(Dept of Classics) Faculty Works in Progress: Jared Hudson


Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 12:00pm


Barker Center, Plimpton Room (# 133), 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 or Zoom

This event is only open to members of the Harvard community.

“Pomponius Mela on the Periphery: Writing Roman Geography”

Pre-reading (behind Harvard Key)
RSVP form (behind Harvard Key; lunch will be provided)
(if you have trouble with either link, see below)

The attached work in progress is taken from my current book project (Pomponius Mela on the Periphery: Writing Roman Geography), on the 1st-century CE geographical compendium De Chorographia ("Description of the World"), a once popular but now largely ignored Latin text. My book examines its role in the development of Roman geography and ancient conceptions of global space, arguing that the work’s three most distinctive features (epitome, provinciality, and rhetoricity) together constitute a significant shift in Roman thinking about the way in which the known world, and its far-off edges, could be imagined and represented. My first, short excerpt here introduces the preface (1.1–2) of Mela’s treatise, briefly analyzing the rhetoric of modesty in his opening  program (1.1) and explicating his thumbnail "map" of the entire work (1.2). I read both as programmatic of Mela’s distinctive approach to geographical writing. The second, longer extract examines the central role Mela grants to naming throughout his work, and his particular emphasis on the powerful capacity of names to encapsulate and distill (as well as subsume and therefore occlude). The first section reads Mela’s opening geographical survey (1.3–24) as a prefatory demonstration of the uniquely constitutive power of naming in his work and in the world; next, I survey Mela’s poetics of naming in the periplus proper and offer readings of three exceptionally zoomed-in "place descriptions" as enacting a kind of paradoxography of toponymy. The last section examines Mela’s concise account of the tale of the Philaeni against other extant versions to argue that his special approach to naming reveals his geography’s overarching aim, and special ability, to subordinate time to space.

Zoom link
(You must RSVP in order to attend via Zoom.)

If you have trouble with either the paper download, or the RSVP form link, please email ancientstudies@harvard.edu

For RSVP, please indicate if you would like to attend via Zoom; or, if you are attending in person, if you would like a lunch ordered for you, and if you have any dietary restrictions.