Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review of Berrey, Hellenistic Science at Court

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Marquis Berrey, Hellenistic Science at Court. Science, technology and medicine in ancient cultures, 5. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. Pp. 274. ISBN 9783110539776. €99.95. Reviewed by Max Leventhal, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge (
Scholarly advances in rescuing Hellenistic culture from narratives of decline have often focused on Hellenistic literature and art, explaining form and content in terms of social and political contexts. Marquis Berrey offers in this monograph instead a reconsideration of modern ways of thinking about Hellenistic science. His central questions are: "What was the relationship between science and monarchy in the third century BCE in the Hellenistic world? And why does it matter?" (p. 1). This book thus looks not to poets such as Callimachus, Apollonius and Theocritus, but the works – both material and textual – of scientists such as Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Andreas of Carystus.

In the Introduction, Berrey presents the methodological frameworks he will adopt in the book. The first and most important is the concept of the court. ...
The Letter of Aristeas is a major source for his "thick description" of the Hellenistic royal court.

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