Recorded: May 29, 2019
Event: Ancient Iran and the Classical World, An International Symposium
Citation: Engels, David. "Towards and Intellectual History of the Seleucid Empire?" Ancient Iran and the Classical World, An International Symposium. May 29, 2019
by David Engels (Free University of Brussels)
Towards and Intellectual History of the Seleucid Empire?
When speaking about the “intellectual history” of Classical Athens, Republican Rome or Late Antiquity, even the neophyte to Classical history will be capable of delineating their general trends and tendencies and of showing how philosophy, religion and historiography and art were inseparably linked to each other and subject to a same general evolution. Even the intellectual history of the Ptolemaic Empire, coalescing in the fertile productions of the Alexandrian scholars and artists, has been reconstructed in its broad outlines. However, when it comes to the intellectual history of the Seleukid Empire, even most scholars would have considerable difficulties in sketching its general evolution. Given the lamentable state of our sources, this is, of course, no surprise; however, it is amazing that hitherto, no endeavor has yet been made to at least delimitating this general field of enquiry. The proposed paper will try to remediate to this situation not only by presenting what little information we have about the broader evolution of “Seleukid” intellectual history, but also by taking into account the situation of the late Achaemenid and the early Arsakid Empires which may give some precious information about the general trends which must have taken place in between.
About the Speaker
Prof. Dr. David Engels, born 1979 in Verviers, is a Belgian Ancient Historian. From 1997 to 2002, he studied History, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Aachen (RWTH). Thanks to a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, he completed his PhD in 2005 with a dissertation on Roman Divination (publ. in 2007 under the title: “Das römische Vorzeichenwesen”, Stuttgart, Steiner, 2007). After sojourning at the universities of Cologne, Liège and Nottingham and working as assistant professor in Ancient History at the University of Aachen from 2005 to 2008, Engels became professor and chair for Roman History at the Free University of Brussels at the age of 29. From 2009 to 2017, he also worked, first as redactor, finally as director, for the academic publishing house “Latomus”. Since 2018, Engels is on leave from his Brussels chair and works as research professor at the Instytut Zachodni, Poznań (Poland). Apart from his studies on Roman History and cultural comparatism (see e.g. his monograph “Le déclin”, Paris, Toucan, 2013 on the analogies between the Late Roman Republic and the current European Union), Engels has been mostly active in the field of Seleukid studies (see his 2017 monograph “Benefactors, Kings, Rulers”, Leuven, Peeters, 2017 and his volume “Rome and the Seleukid East”, Brussels, Latomus, 2019, edited with Altay Coşkun). His main aim is to link the history of the Seleukid Empire to the broader trends in Near Eastern and Iranian History.