Space and Geography

Kai Brodersen

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Space and Geography

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By the time Cicero wrote about his writer's block on geography to his friend Atticus in 59 BCE, Rome had conquered a substantial part of the oikoumene, the ‘inhabited world’. Rome's success in opening up new space for Roman rule had engendered, in educated circles, a lively interest in conceptualising space, in geo-graphein – an interest shared by recent research that supports this article's attempt to explore the relationship between space and geography, and the relevance of this relationship for Roman Studies. While geo-graphia provided the educated with (too) difficult theories about ‘all’ the world, demonstrating how much more there is to the globe than the oikoumene, the modes of perceiving and presenting space in the more widespread and familiar periplus and itinerarium formats enabled not only a military, but also a mental conquest of space. However, they did not allow for a geo-graphia. It was only in the early modern Age of Discovery that both modes of conceptualisation of space were seen as a unity, and it was Pomponius Mela's work which mattered for that.

Keywords: Rome; space; geography; Cicero; Pomponius Mela; oikoumene; periplus; itinerarium; Roman Studies

Article.  5451 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History ; Greek and Roman Archaeology

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