Sunday, June 05, 2016

Review of Derron (ed.), Cosmologies et cosmogonies dans la littérature antique

Pascale Derron (ed.), Cosmologies et cosmogonies dans la littérature antique: huit exposés suivis de discussions et d’un epilogue. Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique, 61. Vandœuvres: Fondation Hardt pour l’étude de l’Antiquité classique, 2015. Pp. x, 355. ISBN 9782600007610. CHF 75.00.

Reviewed by Carolina López-Ruiz, The Ohio State University (

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[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The Geneva-based Fondation Hardt has once again produced an excellent collection of papers. The topic of this volume of Entretiens is cosmologies and cosmogonies in ancient literature, ranging from the early first millennium to Late Antiquity, and from ancient Mesopotamia, Iran, and Israel to Greece, Alexandria, and Rome. This diachronic and interdisciplinary spectrum is crowned by a set of reflections by theoretical physicist Ruth Durrer. Her closing contribution, and the speakers’ visit to CERN, the largest particle accelerator, accentuates the persistence of these questions from Hesiod’s chaos and the biblical tohu-wa-bohu to the Big Bang theory: How did the universe start? Did it appear in a vacuum or was there some matter or energy preceding it and propelling it? How can we describe its composition and dynamics? What is the place of human beings in it?

Includes coverage of Mesopotamian cosmology, the Genesis creation accounts, Mani's cosmology, ancient Jewish creation traditions, and much more.