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Introducing the volume to come, this chapter explains the need for new approaches to the study of literary and cultural interactions in the Roman empire that cross linguistic, cultural and religious boundaries. It begins with a brief overview of the diversity of cross-cultural interactions that can be traced, on and off the page, between different individuals and communities in the second century CE. It analyses current and innovative methodologies for studying ‘intertextuality’ in different disciplines, including approaches that amplify gaps or silences, as well as instances of dialogue/cross-fertilisation. It then stresses three ways in which the volume particularly aims to contribute: firstly, by including technical, documentary, epigraphic and oral material in its wide-ranging study of ‘literary’ interactivity; secondly, by stressing the relationship between textual interaction, cultural practices and material aspects of empire; thirdly, by working out from intertextuality to interdiscursivity, shining a spotlight on the migration of ideas as well specific interactions. The introduction ends with a case study – the story of Arion and the dolphin, retold by many ancient authors – that exemplifies the processes of cross-cultural travel and transmission in the ancient world and also the challenges that scholars face in tracing and interpreting such cross-cultural interactions.
This chapter argues that Plutarch’s moralising works (especially the Progress in Virtue and Parallel Lives) show signs of having been significantly influenced by Roman exemplary ethics. Plutarch brings Roman ideas about exemplary ethics and imitation to bear on the Greek philosophical tradition, and his critique of Platonic mimesis is emboldened by the critical Roman framework which he must have encountered as a lived Roman tradition, not just in the Latin literature that he may have read as a source for his Roman lives and other writings, but also in day-to-day experiences with his Roman friends, such as Sosius Senecio, to whom he dedicates both Progress in Virtue and the Parallel Lives.
This book explores new ways of analysing interactions between different linguistic, cultural, and religious communities across the Roman Empire from the reign of Nerva to the Severans (96–235 CE). Bringing together leading scholars in classics with experts in the history of Judaism, Christianity and the Near East, it looks beyond the Greco-Roman binary that has dominated many studies of the period, and moves beyond traditional approaches to intertextuality in its study of the circulation of knowledge across languages and cultures. Its sixteen chapters explore shared ideas about aspects of imperial experience - law, patronage, architecture, the army - as well as the movement of ideas about history, exempla, documents and marvels. As the second volume in the Literary Interactions series, it offers a new and expansive vision of cross-cultural interaction in the Roman world, shedding light on connections that have gone previously unnoticed among the subcultures of a vast and evolving Empire.