A Fashionable Curiosity: Claudius Ptolemy’s ‘Desire for Knowledge’ in Literary Context

  • Johannes WietzkeEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Trends in the History of Science book series (TRENDSHISTORYSCIENCE)


This article examines in detail the second-century CE polymath Claudius Ptolemy’s expression of the ‘desire for knowledge’, situating it against a wider backdrop of similar expressions in the Greek textual tradition. I argue that in his expression, Ptolemy creatively alludes to Plato’s Phaedrus, a practice that, surprisingly, here ties his work more closely to contemporary oratory and the ‘novel’ than to generic precursors in the exact sciences. The piece thus demonstrates how an author in the highly formalized genre of mathematics employs specific textual strategies held in common with his wider, contemporary literary culture.


Literary Practice Fourth Century Exact Science Literary Culture Harmonic Power 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Classical StudiesTrinity UniversitySan AntonioUSA

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