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Known Knowns and Known Unknowns: Epiphanius of Salamis and the Limits of Heresiology*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 January 2016

Todd S. Berzon*
Bowdoin College


In this essay, I explore the conceptual and discursive ruminations of Epiphanius of Salamis as he struggles in his Panarion to survey and manage the ever-expanding heretical world. Instead of reading this heresiological treatise as an attestation of theological, ecclesiastical, and intellectual authority established through totalizing discourse, I approach it as an expression of ancient ethnographic writing and the ethnographic disposition, an authorial orientation toward the world that describes, regulates, and classifies peoples with both macroscopic and microscopic knowledge. Ethnography in the ancient world was a process of writing the world's people into texts, describing and classifying specific cultures and customs through the lens of the ethnographer's own culturally situated perspective. Frequently, the ethnographer used his text to elaborate his assumptions about the origins of human diversity. Customs and habits were explained as the products of larger macroscopic forces such as astrology, genealogy, climatology, universal history, and myth. In the process of translating the world into texts, ethnographic inquiry forced authors to confront their capacity to comprehend the world around them and ultimately to come to terms with the full scope of human diversity. I argue that reading the Panarion as a manifestation of Christian ethnography usefully foregrounds an intractable tension between knowledge (known knowns) and self-conscious ignorance (known unknowns) about the depths of human heterogeneity: ethnography is as much an illustration of incomprehension as it is a repository of erudition, mastery, and discovery.

Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 2016 

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I wish to thank Elizabeth Castelli and Seth Schwartz for their help with many of the ideas in this essay. They, along with the anonymous reviewer, forced me to clarify my argument and better organize my thoughts. Special thanks also to Liane Carlson who commented incisively on an earlier draft. And finally my sincerest thanks to Abby Kluchin for providing invaluable feedback not only on several facets of my argument but also on my prose.


1 On the discourse of heresy and heresiology, see Le Boulluec, Alain, La notion d'hérésie dans la littérature grecque IIe–IIIe siècles (2 vols.; Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1985)Google Scholar; Cameron, Averil, “How to Read Heresiology,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 33 (2003) 471492CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Royalty, Robert M. Jr., The Origin of Heresy: A History of Discourse in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity (New York: Routledge, 2013)Google Scholar; Boyarin, Daniel, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Brakke, David, The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010)Google Scholar; Invention, Rewriting, Usurpation: Discursive Fights over Religious Traditions in Antiquity (ed. Jörg Ulrich, Anders-Christian Jacobsen, and David Brakke; Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2011) esp. 191–261; and Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity (ed. Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008).

2 Ancient ethnography is neither the study of ethnicity nor an effort to parse its criteria: it is the study of the ways in which population groups of religious, political, military, and ethnic orientation were written and categorized as cultural entities. By microscopic ethnography, I mean the details of human customs, habits, and appearance (e.g., diet, dress, ritual, phenotype). By macroscopic ethnography, I mean theories or paradigms used to explain the genesis and conditions of human difference (e.g., geographical and climatological determinism, genealogy, typology, astrological determinism, dietary determinism). For the best description of ancient paradigms of ethnography, see Woolf, Greg, Tales of the Barbarians: Ethnography and Empire in the Roman West (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 3258CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The ethnography of habit—microscopic ethnography—typifies most Greco-Roman ventures to describe peoples, as Arnaldo Momigliano demonstrated in his Alien Wisdom: The Limits of Hellenization (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Ethnography was, by and large, a decidedly non-empirical enterprise: it was often haphazardly arranged and “compiled” from sources rather than observation. The lack of systematicity, however, did not preclude authors from trying to deduce the causal conditions of ethnographic differences among peoples.

