| Faculty of Philosophy, Research

An Ancient Parody of Knowledge Literature

Where did the river Ganges get its name? The son of Indo, Ganges, had unknowingly slept with his mother; after the discovery, he threw himself into the river, which was then named after him. And the Euphrates? Euphrates had caught someone in his wife's bed and killed him; when he discovered that he had thus killed his own child, he threw himself into the river, which was then ... right! But also: on the Nile there is a stone that prevents dogs from barking, and in Scythia there is a plant that protects children from an evil stepmother.

These and many other fairy-tale myths and strange natural wonders, many of which are otherwise unattested, are collected in the ancient Greek work that has come down to us under the name of the learned Plutarchus of Chaironeia and is now made available for the first time in a German translation. But are his accounts historically credible? No, the work proves to be a parody of ancient knowledge literature on geography, natural history and, last but not least, mythology, both in content and style. Kai Brodersen, Professor of Ancient Culture at the University of Erfurt, has now translated the work into German for the first time and presents it in a bilingual edition.

Kai Brodersen
Plutarch, De fluviis / Über die Benennung von Flüssen und Bergen.
bilingual edition
Speyer: KDV 2022
ISBN 78-3-939526-50-6
96 pages