FRRAnt, Antiquarianism in Rome

16 July 2024, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

close up of a stone wall with lettering

The ERC funded project The Fragments of the Roman Republican Antiquarians (FRRAnt) is delighted to invite you to the following event.

This event is free.

Event Information

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Room 780
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Antiquarianism is a disputed term. Within the modern academic disciplines that deal with the phenomenon, no universally accepted definition has yet emerged. In my book I propose a new conceptualisation of ancient "antiquarianism" adapted to the realities and conditions of the Graeco-Roman era as presented by the literary evidence. I propose to study ancient antiquarianism not as a literary genre or a set of habits and attitudes, but as an epistemological mode of understanding the present by uncovering its origins in the past. In other words, antiquarianism poses the question of the historical causalities underpinning the perceptible world. Its epistemological approach to the past is thus "archaeological", i.e. focused on origins, foundations, creations and the persons or agents involved in it (inventors, founding heroes, natural events etc.). The heuristic tools used to explore these primordial events were etymology, aitiology and genealogy.

The phenomenon thus defined is omnipresent in Greco-Roman historical thought and literature and has been analysed in various scholarly contexts and fields under ciphers such as "aitiologisation" or "historicisation". But understanding antiquarianism as an epistemological method allows us to expand the narrow (and often biased) framework in which the term has been applied. The new conceptual approach resolves the much-contested relationship with the genre of historiography (and modern archaeology) by expanding the spectrum of literary manifestations, i.e. the forms and modes of writing that represented the antiquarian mode of thought in antiquity, under a common umbrella term to include a wide range of texts, genres, and media formats that implement a number of clearly defined antiquarian practices. 

This allows us to isolate the manifestation of ancient antiquarianism that I study in my book: the antiquarian Fachliteratur, i.e. a heterogeneous and generically open text group whose core functional denominator is the systematic autonomisation of antiquarian knowledge. The corpus, now completely lost except for fragments, includes monographic treatises, heurematographic collections, aitiological poetry and encyclopaedic handbooks by a number of authors from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE.

The event will be followed by drinks and nibbles. 

All very welcome! 

For any queries, please contact us at frrant@ucl.ac.uk 

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About the Speakers

Dr Raphael Schwitter

at Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität Bonn

Dr Raphael Schwitter joins us to discuss his latest work: Antiquarianism in Rome, 2nd century BC - 3rd century AD.

This volume provides an account of Roman antiquarianism from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD, reconstructing its textual manifestations and analysing the mechanisms of transmission. It is based on a new conceptualisation of antiquarianism as an epistemological mode of understanding the present by uncovering its origins in the past. Etymology, aitiology and genealogy were the tools used to explore the causalities that underpin the perceptible world. Antiquarianism, represented by a wide range of texts and genres throughout antiquity, is traced as an autonomous branch of literature. Fragments and testimonies are used to identify a lost corpus of treatises, lexica and handbooks that formed the scholarly basis of Augustan poets, historiographers and imperial litterateurs.

More about Dr Raphael Schwitter

Professor Giorgio Piras

Head of Department - Professor of Classics at Sapienza University of Rome

Giorgio Piras is a Professor of Classics (“Filologia classica”) at the Department of Classics at La Sapienza, Rome University. His work has focused particularly on Varro’s De lingua Latina, including the publication of Varrone e i ‘poetica verba. Studio sul settimo libro del ‘De lingua Latina’ (Bologna 1998). He is currently working on a new critical edition of Varro’s text for the ‘Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Latinorum Teubneriana’, as well as preparing a comprehensive study on the manuscript tradition and a complete commentary on the text. Giorgio has also carried out research on the history of grammatical ancient theories, the transmission of classical and humanistic texts, and the history of classical scholarship. He has authored and edited several volumes and articles on these subjects. Giorgio has previously been a member of the Academic Senate and is currently the editor in chief of the journal Scienze dell’Antichità and Head of the Department of Classics at La Sapienza. Giorgio is also Member of FRRAnt Editorial Board and Academic Advisory Board.

More about Professor Giorgio Piras