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Cultural antitheses: Reflections of Herodotus 2.35–36

  • Stephanie West
Article

Abstract

By way of prologue to his account of Egyptian manners and customs Herodotus offers a striking catalogue of cultural antitheses (2.35f.) which (though somewhat inconsistent with his general presentation of Egypt) has enjoyed an interestingNachleben. This form of antithetical description presupposes recognition of a society basically commensurable with the writer’s own, where similar conventions and principles of organization can be discerned. Herodotus’ catalogue appears to have served as a model for a collection of 609 paired observations contrasting European and Japanese practices, compiled by the Jesuit Luis Fróis (1532–97) and published in 1955 by J.F. Schütte, S.J. The purpose of this not easily classifiable booklet is unclear, but emulation of Herodotus would provide an adequate motive for what might have started as ajeu d’esprit, and certain details strongly suggest a direct debt.

Keywords

Classical Tradition Loeb Classical Library Foreign Rule Japanese Custom Egyptian Manner 
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References

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    The Buddhist clergy in China provoked a similar reaction from Fróis' fellow Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), whose intolerance and dislike of the Buddhist monks are in sharp contrast to his normally sympathetic attitude towards the Chinese; see further David E. Mungello,Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology, Studia Leibnitiana Supplementa 25 (Stuttgart, 1985), 44, 69 f.Google Scholar
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© Springer 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie West
    • 1
  1. 1.Hertford CollegeOxfordUK

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