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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the reception, projection, and invention of Babylonian literature in the Roman Empire, taking into account the perspectives of classical authors as well as the experiences and aspirations of ancient readers. It first reviews the development of cuneiform literature in the Hellenistic period and how it influenced Greek and Roman ideas about the wisdom of the Chaldeans. It then discusses Babylonian fictions before turning to the ancient reception and definition of Babylonian literature, with particular emphasis on how maps of reading interacted with literary production in the Roman Empire. It also describes how the development of individual literatures in the empire was informed by shared notions about place, language, and literature and how, under different circumstances, the very idea of what constituted a literature (Syrian, Egyptian, Greek, etc.) could change over time.

Keywords: Babylonian literature, reception, Roman Empire, cuneiform literature, Hellenistic period, Chaldeans, reading, literary production, language

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