Session Four Abstracts

Panel A – The Natural World

  • Athina Malapani, Co-Tutelle with Sorbonne-Paris IV: Plants which Cure in Ancient Cypriotic Medicine: Orthodox Ancient Medicine or Magic?

Abstract: The word Orthodoxy is usually referred to the religious ethics and practices and particularly, those of the Christianity. On the other hand, this word may mean the right, the correct way in order to be something effective or someone successful. This meaning of orthodoxy has been taken into consideration for the inspiration and the creation of this paper.

Undoubtedly, plants, herbs, botanies and generally, vegetable material of various types were used excessively in ancient medicine and pharmaceutical manufacture. Especially, the Mediterranean countries, such as Cyprus and Greece, had, and still nowadays have, a remarkable variety of vegetation thanks to the subtropical conditions of the Mediterranean climate, which benefits the growing up of many plants and the creation of other kinds. So, there are many pharmaceutical prescriptions that are referred to the use of this vegetation in order to treat many types of health problems. On the contrary, there were also plants and botanies used in magic, as they are referred in magical papyri; hence, there is no orthodoxy in their use.

The aim of this paper is double. Firstly, plants used in pharmaceutical prescriptions in the texts of Ancient Medicine of Cyprus will be presented. These plants will be described in great detail and there will be also referred their use in Cypriot prescriptions. It is necessary to clear up that referring to the Ancient Cypriot Medicine, means the corpus of ancient Greek and Latin texts that refer to doctors and medical writers of Cyprus; there are many names, but the most of them cannot be identified, because of the poor evidence from the texts and/ or a few epigraphies found; in addition, there are many names of plants and other materia medica consisted of minerals (such as cooper) and / or substances of animal origin (such as animal fats) that it was believed to be found in Cyprus. Thus, a short presentation of the climate of Cyprus’s climate and natural conditions will be resented and then, the most important of this vegetation in prescriptions will also be presented, pointing out its position in Cypriot prescriptions.  The second aim of the paper will be the examination of the ancient magic. It will be studied whether the plants examined above are presented in magical papyri or not and what their use was. In any case, magic and orthodoxy medicine and pharmacology were combined in Antiquity.

With this paper, it would be made an effort to provide both the orthodoxy and the non-orthodoxy in the perception of the ancient way of thinking about the world. However, it would be provided the field of ancient medicine of Cyprus, which is not so widespread in the scientific circles.


  • Athanasios Rinotas, KU Leuven: The Alchemy of Albertus Magnus: Orthodox Aristotelian Notions at stake or not?

Abstract: It was in 1144, when Robert of Chester translated the first alchemical text into Latin and hoc modo introduced the  unknown-till then- art of alchemy to the scholars of western Europe. However, alchemy was considered a mechanical art and therefore its name was often dealt with scorn by most of scholars.

In this paper I will show that in the 13th century Albertus Magnus made a great effort to legitimise alchemy by proving that the transmutation of the base metals into gold was possible indeed. In order to make his point clear he established his theory of transmutation on basic Aristotelian notions, which can be depicted in his work De Mineralibus. So, at first, I will present the genuine Aristotelian metal theory, which explicates how metals are formed in the bowels of earth and consequently I will show how Albertus Magnus uses this theory as the basic pillar in order to entrench his alchemical theory. Then, I will navigate through the original Latin text of De Mineralibus in order to determine the fragments that allow us to understand the mechanism of the transmutation of the metals which was highly depended on Aristotelian metaphysical notions. At last, I will examine whether these Aristotelian notions were used in a catastrophic way for the Aristotelian philosophy or whether we can speak of an “innocent” distortion of these notions that led to the generation of an impetus towards the pseudo-sciences in general.


  • Miriam Bay, University of Birmingham: Daedalus’ Legacy: Classical Invocation & Arboreal Invention in Italian Renaissance Garden Labyrinth Design

Abstract: The grand gardens of the Italian Renaissance were grown from ancient roots, topographies of Renaissance imagination shaped by classical antiquity. Among the ancient architectural models from which garden designers drew inspiration, the master craftsman Daedalus was emulated in the creation of labyrinths, constructed from elaborate planting patterns. Engaging with examples from the sixteenth century gardens at the Villa Castello, Florence, Villa Mattei, Rome, Villa d’Este, Tivoli and Villa Lante, Bagnaia, this paper explores the reflection and refraction of Daedalus’ legacy in Italian Renaissance labyrinth design. It will investigate how the labyrinth’s component architectural, iconographical and botanical elements recalled its ancient counterparts and mythical landscapes, enabling visitors to locate themselves within an alternative reality. It will consider the architectural interpretation of meander patterns, derived from Ovid’s description of Daedalus’ maze (Metamorphoses book 8), its bewildering alleys compared with the Maeander River’s winding course, and discuss the dialogue between nature and culture this comparison invoked. Central to this analysis will be the frequently overlooked horticultural programmes, the discourse of botanical language embodied in the plantings’ semiotic and somatic properties, employing methodologies derived from sensory anthropology. By exploring the dynamic interaction between the intellectual and physical stimulus of labyrinth design, this paper defines labyrinths as allusive classical structures and dramatic sensory monuments, generating a powerfully immersive and evocative encounter for those who entered.



Panel B – Interactive Workshop: Issues in Translation


  • Moderated by: Melanie Fitton- Hayward (Nottingham), Harriet Lander (Nottingham) and Holly Ranger (Birmingham)

Abstract: Translation – orthodoxy or dissent? An interactive workshop exploring conference theme of ‘orthodoxy or dissent’ within the framework of translation studies. Participants are invited to bring a short piece of text (about a paragraph long) to discuss in relation to these themes. Texts can be translations themselves or theory and methodology surrounding translation studies. These, where possible, will be circulated to the group and we will examine the idea of whether or not there can be an ‘orthodox’ way to translate and approach translation either through theory or practice.


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