By Jason König, Greg Woolf

There's a wealthy physique of encyclopaedic writing which survives from the 2 millennia ahead of the Enlightenment. This e-book sheds new mild on that fabric. It lines the improvement of traditions of data ordering which stretched again to Pliny and Varro and others within the classical international. it really works with a large proposal of encyclopaedism, resisting the concept there has been any transparent pre-modern style of the 'encyclopaedia', and displaying in its place how the rhetoric and methods of complete compilation left their mark on a shocking diversity of texts. within the method it attracts cognizance to either notable similarities and amazing modifications among conventions of encyclopaedic compilation in several classes, with a spotlight totally on European/Mediterranean tradition. The e-book covers classical, medieval (including Byzantine and Arabic) and Renaissance tradition in flip, and combines chapters which survey entire sessions with others centred heavily on person texts as case experiences.

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Some encyclopaedic texts were primarily conservative, aiming to control and capture and preserve knowledge; others aimed to do something more radical, opening up new horizons for human understanding and stamping encyclopaedic traditions with their own peculiar approaches; yet others combined both conservative and radical impulses in tension with each other. Often the judgement about how conservative a particular work actually was depends on the eye of the beholder. A good example is Ian Johnson’s discussion of the work of Reginald Pecock, whose attempt to construct a new order for the whole of Christian teaching in a way which made it accessible to a lay readership without knowledge of Latin was viewed as dangerously radical within the relatively conservative context of pious medieval encyclopaedism, and led to him being condemned as theologically unsound, stripped of his bishopric and incarcerated.

14 Barnes (1997) 32–3. 15 Barnes (2000) 62. See Keen in chapter 14. Cf. Fowler (1997) 17–19, who similarly sees the kind of encyclopaedism which attempts full coverage of the world in a single text as a Roman idea, hard to parallel in full in the Greek tradition. Encyclopaedism in the Roman empire The classical bookworld What then made the late republic and the early empire so distinctive as fruitful grounds for encyclopaedism? 18 Here, however, we want to address a rather different issue. Our argument in this section is simply that the increase in encyclopaedic writing in the Roman world was a response as much as anything to the proliferation of available written material.

What is not clear is how far his publications should be viewed as part of a systematic project of mapping out the different fields of human knowledge: there 5 Other key sources include Plato, Hippias Maior 285a–286a; Hippias Minor 368c–d; and see O’Grady (2008) for overview. Encyclopaedism in the Roman empire is simply not enough of his work surviving to be sure. There are other philosophical candidates for the title of proto-encyclopaedist in the fourth century BCE. 8 Some caveats are necessary.

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