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Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity

Egyptian Oedipus: Athanasius Kircher and the Secrets of Antiquity [Kindle Edition]

Daniel Stolzenberg

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Product Description


"There is much that is new in this insightful and scrupulously researched book, whose most notable contributions would appear to be the restoration of Kircher's place in the intellectual and antiquarian culture of his own day, with due consideration of the subsequent reception, and rejection, of his work during the following century. Especially notable is Stolzenberg's characterization Kircher's Egyptological project as the product of 'an encounter between two early modern intellectual traditions: erudition (antiquarian research and philology) and occult philosophy (the Renaissance Neoplatonic tradition, based on a lineage of esoteric wisdom attributed to extremely ancient wise men).'"--Brian A. Curran, Pennsylvania State University "Early Science and Medicine "

Product Description

A contemporary of Descartes and Newton, Athanasius Kircher, S. J. (1601/2–80), was one of Europe’s most inventive and versatile scholars in the baroque era. He published more than thirty works in fields as diverse as astronomy, magnetism, cryptology, numerology, geology, and music. But Kircher is most famous—or infamous—for his quixotic attempt to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs and reconstruct the ancient traditions they encoded. In 1655, after more than two decades of toil, Kircher published his solution to the hieroglyphs, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, a work that has been called “one of the most learned monstrosities of all times.” Here Daniel Stolzenberg presents a new interpretation of Kircher’s hieroglyphic studies, placing them in the context of seventeenth-century scholarship on paganism and Oriental languages.
Situating Kircher in the social world of baroque Rome, with its scholars, artists, patrons, and censors, Stolzenberg shows how Kircher’s study of ancient paganism depended on the circulation of texts, artifacts, and people between Christian and Islamic civilizations. Along with other participants in the rise of Oriental studies, Kircher aimed to revolutionize the study of the past by mastering Near Eastern languages and recovering ancient manuscripts hidden away in the legendary libraries of Cairo and Damascus. The spectacular flaws of his scholarship have fostered an image of Kircher as an eccentric anachronism, a throwback to the Renaissance hermetic tradition. Stolzenberg argues against this view, showing how Kircher embodied essential tensions of a pivotal phase in European intellectual history, when pre-Enlightenment scholars pioneered modern empirical methods of studying the past while still working within traditional frameworks, such as biblical history and beliefs about magic and esoteric wisdom.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 16862 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (1 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #689,506 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding cultural and historical,study 26 Dec 2013
By J. Hardin - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Traces the progress of knowledge of the antediluvian world, as it was understood in the late seventeenth century, by analyzing the remarkable works of mystic and scholar, Athanasius Kircher. A work of great erudition throwing light on the evolution of scholarly understanding of the distant past.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed contribution to philosphical history 22 Sep 2013
By Paul Clark - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kircher and his work is one of the most important yet greatly neglected areas of the Western /Philosophical tradition.
Stolzenberg has done every serious researcher and scholar of the tradition a favor with this contribution.
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