Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities - Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

Malleable Texts, Fluid Authorships: Ancient Pharmacology and Late Antiquity

Workshop of project A03 "The Transfer of Medical Episteme in the ‘Encyclopaedic’ Compilations of Late Antiquity" of Collaborative Research Center 980 "Episteme in Motion" in cooperation with Academy research project "Galen of Pergamum. The Transmission, Interpretation and Completion of Ancient Medicine" at Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

July, 7-8 2022


Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Unter den Linden 8
10117 Berlin

For the program see here (following soon)

For an overview of the whole research project see here


Research on ancient pharmacological texts has increased dramatically in recent years. Several important projects and doctoral theses are underway, promising to deliver ground-breaking results in the next decade. In this scholarly context, various projects at the Humboldt-Universität and the university of Warwick seem to address converging questions on the changing nature of pharmacological texts across time and space. Authorship becomes more fluid, with the same text receiving various attributions; texts undergo changes of size, ordering, format, as they get adapted for new audiences. As texts become repackaged, manuscripts and papyri offer privileged evidence of those changes. Early translations of Greek works into Latin, Syriac and then Arabic result in epitomes and other reworked, shortened texts. Yet the transmission of ancient Greek pharmacology is often made difficult to apprehend due to missing links and medieval, fragmentary evidence. This workshop therefore proposes to offer complementary perspectives on those shifts, through communications on Greek, Latin and Arabic evidence. Themes that will be addressed include language, style, authorship, dating, transmission, manuscripts.