Romans commanded the largest and most complex empire the
world had ever seen, or would see until modern times. The challenges,
however, were not just political, economic and military: Rome was also
the hub of a vast information network, drawing in worldwide exper-
tise and refashioning it for its own purposes. This groundbreaking
collection of essays considers the dialogue between technical liter-
ature and imperial society, drawing on, developing and critiquing a
range of modern cultural theories (including those of Michel Foucault
and Edward Said). How was knowledge shaped into textual forms,
and how did those forms encode relationships between emperor and
subjects, theory and practice, Roman and Greek, centre and periph-
ery? Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire will be required read-
ing for those concerned with the intellectual and cultural history of
the Roman Empire, and its lasting legacy in the medieval world and

jason k onig is Senior Lecturer in Greek and Classical Studies at
the University of St Andrews. He is author of Athletics and Literature
in the Roman Empire (2005), and of a wide range of articles on the
Greek literature and culture of the Roman world.

ti m wh i tmar s h is E. P. Warren Praelector in Classics at Corpus
Christi College and Lecturer in Greek Language and Literature at the
University of Oxford. His publications include Greek Literature and
the Roman Empire (2001), Ancient Greek Literature (2004) and The
Second Sophistic (2005).

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page vii
Notes on contributors
List of abbreviations

part i: in trodu c tion
1 Ordering knowledge 3
Jason K¨nig and Tim Whitmarsh

pa rt ii: k n owled ge a nd t e x tua l order
2 Fragmentation and coherence in Plutarch™s
Sympotic Questions 43
Jason K¨nig
3 Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 69
John Wilkins
4 Guides to the wor(l)d 88
Andrew M. Riggsby
5 Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 108
Victoria Rimell
6 Diogenes La¨rtius, biographer of philosophy
e 133
James Warren
7 The creation of Isidore™s Etymologies or Origins 150
John Henderson

vi Contents
part iii: k nowled ge a nd s oci a l order
8 Knowledge and power in Frontinus™ On aqueducts 177
Alice K¨nig
9 Measures for an emperor: Volusius Maecianus™ monetary
pamphlet for Marcus Aurelius 206
Sera¬na Cuomo
10 Probing the entrails of the universe: astrology as bodily
knowledge in Manilius™ Astronomica 229
Thomas Habinek
11 Galen™s imperial order of knowledge 241
Rebecca Flemming

Bibliography 278
Index 300

We are grateful to the Master and Fellow of St John™s College, Cambridge,
for funding of the December 2001 conference on which this volume is
based; and to all who participated in that event. We would also like to
thank Michael Sharp and Sarah Parker at Cambridge University Press, and
the anonymous readers for the volume; and also colleagues at Cambridge,
Exeter and St Andrews, many of them working on related projects, for ideas
and support (within the Exeter Centre for Hellenistic and Romano-Greek
Studies and the St Andrews Logos Centre for study of ancient systems of
knowledge). We are grateful especially to Simon Goldhill for comments on
Chapter 1.


