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date: 19 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter explores the ancient Greek and Roman literature on wonders, “paradoxical” objects and events in the natural (and human) worlds, things that are strange but true. The main source for this literature was not observation or experience, but other literature. The chapter describes the genesis and development of the genre and defines its common characteristics; introduces its main authors; and explains its importance for the history of ancient science. Paradoxographical texts have been characterized variously as: (1) lists of facts which are considered wondrous, or (2) a sensationalist and consumer-oriented type of writing, or (3) the second-rate extracts from proper historical and scientific authors. Paradoxography was a thriving literary field from Early Hellenistic times, throughout the Greco-Roman era, and into Byzantine times.

Keywords: Antigonus of Carystus, Aristotle, Callimachus, Isigonus of Nicaea, Nicolaus of Damascus, paradoxa, Phlegon of Tralles, Theophrastus, wonders

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