3 See, for example, Woolf, Tales of the Barbarians; Skinner, Joseph E., The Invention of Greek Ethnography: From Homer to Herodotus (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Romm, James S., The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought: Geography, Exploration, and Fiction (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Jacob, Christian, Géographie et ethnographie en Grèce ancienne (Paris: Armand Colin, 1991)Google Scholar; Thomas, Rosalind, Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science, and the Art of Persuasion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000)Google Scholar; Dougherty, Carol, The Raft of Odysseus: The Ethnographic Imagination of Homer's Odyssey (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)Google Scholar; and Dench, Emma, Romulus’ Asylum: Roman Identities from the Age of Alexander to the Age of Hadrian (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) 3792CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Kim, Young, “Epiphanius of Cyprus and the Geography of Heresy,” in Violence in Late Antiquity (ed. Drake, H. A.; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006) 235252Google Scholar, studies the geographical distribution of the heresies of the Panarion. Like most of the scholarship on the geography of heresy, he takes a literal view of the matter (i.e., locating each of the heresies within a fixed geographical location).

5 See Eshelman, Kendra, “Becoming Heretical: Affection and Ideology in Recruitment to Early Christianities,” HTR 104 (2011) 191216CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6 See Schott, Jeremy, “Heresiology as Universal History in Epiphanius's Panarion.” ZAC 10 (2006) 546563CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also my, “Heresiology as Ethnography: Theorising Christian Difference,” in Religious Competition in the Third Century C.E.: Jews, Christians, and the Greco-Roman Worlds (ed. Nathaniel P. DesRosiers, Jordan D. Rosenblum, and Lily C. Vuong; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2014) 180–192.

7 The very same concern attends literature about Rome's rise and geographical and cultural expansion; the issues of containment and mapping are problematic elements of the ideology of triumph. On this last point see the excellent study by Nicolet, Claude, Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (trans. Leclerc, Hélène; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1989)Google Scholar; Veyne, Paul, “Humanitas: Romans and Non-Romans,” in The Romans (ed. Giardina, Andrea; trans. Cochrane, Lydia G.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993) 342369Google Scholar; and Dench, Romulus’ Asylum, 55–61.

8 Nicolet, Space, Geography, and Politics, 1–84.

9 See Isaac, Benjamin, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), esp. 1168Google Scholar; and Rawson, Elizabeth, “Geography and Ethnography,” in her Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic (London: Duckworth, 1985) 250266Google Scholar.

10 Nicolet, Space, Geography, and Politics, 3. See also, Nightingale, Andrea, “On Wandering and Wondering: ‘Theoria’ in Greek Philosophy and Culture,” Arion 9 (2001) 2358Google Scholar.

11 On travel in antiquity, see Roller, Duane W., Through the Pillars of Herakles: Greco-Roman Exploration of the Atlantic (New York: Routledge, 2006)Google Scholar; Handley, Mark, Dying on Foreign Shores: Travel and Mobility in the Late-Antique West (JRA Supplementary Series 86; Portsmouth, RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2011)Google Scholar; Casson, Lionel, Travel in the Ancient World (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994)Google Scholar; Pretzler, Maria, “Turning Travel into Text: Pausanias at Work,” Greece & Rome 51 (2004) 199216CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Travel and Geography in the Roman Empire (ed. Colin Adams and Ray Laurence; New York: Routledge, 2001); Travel and Religion in Antiquity (ed. Philip A. Harland; Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011); and Catherine Hezser, Jewish Travel in Antiquity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011). On late antique travel, see Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald, “Travel, Cartography, and Cosmology,” in The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (ed. Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) 562594CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Communication, and Geography in Late Antiquity: Sacred and Profane (ed. Linda Ellis and Frank L. Kidner; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004); and Constable, Olivia Remie, Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World: Lodging, Trade, and Travel in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003)Google Scholar.

12 On Mela's text as a type of periplus or periplous, see Batty, Roger, “Mela's Phoenician Geography,” JRomS 90 (2000) 70–94, esp. 87–89Google Scholar. The periplus narrative, “a sailing around,” was a rather technical genre in which territories and waterways, usually in a particular region, were mapped and described in literary form. Roller notes that the periplous was “primarily for the assistance of sailors, but as it tended to include topographical features and characteristics of the local inhabitants, the periplous soon took on geographical, commercial, and ethnographic overtones” (Through the Pillars of Herakles, 8). Notable examples include the anonymous Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Arrian of Nicomedia's Periplous of the Euxine Sea, and Pseudo-Skylax's Periplous.

