This chapter explores the practicalities of empire and colonialism as these affected the conditions of cultural production under Roman rule and adumbrates contours of enquiry within several such domains. It commences with general remarks on the fit between ancient empire as a political form and the regular features of early modern and modern experience that gave rise to contemporary postcolonial theory. Subsequent sections explore the metropolitan desire for knowledge pursuant to governance; the responses that this desire generated in colonial contexts, in both conduct and self-understanding; and the lingering power of imperial knowledge in ancient and modern scholarship. The essay closes by enquiring into nature of elite cultural production under Rome, asking how imperial were the empire’s elites and how metropolitan were their tastes.
Vittoria Dolcetti Corazza
This essay involves a review of Gothic literature through the presentation of the documents that have reached us today; the most important is the translation of the Bible completed by the Arian Visigoth bishop Ulfila in Moesia in the second half of the fourth century. To better understand the cultural background behind the composition of the Gothic documents, this essay also gives an overview of the cultural history of the Goths, in particular the process of their conversion to the Arian doctrine of Christianity, which came about in the multicultural, multiethnic environment in the Roman provinces of Dacia and Moesia. Particular attention is paid to the manuscript tradition that directs us to Ostrogothic Italy (in the fifth to sixth centuries), where the Bible enjoyed wide diffusion: it was copied several times, studied in Gothic and Latin exegetical schools, and used in the liturgy and catecheses.
Elton Barker and Melissa Terras
Contrary perhaps to expectation, Classical studies is at the vanguard of the latest technological developments for using digital tools and computational techniques in research. This article outlines its pioneering adoption of digital tools and methods, and investigates how the digital medium is helping to transform the study of Greek and Latin literature. It discusses the processes and consequences of digitization, explaining how technologies like multispectral imaging are increasing the textual corpus, while examining how annotation, engagement, and reuse are changing the way we think about “the text”. It also considers how the digital turn is reinvigorating textual analysis, by exploring the broader ecosystem, within which the digital text can now be studied, and which provides enriched contexts for understanding that are constantly shifting and expanding. Classical literature in the digital age has the potential to both challenge dominant modes of thinking about antiquity and disrupt traditional ways of doing research.
Classical Chinese literature exerts a powerful hold on readers and writers in later periods. The question of how earlier literature was preserved, classified, anthologized, and distributed is vital for understanding how authors defined their creative and interpretive endeavors during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Printing expanded, with a dramatic increase in numbers and variety in the sixteenth century. For many of the texts discussed in our volume, the earliest extant editions or reconstituted versions date from the Ming dynasty, and many important commentaries and annotations were produced during the late imperial period. Encyclopedias and collectanea show how tradition is repackaged. Political legitimation is bound up with state-sponsored comprehensive collections and encyclopedias. Anthologies of earlier literature and commentaries on them yield insights into literary trends in later periods. Primers and textbooks demonstrate the role of classical literature in acquiring basic linguistic and literary competence.
Mario De Nonno
Our knowledge of Latin literature and, more generally, of any text of a non-documentary nature written in Latin after the First Punic War, depends as a rule on an unbroken process of conservation, transformation, and loss that developed from antiquity to the modern age and moved through subsequent phases of aggregation and disgregation, recovery and dispersion. Prior to the invention of the printing press, texts destined for circulation were disseminated through a succession of individual handwritten copies, which were chronologically discontinuous and more or less faithful to the exemplar. Such circumstances of textual transmission require that the text's surviving copies, which often contain widely differing readings, undergo a comparative evaluation – a judgement or criticism which goes by the name of ‘textual criticism’. A necessary outcome of the historical and cultural conditions of textual transmission is that a great many Latin works have reached us through a tradition originating in a single archetype.