S e ra fin a Cuomo is Reader at Imperial College London, and a histo-
rian of ancient Greek and Roman science and technology. She works in
particular on the political, social and economic signi¬cance of ancient
forms of knowledge, and has written on science in late antiquity, on
ancient mathematics, on military technology and on Roman land-
surveying. Her third book, Technology and Culture in Greek and Roman
Antiquity, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.
Re b ecc a Flemming is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University
of Cambridge. She is the author of Medicine and the Making of Roman
Women: Gender, Nature, and Authority from Celsus to Galen (Oxford
University Press, 2000), and a range of essays and articles on women
and medicine in the ancient world, both jointly and separately. She is
currently writing a book on medicine and empire in the Roman world.
Th oma s Ha binek is Professor of Classics at the University of Southern
California. He has published extensively on Latin literature and Roman
cultural history. His most recent book is The World of Roman Song:
From Ritualized Speech to Social Order (Johns Hopkins University Press,
2005). He is currently at work on an interdisciplinary project linking
humanistic and natural scienti¬c approaches to the human capacity for
imitation and its role in cultural change.
Joh n He n ders on is Professor of Classics at the University of Cam-
bridge and a Fellow of King™s College. His books include monographs
on Plautus, Phaedrus, Seneca, Statius, Pliny and Juvenal, besides gen-
eral studies of epic, comedy, satire, history, art, culture and the history
of classics, and The Medieval World of Isidore of Seville: Creating Truth
through Words (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
Alic e K o nig is Lecturer in Latin at the University of St Andrews. Her
recent research has focused on Latin ˜technical™ literature, particularly
Notes on contributors ix
the works of Frontinus and Vitruvius. She is currently revising her PhD
thesis, on Frontinus™ three surviving treatises, for publication.
Jason K o nig is Senior Lecturer in Greek and Classical Studies at the
University of St Andrews. He is author of Athletics and Literature in
the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2006), and of a wide
range of articles on the Greek literature and culture of the Roman world.
He is currently engaged, with Greg Woolf, in a project funded by the
Leverhulme Trust on Science and Empire in the Ancient World.
A ndrew M . Riggs by is Associate Professor of Classics and of Art and
Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of
Crime and Community in Ciceronian Rome (University of Texas Press,
1999) and Caesar in Gaul and Rome: War in Words (University of
Texas Press, 2006). He works on the cultural history of Republican
Roman political institutions and on the cognitive history of the Roman
Victoria Rimell teaches Latin literature at the University of Rome,
La Sapienza. She is author of Petronius and the Anatomy of Fiction (Cam-
bridge University Press, 2002) and Ovid™s Lovers: Desire, Difference and
the Poetic Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2006), and editor
of Orality and Representation in the Ancient Novel (Ancient Narrative
Supplement, 2007).
Jam es Wa rren is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cam-
bridge and Fellow and Director of Studies in Philosophy at Corpus
Christi College. He is the author of Epicurus and Democritean Ethics: an
Archaeology of Ataraxia (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Facing
Death: Epicurus and his Critics (Oxford University Press, 2004).
Tim Whitmar sh is E. P. Warren Praelector in Classics at Corpus Christi
College and Lecturer in Greek Language and Literature at the University
of Oxford. A specialist in the Greek literature and culture of the imperial
period, he is the author of Greek Literature and the Roman Empire (Oxford
University Press, 2001), Ancient Greek Literature (Polity Press, 2004), The
Second Sophistic (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and Reading the Self
in the Ancient Greek Novel (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
He is currently working on interactions between Greek and Semitic
John Wilkin s is Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Exeter.
His books include Euripides: Heraclidae (Oxford University Press, 1993),
x Notes on contributors
The Boastful Chef: The Discourse of Food in Ancient Greek Comedy (Oxford
University Press, 2000) and (with Shaun Hill) Food in the Ancient World
(Blackwell, 2006). He edited (with David Braund) Athenaeus and his
World (University of Exeter Press, 2000) and is currently preparing edi-
tions of Galen, De alimentorum facultatibus for the Bud´ series and the
Corpus Medicorum Graecorum.

Abbreviations for Greek and Latin authors, and for scholarly resources,
follow those used in S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (eds.) (1996) The
Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn) Oxford; where author abbreviations
are not found in OCD, usual conventions are followed. Exception is made
in the case of Galen™s works, for which a full list of abbreviations used in
this volume is given below. Journal abbreviations follow Ann´e Philologique,
with occasional anglicisations. All other abbreviations are listed below.

CIL = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (1863“)
CISem. = Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (1881“)
CMG = Corpus Medicorum Graecorum (1908“)
CML = Corpus Medicorum Latinorum (1915“)
FGrH = Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (1923“) eds. F. Jacoby
et al.
IG = Inscriptiones Graecae, 2nd edn (1924“)
ILS = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, ed. H. Dessau (1892“1916)
K = Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia, 20 vols., ed. C. G. K¨ hn (1821“33)
LSJ = A Greek“English Lexicon, 9th edn, H. G. Liddell, R. Scott et al.
Migne PL = Patrologiae Cursus, Series Latina, ed. J.-P. Migne (1863“)
OCD = Oxford Classical Dictionary
OCT = Oxford Classical Text
OLD = Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P. G. W. Glare, corrected edn (1996)
PVindob. = Papyrus Vindobonensis
PHerc. = Papyrus Herculanensis
POxy. = Oxyrhynchus Papyrus
SM = Claudii Galeni Pergameni Scripta Minora, 3 vols. (1884“93) eds.
J. Marquardt, I. M¨ ller and G. Helmreich, Leipzig.

xii Abbreviations
g a le n
Abbreviations and editions used for the works of Galen and other medical
AA De anatomicis administrationibus (˜On anatomical
procedures™), books 1“8 from ii K, books 9“15
(extant only in Arabic) from Simon (1906)
Alim. fac. De alimentorum facultatibus (˜On the properties of
foodstuffs™), CMG 5.4.2
Ant. De antidotis (˜On antidotes™), xiv K
Ars med. Ars medica (˜The medical art™), Boudon (2000)
Comp. med. gen. De compositione medicamentorum secundum genera
(˜On the compounding of drugs according to
kinds™), xiii K
Comp. med. loc. De compositione medicamentorum secundum locos
(˜On the compounding of drugs according to
places™), xii“xiii K
Cris. De crisibus (˜On crises™), Alexanderson (1967)
Foet. form. De foetuum formatione (˜On the formation of the
foetus™), CMG 5.3.3
Food see under Alim. fac.
Lib. prop. De libris propriis (˜On my own books™), SM ii
Loc. aff. De locis affectis (˜On the affected parts™), viii K
MM De methodo medendi (˜On the therapeutic
method™), x K
Nerv. diss. De nervorum dissectione (˜On the dissection of the
nerves™), ii K
Ord. lib. prop. De ordine librorum propriorum (˜On the order of my
own books™), SM ii
Part. art. med. De partibus artis medicativae (˜On the parts of the
art of medicine™), CMG supp. or. ii
PHP De placitis Hippocratis et Platonis (˜On the doctrines
of Hippocrates and Plato™), CMG v 4.1.1“3
Praen. De praenotione ad Epigenem (˜On prognosis™), CMG
Prop. plac. De propriis placitis (˜On my own opinions™), CMG
Simples see under SMT
Abbreviations xiii
SMT De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac
facultatibus (˜On the mixtures and properties of
simple drugs™), xi“xii K
Ther. De theriaca ad Pisonem (˜On theriac to Piso™), xiv K
Thras. Thrasybulus, SM iii
UP De usu partium (˜On the usefulness of parts™),
Helmreich (1907“9)