13 Romer, F. E.’s Pomponius Mela's Description of the World (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001) 12Google Scholar. For more on Pomponius Mela, see Romer's “Introduction,” 1–32; Pomponius Mela. Chorographie (ed. Alain Silberman; Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1998) vii–liv; Kai Brodersen, Pomponius Mela. Kreuzfahrt durch die alte Welt (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1994); and Batty, “Mela's Phoenician Geography,” 70–72.

14 The point of this comparison will become clear as the essay unfolds. For now, I should simply note I am interested in the ways in which Epiphanius contemplates well-attested ethnographic problems from his own decidedly Christian perspective. Mela's text is but one comparative source in the larger project of deducing the character of Christian ethnography.

15 Mela, De Chorographia 1.1. “Orbis situm dicere aggredior, impeditum opus et facundiae minime capax–constat enim fere gentium locorumque nominibus et eorum perplexo satis ordine, quem persequi longa est magis quam benigna materia–verum aspici tamen cognoscique dignissimum, et quod, si non ope ingenii orantis, at ipsa sui contemplatione pretium operae attendentium absoluat.” I have followed the Latin of Silberman's edition and the translation of Romer, Pomponius Mela's Description of the World.

16 On the anthropologist “out there” in the field, see Geertz, Clifford, Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988) 124Google Scholar, and Van Maanen, John, Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography (2nd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Mela, Chor. 1.24. Translation modified. The rhetoric of global domination by way of study has been carefully mapped by Schlachter, Alois and Gisinger, Friedrich, Der Globus, seine Entstehung und Verwendung in der Antike (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1927)Google Scholar; Alföldi, Andreas, Die monarchische Repräsentation im romischen Kaiserreiche (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchges, 1970)Google Scholar; Arnaud, Pascal, “L'image du globe dans le monde romain: Science, Iconographie, Symbolique,” Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome 96 (1984) 53116CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Carey, Sorcha, Pliny's Catalogue of Culture: Art and Empire in the Natural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) 3639Google Scholar.

18 Ptolemy, Geographia 1.1.17–19 from Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia (ed. C. F. A. Nobbe Leipzig: Caroli Tauchnitii, 1843–1854; repr., Hildesheim, DE: G. Olms, 1966). “World cartography (γεωγραϕία) is an imitation through drawing of the entire known part of the world together with things that are, broadly speaking, connected with it” (Geog. 1.1.1). Translation by Berggren, J. Lennart and Jones, Alexander, Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) 57Google Scholar.

19 Ptolemy, Geogr. 1.1.5–11.

20 Mela, Chor. 3.51.

21 Ibid., 3.51. See the complementary description of the Britons in Tacitus's Agricola 21. For Roman techniques of ethnographic translation (in the context of the Britons in particular) see Dench, Romulus’ Asylum, 82–87 and Clarke, Katherine, “An Island Nation: Re-Reading Tacitus’ Agricola,” JRomS 91 (2001) 94102Google Scholar.

22 Ibid., 3.52.

23 See, James, S. T., “‘Romanization’ and the Peoples of Britain,” in Italy and the West: Comparative Issues in Romanization, (ed. Keay, Simon and Terrenato, Nicola; Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2001) 187209Google Scholar.

24 Mela, Chor. 3.49.

25 The fact that the Britons had been brought into the known realm—that is, fully exposed as a people—tightened the pronouncement of the historian Polybius, who had written his Histories to demonstrate the means by which Rome had succeeded “in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government—a thing unique in history (1.1.5). The same ideology begins the Res Gestae Divi Augusti and informs Pliny's Natural History. Pliny, for instance, lists a series of towns—previously unknown—that were destroyed by Aelius Gallus. As Trevor Murphy explains in Pliny The Elder's Natural History: The Empire in the Encyclopedia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004): “In case of these towns [Negrana, Nestus, Nesca, Magusus, Caminacus, Labaetia, Bariba, and Caripeta], we learn of their presence in the world only after the Natural History tells us they no longer exist—their destruction is the necessary precondition of our being informed. That such complete information should be available to the Natural History is a consequence of the spread of Roman authority, which has opened up the orbis terrarum to expeditions such as that of Aelius Gallus” (130). Batty, “Mela's Phoenician Geography,” argues that Mela's text, unlike Pliny's Natural History, is not a work of distinctly Roman geography or ethnography. Batty suggests that the absence of a full-fledged Roman perspective (wherein Rome is the unequivocal center of the world) derives from the fact that Mela “lived in a community whose origins were Phoenician and whose location was in Spain” (79).

