Noscendi Nilum Cupido by Eleni Manolaraki
By Eleni Manolaraki
What significations did Egypt have for the Romans a century after Actium and afterwards? How did Greek imperial authors reply to the Roman fascination with the Nile? This publication explores Egypt's aftermath past the hostility of Augustan rhetoric, and Greek and Roman topoi of Egyptian ''barbarism''. Set opposed to historical past and fabric tradition, Julio-Claudian, Flavian, Antonine, and Severan authors demonstrate a multivalent Egypt that defines Rome's more and more diffuse identification whereas final a tantalizing tertium quid among Roman Selfhood and overseas Otherness
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Ann. 42; Suet. Nero 31, Mart. Sp. 6; Plin. Nat. 109, with Griffin 1984, 126 – 8; Champlin 2003a, 200 – 9. On Egyptian features in the Domus Aurea see Pfeiffer 2010, 89; Cesaretti 1989, 57 – 8. Partly because of his abuse of water, Nero is later viewed as prodigal and hybristic builder (Malamud 2009, 304 – 6; Elsner 1994). On the cultural and religious concerns regarding the exploitation of water in the first century CE, see Santini 1991, 63 – 113. 53 On nilus/euripus as the technical term for a draining canal, cf.
To be religiously proper, his argument runs, Roman appreciation of Egyptian cult should be first philosophically satisfying. In turn, it can only be so if it is filtered through Greek learning or paideia. 40 The transition from Plutarch to Philostratus’ biography of Apollonius of Tyana is legitimated by links between Plutarch and the Greek novel. The Plutarchan allegoresis of the Nile in DIO is echoed in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica, a work with narrative similarities to the VA. 41 Indeed my discussion of the Nile in the VA draws upon discussions of 37 See Whitmarsh 2001, 1 – 38 and esp.
The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Talbert and Bagnall 2000), helpfully illustrates the Nile’s course and riparian topography. 49 Nimis 2004, 48. Introduction 25 writing about the fringes of the empire. The untraceable origin of the Nile belongs to this fictionalized fringe and provides opportunity for projecting aspirations of power and knowledge on its blank canvas: ‘the Nile…presented the Romans with the challenge of a seemingly unattainable goal, the kind of place that was most vividly imagined as an alien or even antipodean world.