Cosmos in the Ancient World

Phillip Sydney Horky (ed.), Cosmos in the Ancient World. Cambridge University Press, due 2018.

How did the ancient Greeks and Romans conceptualise order?  This book answers that question by analysing the formative concept of ‘kosmos’ (‘order’, ‘arrangement’, ‘ornament’) in ancient literature, philosophy, science, art and religion.  This concept encouraged the Greeks and Romans to develop theories to explain core aspects of human life, including nature, beauty, society, politics, the individual and what lies beyond human experience.  Hence, Greek ‘kosmos’, and its Latin correlate ‘mundus’, are subjects of profound reflection by a wide range of important ancient figures, including philosophers (Parmenides, Empedocles, the Pythagoreans, Democritus, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, Plotinus), poets and playwrights (Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plautus, Marcus Argentarius, Nonnus), intellectuals (Gorgias, Protagoras, Varro) and religious exegetes (Philo, the Gospel Writers, Paul).  By revealing ‘kosmos’ in its many ancient manifestations, this book asks us to rethink our own sense of ‘order’, and to reflect on our place within a broader cosmic history.