ed it i ons
Alexanderson, B. (1967) Peri Kriseˆn Galenos. Stockholm
Boudon, V. (2000) Galien II: Exhortation a la M´decine. Art M´dical.
e e
Daremberg, C. and Ruelle, E. (1879) Oeuvres de Rufus d™Eph`se. Paris
Garofalo, I. (ed.) (1997) Anonymi Medici de Morbis acutis et chroniis.
Helmreich, G. (1907“9) Galeni De Usu Partium libri XVII, 2 vols. Leipzig
Muhaqqiq, M. (ed.) (1993) Kitab al-Shukuk ˜ala Jalinus li-Muhammad
ibn Zakariyya al-Razi. Tehran
Sconocchia, S. (1983) Scribonii Largi Compositiones. Leipzig
Simon, M, (1906) Sieben B¨ cher Anatomie des Galen, 2 vols. Leipzig
Wellmann, M. (1906“14) Pedanius Dioscorides. De Materia Medica,
3 vols. Berlin
pa rt i
chapter 1

Ordering knowledge
Jason K¨nig and Tim Whitmarsh

imperia l know le dg e
This volume seeks to explore the ways in which particular conceptions of
knowledge and particular ways of textualising knowledge were entwined
with social and political practices and ideals within the Roman Imperial
period. In the process, we explore the possibility that the Roman Empire
brought with it distinctive forms of knowledge, and, in particular, distinc-
tive ways of ordering knowledge in textual form.
The chapters following this one contain a series of case studies, exam-
ining the politics and poetics of knowledge-ordering within a wide range
of texts, testing out each of them carefully for signs of their engagement
with other works of similar type, and with the world around them. Our
principal interest is in texts that follow a broadly ˜compilatory™ aesthetic,
accumulating information in often enormous bulk, in ways that may look
unwieldy or purely functional to modern eyes, but which in the ancient
world clearly had a much higher prestige than modern criticism has allowed
them. The prevalence of this mode of composition in the Roman world is
astonishing, as will become clear in the course of this discussion. It is some-
times hard to avoid the impression that accumulation of knowledge is the
driving force for all of Imperial prose literature. That obsession also makes
its mark on verse, for example within the scrolls of didactic epic or in the
anthologisation of epigrams. In this volume, we range across miscellanistic,
encyclopedic, biographical, novelistic, philosophical, scienti¬c, technical,
didactic and historical works (insofar as these generic distinctions can be
maintained), in Greek and Latin.1 Inevitably we cover only a tiny fraction
of the texts such a project might engage with, picking especially works
1 Many of these areas have been largely neglected in recent scholarship, especially by scholars working
in the area of cultural history, although in some cases that has begun to change. To take just one
example, the ¬eld of ancient technical writing has seen a recent expansion of interest; relevant works
not discussed further below include the following: F¨ gen (ed.) (2005), Horster and Reitz (eds.)
(2003), Santini, Mastrorosa and Zumbo (eds.) (2002), Formisano (2001), Long (2001), Meissner

4 j a son k onig a nd ti m w h i tm a rs h
which seem to us to have paradigmatic status for habits of compilation
in this period “ although we have tried to convey something of the enor-
mous (if inevitably unquanti¬able) scale of this compilatory industry in
our footnoted lists of known authors and works within a range of genres.
The essays in Part 2, following this introduction, are focused especially
on the way in which authors order their own texts and the writings of others.
All of these chapters start by teasing out some of the ordering, structuring
principles and patterns of the texts they examine, and move from there
to discuss the cultural and political resonances of those patterns, and the
ways in which they contribute to authorial self-positioning. The essays in
Part 3 in addition address more head-on the question of how compilatory
texts impose order on the extra-textual world. These chapters are generally
more interested, in other words, in the way in which texts deal with practical
challenges, and the way in which they take on images and ideals from the
world around them “ especially the world of empire “ reshaping them and
using them as structuring reference-points for their own projects. Needless
to say, there can be no ¬rm dividing line between those two approaches.
However, the broad question of the ˜Imperialness™ or otherwise of these
knowledge-ordering strategies “ which is a central preoccupation of many
(though not all) of the chapters which follow “ cannot simply be left

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