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Intellectual Life and Learning on Rhodes (168BC-AD44)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ILLR (Intellectual Life and Learning on Rhodes (168BC-AD44))

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-08-31

ILLR-Intellectual Life and Learning on Rhodes (168BC-AD44)
Higher education is fundamental to the exchange of knowledge and training of individuals and societies. This is as true today as it was in pre-modern cultures. Students and researchers move between different institutions across different countries to pursue new research and acquire further learning and skills. They contribute to and improve the knowledge economy of their host and resident countries. How did a knowledge economy work in the ancient world? During Greco-Roman antiquity, the island of Rhodes in the SE Aegean serves as a point of comparison and inspiration with analogue features of today’s knowledge economies, such as the mobility of students and researchers, the formalisation and diversification of academic disciplines, and the use of heritage and learning as a means of identity. Rhodes was a naval power, a hub for international trading and banking, and a centre for learning for Greek and Roman elites. It had an international reputation for its art, civic institutions, philosophers, scholars, schools of rhetoric, and mediators. It was a venue of cultural cross-fertilization and where long-established disciplines (such as philosophy, rhetoric, and philology) blended together and other disciplines such as the sciences and engineering flourished. Noted figures include, Posidonius (born c. 135 BC), the polymath and leading Stoic philosopher of his time, who wrote works on physics, ethics, logic, mathematics, the sciences, geography, and history. He was an influential thinker and writer, who was sought out by intellectuals and statesmen, e.g. Cicero and Pompey the Great. Apollonios Molon taught rhetoric to e.g. Cicero, Caesar, and Brutus. Hipparchus (c. 190-120 BC) led Greek astronomy and geography towards precise, predictive and empirically confirmed calculations e.g. he calculated the length of the tropical year at 365.1448 days, a deviation from the modern value of about six minutes. He indirectly influenced Indian planetary theories and he was one of the main sources of Claudius Ptolemy's Almagest, an astronomical work which considerably influenced Byzantine, Islamic, and Western European science. Scholars and students of Roman antiquarianism, oratory and philosophy undertook further studies on Rhodes, including Stilo, Antony the orator, Cicero, Caesar and the lawyer Servius Sulpicius Rufus. Clitomachus, a Rhodian philosopher, was one of the main authorities for Cicero’s philosophical works (De Div. and DRN); Posidonius was a partial source for the argument of Cicero’s De Natura Deorum 2; and Panaetius’ On Duty, supplied by Posidonius, was also the starting point for Cicero’s On Duties, a work of considerable influence up to the 19th century.

The specific objectives (SO) are:
(SO1) to demonstrate Rhodes as an important intersection within the ancient Mediterranean knowledge economy.
(SO2) to identify and analyze the features of Rhodian intellectual life.
(SO3) to trace Rhodes’ role in the development of Greco-Roman culture, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences.
(SO4) to describe and outline the factors in Rhodes’ transformation from a predominately economic and political power to a cultural one.

ILLR draws upon literary, archaeological and epigraphic evidence to demonstrate its pivotal and under-appreciated role as an important intersection within networks of learning. ILLR demonstrates several precedents (e.g. the study of heritage and anthropology), connections (education and mobility), and continuities (e.g. grammar and linguistics) in modern intellectual life.
I undertook a range of activities and broadened my research expertise into Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy, the ancient sciences, and epigraphy. The outputs are a monograph, an edited volume, and three articles. I communicated my research to academic and public audiences and organised and participated in events to further disseminate the project results. I organised research trips to museums and libraries in Berlin, Cologne, Florence, and Rhodes. I developed collaborations and knowledge exchange with institutions in Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Rhodes.

The OA monograph will be published by California Classical Studies. It consists of ten chapters divided into three sections. The first part (‘Heritage’) establishes Rhodes’ position in networks of learning and commerce, its cultural environment, and its knowledge economy. The second and largest part (‘Learning’) describes and analyses the distinct, but overlapping, facets of intellectual life (i.e. poetry, ethnography, science and engineering pursuits, rhetoric, philosophy, and philology) and the individuals involved. The final part (‘Legacy’) shows how Rhodes was a finishing school for the Greco-Roman elite and developed Greco-Roman culture.

There were two articles in English and one in Italian. The first two were academic articles on key texts. The third article, derived from a public engagement talk, was aimed at high school students and general readers. It compares Hellenistic Rhodes and Renaissance Venice: two maritime, commercial, and self-instituted republics with vibrant cultural milieus.

I organized a seminar and conference panel to examine the activities of centres of learning outside Alexandria. The proceedings elucidate the workings and practices of these venues, individuals associated with them, and map out nodes of learning in the Mediterranean. I also recorded an episode for The Hellenistic Age Podcast, where I provided an overview of ILLR.
ILLR is the first intellectual and cultural history of Rhodes. ILLR combines literary and material evidence together for the first time to establish Rhodes’ cultural environment and its role as a centre of learning for Greek and Roman elites, its influence, and its role in the transformation of Rhodian and Greek identity from a military-economic power to a cultural one.

The expected results are a monograph, an edited volume and three articles (see above). I communicated my research to English, Italian, and international audiences. I developed collaborations and knowledge exchange with institutions in Denmark, Germany, Italy and Rhodes ILLR has allowed me to develop new areas of research and teaching, which leads on to further projects in areas of ancient learning, Byzantine and early modern reception of classical literature, and Hellenistic epigraphy. I plan to write a cultural history of Rhodes to the present day in a book aimed at non-academic audiences.

ILLR makes accessible ancient responses and practices to notionally similar concepts and skills used today, such as rhetorical training, the formation of an argument, and the development of empiricism. ILLR itself acts a mirror to other European countries and their own knowledge economies, e.g. the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. ILLR is an antecedent of the activities of the ERA and compliments the European policy area of Culture, Education and Youth by providing ancient models for modern practices. ILLR shows how communities and places, when no longer regional powers, have an enduring cultural legacy and active intellectual life that is sought out by others to improve their own. ILLR advances the state of the art within the field of European and worldwide levels due to its potential applications of its aims and methodologies to other knowledge economies in the pre-modern and modern world.