Friday, 1 May 2015

Maria Konstantinidou: Travelling and trading in the Greek fathers: faraway lands, peoples and products

This short communication will discuss the view of overseas trading and geography in the writings of the Greek fathers. Their perception of geographical space in general and of overseas lands in particular will be examined. An attempt will be made to assess the writers’ awareness of distance, topographical layout and geographical correlation between countries, available routes and accessibility of different lands. The accuracy of information provided will be considered, with reference to known difficulties/ambiguities of the time (e.g.  the two Indias).
A number of passages will be examined, where travelling and trading is mentioned, in order to extract (mainly indirect) information on the fathers’ views on the culture of travelling and travelers, on merchants and trading, as well as on goods and products. The context in which this information is given and the positive/negative/neutral light it is presented in will be considered.
The passages studied will largely exclude those putting geographical space and trading to literary use and figurative language, unless they are of significance towards the author’s understanding /perception of the subject. However, the interest of the communication lies mainly in the factual usage of concepts relating to trade and geography, however rarely encountered. Thus, treatises and exegetical works are richer sources than more literary works.

An attempt will be made to track the sources for the reports and accounts provided, but it will be mostly hypothetical, since such sources are rarely mentioned.

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