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CHRYSOPOETICS: The Commentary of Olympiodoros the Alchemist: A Puzzle to be Assembled. by Cristina Viano, CNRS/Sorbonne, Paris (prequel)

22.04.2024 | 16:00 - 18:00

CHRYSOPOETICS: Workshop with the Dahlem Junior Host Program, convened by Leonie Rau and Alexandre Roberts

Abstract: Olympiodoros’ commentary on the lost Katenergeian of Zosimos appears at first sight like a discontinuous and frustrating puzzle. I propose here to analyze its structure and to show the elements of continuity and coherence which hold this puzzle together. I will then propose an hypothesis on the identity of this author and his relationship with Alexandrian Neoplatonism.

This presentation is part of Chrysopoetic Recipes and Chemical Theory in Medieval Greek and Arabic Texts, workshop convened by Leonie Rau and Alexandre M. Roberts, funded by the Dahlem Junior Host Program 2024.

The workshop investigates Greek and Arabic texts containing or concerning recipes for making gold, asking how and why their authors, readers, and users understood these recipes, as texts (genre), as procedures (what precisely they were meant to accomplish), and as examples of natural phenomena calling out for explanation (why and in what sense they worked). How do such recipes compare to other types of recipes (e.g., for drugs, ink, perfume, or foodstuffs)? How did understandings of chrysopoetic recipes change over time? And what can recipes teach us about developments in practical and theoretical chemistry over the course of the Greek and Arabic middle ages?


MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2024 (prequel session)

Cristina Viano (CNRS/Sorbonne, Paris): The Commentary of Olympiodoros the Alchemist: A Puzzle to be Assembled | DISCUSSANT: Alexandre Roberts

Venue: Institut für Wissensgeschichte, hybrid participation via WebEx

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2024

Beatrice Gruendler (Freie Universität Berlin) | Welcoming Remarks, followed by a word of introduction from the convenors Leonie Rau and Alexandre Roberts

Regula Forster (Universität Tübingen): The Most Important Recipes? Al-Jildakī on Alchemy among the Specific Properties | DISCUSSANT: Beatrice Gruendler

Gerasimos Merianos (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens): Making, Simulating, and Counterfeiting Gold: What Was Chrysopœia Supposed to Mean? | DISCUSSANT: J. Cale Johnson

Lucia Raggetti (University of Bologna): On Pages, Clothes, Swords, and Shoes: The Supports’ Angle on Gold and Its Imitations | DISCUSSANT: Leonie Rau

FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2024

Vincenzo Carlotta (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Reiteration: A Procedural Step and Its Theoretical Implications in Byzantine Alchemy | DISCUSSANT: Jan J. van Ginkel

Alexandre Roberts (University of Southern California): Chrysopoetic Recipe as Locus for Chemical Exegesis in the Greek Hierotechnical Tradition | DISCUSSANT: Isabel Toral

Matteo Martelli (University of Bologna): Egg-Chrysopoeia in Byzantium | DISCUSSANT: Philip van der Eijk

Venue: Institut für Wissensgeschichte, in person participation.


The Chrysopoetic workshop series is supported by the DHJP - Dahlem Junior Host Program 2024, Freie Universität Berlin


Institut für Wissensgeschichte des Altertums, Freie Universität Berlin, J. Cale Johnson

Arabic Literature Cosmopolitan (Leibniz Prize), Arabic Studies Freie Universität Berlin, Beatrice Gruendler


Contact and registration
Leonie Rau leonie.rau@fu-berlin.de and Alexandre M. Roberts robe941@usc.edu

Zeit & Ort

22.04.2024 | 16:00 - 18:00

Institut für Wissensgeschichte des Altertums
Arnimallee 10, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem
in person and hybrid participation via WebEx