Genre, Conventions, and Cultural Programme in Gellius' Noctes Atticae

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The chapter aims to delineate Gellius' view of knowledge and intellectual life by examining his adhesion and departure from the generic conventions of ancient miscellanies and similar works. His professedly selective assemblage of a broad range of learned material presented as an disarrayed sequence of self-contained items reflects a perception of the body of knowledge as an unsystematic congeries of isolated pieces of information, which stands in sharp contrast to the view of knowledge as an organic system that modern science shares with the main stream of ancient scholars. At the same time, the arrangement of the book as a whole and the variety of dramatic settings of its individual chapters also creates a model of intellectual life in which knowledge is assiduously sought, but randomly encountered and accumulated throughout one's adult life, and which thus conveys no sense of a linear progression in learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Worlds of Aulus Gellius
EditorsLeofranc Holford-Strevens, Amiel Vardi
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199264827
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2004


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