26 See Alston, Richard, “Conquest by Text: Juvenal and Plutarch on Egypt,” in Roman Imperialism: Post-Colonial Perspectives (ed. Webster, Jane and Cooper, Nicolas; Leicester: University of Leicester Press, 1996) 99109Google Scholar; Edwards, Catherine, “Incorporating the Alien: The Art of Conquest,” in Rome the Cosmopolis (ed. Edwards, Catherine and Woolf, Greg; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 4762Google Scholar; and Whittaker, C. R., Rome and Its Frontiers: The Dynamics of Empire (New York: Routledge, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 I would argue this is the essential takeaway of Cameron, Averil’s Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994) 1546Google Scholar, at 21. On this process, see also Inglebert, Hervé, Interpretatio Christiana: Les mutations des savoirs (cosmographie, géographie, ethnographie, histoire) dans l'Antiquité chrétienne (Paris: Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 2001)Google Scholar.

28 Schott, Jeremy, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) 166Google Scholar.

29 See Schott's first chapter, “Philosophers, Apologists, and Empire,” 15–51.

30 Ibid., 16–28. On universal history and cultural formations, see Droge, Arthur J., Homer or Moses? Early Christian Interpretations of the History of Culture (Tübingen: Mohr, 1989)Google Scholar; Mortley, Raoul, The Idea of Universal History from Hellenistic Philosophy to Early Christian Historiography (Lewiston, NY.: Edwin Mellen, 1996)Google Scholar; Richter, Daniel S., Cosmopolis: Imagining Community in Late Classical Athens and the Early Roman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Ameling, Walter, “Ethnography and Universal History in Agatharchides,” in East & West: Papers in Ancient History Presented to Glen W. Bowersock (ed. Brennan, T. Corey and Flowers, Harriet I.; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009) 1359Google Scholar.

31 Woolf, Tales of the Barbarians, 38–44.

32 Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion, 166.

33 Nasrallah, Laura, “Mapping the World: Justin, Tatian, Lucian, and the Second Sophistic,” HTR 98 (2005) 283314CrossRefGoogle Scholar argues that scholars have unfairly balkanized the apologists. Apologetic, she argues, is engaged in broader cultural conversations about geography, paideia, hegemony, barbarian wisdom, and more. To that end, Nasrallah persuasively demonstrates that the writings of the apologists (and the satirist Lucian) “complicate the model of center and periphery that is so often used to talk about the Roman Empire” (314). Not only are there multiple metropolitan centers—Rome, Athens, Jerusalem—but the figure of the traveler himself, as Vitruvius noted in his De architectura, is a universal citizen of the world. The world, then, can be mapped with respect to both peoples and places.

34 Schott, Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion, 32.

35 Ibid., 169.

36 See Nasrallah, “Mapping the World,” esp. 299–314.

37 On collection and the hybridization of knowledge, see the very useful discussion of Jacobs, Andrew S., “Epiphanius of Salamis and the Antiquarian's Bible,” JECS 21 (2013) 437464Google Scholar.

