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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter characterizes an important feature of Roman scientific discourse that sets it apart from the Greek tradition. Valorization of the mos maiorum (custom of the ancestors) spawned a conviction among Roman intellectuals that voices from the past possess more authority than those of the present. Those who wrote about natural philosophy thus tended to idealize tradition in ways that ended up effacing their own contributions. This habit did not preclude innovation and debate, but did serve to obscure the sources of ideas, with figures from the remote past such as Pythagoras often given credit for lore of much more recent vintage. Illustrations of this phenomenon are drawn from a wide range of authors including Cato, Fuluius Nobilior, Varro, Ovid, and Moderatus of Gades.

Keywords: Ennius, Fuluius Nobilior, Moderatus of Gades, Nigidius Figulus, Numa Pompilius, Pythagoras, Sulpicius Gallus, Thrasyllus of Mendes, Varro

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