On the Diffusion of Zoological Knowledge in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine Period

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Oliver Hellmann, Arnaud Zucker (Eds.)

On the Diffusion of Zoological Knowledge in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine Period

ISBN 978-3-86821-982-1, 198 pp., paperback, € 29,50 (2023)

(AKAN-Einzelschriften, Vol. 14)

The “Diffusion of Zoological Knowledge in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine Period” is characterized by an adaption of a long zoological tradition starting with the biological works of Aristotle. In various ways, the authors of these periods take up, transform, and supplement the traditional data and adapt it to new social, politic, and cultural contexts. Ancient knowledge, in zoology as in other sciences, becomes the subject of Christian discourse, which mainly develops a hermeneutic of this tradition (more than of the natural world directly) especially attentive to its moral and symbolic implications. The present volume brings together eight case studies on this process originally presented at an international conference of the Zoomathia research network held at University of Trier in October 2019. The papers discuss Greek, Latin, and Arabic texts that cover a timespan that starts with the Physiologus (2nd century CE) and Solinus (3rd century CE) and ends with al-Marwaz (12th century CE) and Bartholomew of Messina (13th century).

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"The case studies gathered in this volume are well-structured and present clearly formulated goals, which facilitates the identification of their specific contribution to the overarching topic of knowledge transmission. Basing their arguments on a close analysis of linguistic and lexical features, many of the papers present nuanced insights into the complex and often gradual development of elements of knowledge, motifs, and concepts via different text versions, compilations, translations, and paraphrases. The volume illuminates the connection between the transmission of zoological knowledge and practices of defining and legitimizing different types of knowledge in late antique and medieval society. That a preponderance of papers focuses on late antiquity reflects the significance of that period in the transmission and transformation of knowledge. The glimpses given into later periods, however, indicate the potential for further research on the transmission of zoological knowledge during the Middle Ages and beyond."

Tristan Schmidt, Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2024)

"Das Buch hat aufgrund der Speziesvielfalt (vom Hund über das Pferd bis zum Yak und zum Affen) und der vielfältigen Lebensbereiche, in denen – reale und literarische – Tiere und Menschen aufeinandertreffen (von der Veterinärmedizin über das Studium von Exoten, die Bibelexegese und die Philosophie bis zur privaten, oft wirtschaftlich bestimmten Tierhaltung), das Potential, zur unentbehrlichen Lektüre für alle Rezipient*innen zu werden, die sich für Mensch-Tier-Beziehungen in der Vormoderne interessieren."

Sonja Schreiner, Wiener Studien 137 (2024)