The ten essays published in this volume were written over the space of a decade, but they were conceived from the start as a coherent whole, presenting Peiresc's study of discrete languages and literatures of the Near East and North Africa. For Peiresc the student of the Classical past, this described the eastern and southern space in which the Greeks and Romans lived and strove. For Peiresc the Christian, this was the world of the Bible that impacted upon the Greeks and Romans. And for Peiresc of the Mediterranean (for he was born in Aix, spent much time in Marseille, and lived outside of the region for only 6 of his 57 years), this was the territory that his friends and colleagues sailed to, lived in and, usually, came back from. The convergence of these axes in the life of one man, and a man of singular intellectual power and charm whose vast personal paper arsenal had survived, makes this such a compelling project. The essays are arranged in a roughly chronological order. They follow the course of Peiresc's own projects from his early encounter with the ancient Near East in Greek and Roman literature, through his engagement with Arabic to his deepening kowledge of rabbinic texts to the wider world of the new oriental studies of the seventeenth century which he helped create: Samaritan, Coptic and Ethiopic.
Peter N. Miller is Dean and Professor of Cultural History, Bard Graduate Center, New York, USA.
Contents: Introduction: Peiresc and history; Comparison: The antiquary's art of comparison: Peiresc and Abraxas; Paganism: Taking Paganism seriously: anthropology and antiquarianism in early 17th-century histories of religion; Arabic: Peiresc and the study of Islamic coins in the early 17th century; Samaritan I: An antiquary between philology and history: Peiresc and the Samaritans; Samaritan II: A philologist, a traveller and an antiquary rediscover the Samaritans in 17th-century Paris, Rome and Aix: Jean Morin, Pietro della Valle and N.-C. Fabri de Peiresc; Hebrew: The mechanics of Christian-Jewish intellectual collaboration in 17th-century Provence: N.-C. Fabri de Peiresc and Saloman Azubi; Coptic: Copts and scholars: Athanasius Kircher in Peiresc's republic of letters; North Africa: Peiresc in Africa: arm-chair anthropology in the early 17th century; West Africa: History of religion becomes ethnology: some evidence from Peiresc's Africa; East Africa: Peiresc's Ethiopia: how? And why?; Conclusion: Oriental studies and orientalism; Index.