Lucius Annaeus Cornutus’ Ethnographic Investigations Into Mythology

Mikołaj Domaradzki

Strony: 25 - 39



The purpose of the present article is to show that the hermeneutical activity of Lucius Annaeus Cornutus is best characterized as “ethnographic” rather than merely “allegorical” or “etymological”. Without denying the presence of both these dimensions in the philosopher’s exegeses, the paper suggests that Cornutus’ analyses aimed first and foremost to excavate the ancient world picture that the philosopher believed to underlie the theology transmitted by Homer and Hesiod. Thus, the philosopher regarded conventional mythology and traditional religion as sources of information about the primeval accounts of the cosmos: his analyses of various etymologies discovered not merely the origin of the word in question but also the origin of the ancient cosmological conceptions. Consequently, interpreting myths was for Cornutus tantamount to gaining profound insights into the pristine theology that was skillfully developed by the wise men of antiquity and poorly transmitted by the poets. Cornutus’ hermeneutics built on the assumption that interpreting mythology provided the interpreter with a better understanding of not only the ancient world but also the present one.