Book Series Philosophie hellénistique et romaine / Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy, vol. 16

Foreign Influences: The Circulation of Knowledge in Antiquity

Benoît Castelnérac, Luca Gili, Laetitia Monteils-Laeng (eds)

  • Pages: approx. 304 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:2 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59895-6
  • Paperback
  • Forthcoming (Apr/24)


The essays collected in this volume aims at exploring the hypothesis that the most adventurous intellectuals saw foreign lands and foreigners as repositories of knowledge.


Benoît Castelnérac is professor at Université de Sherbrooke, he has published articles on the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Galen.
Prof. Luca Gili is a specialist of Ancient and Medieval philosophy teaching at Université du Québec à Montréal.
Prof. Laetitia Monteils-Laeng teaches Ancient philosophy at Université de Montréal. She works mostly on Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, especially on ancient ethics, and more precisely on ancient ethics and bio-medical thought.


The essays collected in this volume focus on the Ancient Greeks’ perception of foreigners and of foreign lands as potential sources of knowledge. They aim at exploring the hypothesis that the most adventurous intellectuals saw foreign lands and foreigners as repositories of knowledge that the Greeks σοφοί had to engage with, in the hope of bringing back home valuables in the form of new ideas.

It is a common place to state that the “Greeks” displayed xenophobia, which is probably best exemplified in the binary and ethnocentric division of humanity in two groups: the Greek world (i.e., the hellenophones) and the others, the Barbarians – those who speak foreign languages. This attitude of insularism and defiance, however, did not hinder the curiosity of Greek and Roman societies towards strangers. Lycurgus, Pythagoras, Democritus, etc.: there is a long list of sages and philosophers who travelled around the world for a significant period of time. The Greeks had a rich and varied relationship with foreign lands and people, which made possible a real circulation of knowledge throughout the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic times; this is also true of the Roman Empire. Each of the articles included in this collective work explore one aspect of the “stranger” as a possible source of knowledge, with contributions mostly focused on Plato, Xenophon, Democritus, Aristotle, Diogenes, Cicero and Galen.


Foreword — Benoît Castelnérac and Laetitia Monteils-Laeng

Remarques sur les emplois stylistiques de ξένος, ξενικός et γλῶττα — André Rehbinder

Democritus, B 299 (D.K.). Alien Wisdom, Geometry, and the Contemporary Prose Landscape — Ilaria Andolfi

Étrangèreté du vrai et politique chez Platon — Étienne Helmer

Cephalus: A Role Model for the Producers in Plato’s Kallipolis — Anna Schriefl

Xenophobia in Utopia: On the Metics in Plato’s Laws — David Merry

Social Science and Universalism in Xenophon’s Oeconomicus IV — Zoli Filotas

Aristotle on the Intellectual Achievements of Foreign Civilizations — Mor Segev

Carthage: Aristotle’s Best (non-Greek) Constitution? — Thornton C. Lockwood, Jr.

Translatio, Imitatio, Aemulatio: Assimilation of Greek Thought in Cicero’s Philosophical Writings — Katarzyna Borkowska

Étrangers ou étranges ? La sagesse des confins et la connaissance du monde dans la littérature grecque des premiers siècles de l’empire — Marine Glénisson

Déterminisme environnemental et influence culturelle : la vision de l’étranger chez Galien — Julien Devinant

Le privilège philosophique de l’étranger — Isabelle Chouinard

Index of Passages

Index of Ancient Names and Places