Ad fontes? Babylon of the Greeks (Chapter 4)

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Issue Date
2019
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Authors
Thelle, Rannfrid I.
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Citation

Thelle, R. (2019). Chapter 4 -- Ad fontes? Babylon of the Greeks. In: Discovering Babylon. London: Routledge, pp 40-59

Abstract

With the Renaissance discovery of the accounts of ancient authors such as Herodotus came descriptions of the physical landscape of ancient Mesopotamia. Ancient Greek texts expanded knowledge about Babylon, but time proved that they were not as reliable as was first thought. Tremendously popular, late medieval and early modern travel accounts portraying Babylon as a destroyed city that had been punished by God were influenced by notions shaped first and foremost by biblical texts. In art, theology, and literature, Babylon motifs form key interpretative metaphors. Babylon is the repressive empire: Bruegel’s famous tower images expressed a critique of the papacy. Babylon is the place of apocalypse: Romantic apocalyptic paintings became conflated with illustrations from the first excavations, so that art interpreted “reality”.

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