38 Epiphanius, De Fide 1.1–3 from Epiphanius (ed. Karl Holl and Jürgen Dummer; GCS 37; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1985). Translations by Williams, Frank, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis (2 vols.; Nag Hammadi & Manichaean Studies; Leiden: Brill, 2009, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Τὰ μὲν πολυειδ καὶ πολύτροπα καὶ πολυσχιδ τν σκολιν βουλευμάτων τν ἐναντίων διαλαβόντες προπετ διδάγματα καὶ πρὸς εδος καὶ γένος διελόντες ϕροδα καὶ ἕωλα δυνάμει θεο διηλέγξαμεν, τόν τε ἄπειρον τν ἀπὸ ἑκάστης αἱρέσεως βλασϕημιν καὶ αἰσχρολογιν καὶ ἀηδεστάτων αὐτν μυστηρίων κλύδωνα διανηξάμενοι, μάλα μόλις τν ζητημάτων πάντη ἐπιλυσάμενοι καὶ τὴν τούτων μοχθηρίαν ὑπερβεβηκότες, τος τς ἀληθείας γαληνίοις ἐπλησιάσαμεν χωρίοις, πάντα μὲν τόπον δυσθαλάττ<ι>ον διαπεράσαντες καὶ πσαν ζάλην καὶ ἀϕρισμὸν καὶ κυμάτων κύρτωσιν ὑπομεμενηκότες, σάλον δὲ ὡς εἰπεν καὶ ἴλιγγας, βράχη τε οὐ τὰ τυχόντα καὶ θηριοβόλους τόπους θεασάμενοι, ἐν πείρᾳ τε τούτων διὰ τν λόγων γεγενημένοι, τὸν τς εἰρήνης λιμένα νυνὶ θεώμενοι, εἰς ὅν κατραι σπεύδοντες δι᾽εὐχς πάλιν τὸν κύριον ἀξιομεν. On the relationship between ethnography and science in the ancient world, see Rosalind Thomas's Herodotus in Context, wherein she demonstrates ethnography's cooption of scientific rhetoric and logic, and William H. Stahl, Roman Science: Origins, Development and Influence to the Later Middle Ages (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1962). It is altogether fitting, then, that Epiphanius chose medical, herpetological, and entomological language as his own ethnographic vernacular. On this point, see Lyman, J. Rebecca, “Epiphanius on Orthodoxy,” in Orthodoxy, Christianity, History (ed. Elm, Susanna, Rebillard, Éric, and Romano, Antonella; Rome: École Française de Rome, 2000) 149161Google Scholar.

39 Epiphanius, De Fide 1.5, 1.4.

40 Ibid., 1.6; 2.2.

41 Ibid., 2.9.

42 Clifford, James, “Notes on Travel and Theory,” Inscriptions 5 (1989) 177Google Scholar. On the philosophical, ritualistic, and epistemological evolutions of theoria, see the Nightingale, Andrea Wilson, Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural Context (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Theoria, Nightingale explains, began as a journey (undertaken by the theoros) to witness spectacles, momentous events, and sacred objects. The journey or theoria, which incorporated the totality of the experience from the journey away, the sacred viewing, and return home, emphasized the effects of seeing ritual and sacredness. During the classical era, philosophical inquiry, led by Plato, began to model itself in the image of the theoria: the philosophers engaged in activity that enabled them to journey into the universe, the gods, and world around them and see truths. For my purposes, Nightingale's most useful analysis (63–68) falls in what she calls the domain of “theoria as cultural practice,” specifically a “journey to foreign lands to see the world” (40, 63).

43 Rutherford, Ian, “Tourism and the Sacred: Pausanias and the Traditions of Greek Pilgrimage,” in Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece (ed. Alcock, Susan E., Cherry, John F., and Elsner, Jaś; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) 4060Google Scholar, at 43. See also, the idea of theoria as philosophical contemplation at 47–49. Cf. Rutherford, see Scullion, Scott, “‘Pilgrimage’ and Greek Religion: Sacred and Secular in the Pagan Polis,” in Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman & Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods (ed. Elsner, Jaś and Rutherford, Ian; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) 111–30Google Scholar, esp. 123–27.

44 For Epiphanius's emphasis on mastery and totality, see Pan. 8.7.4; 25.14.4–5; 25.17.1–3; 32.3.1; 33.8.11; 48.15.1; 52.1.6; 60.2.1; 66.2.1–2; 69.42.1; 70.15.6; 77.19.6; De Fide 12.5.

45 On contemporary ethnography and the tension between objective and subjective analysis, see Geertz, Works and Lives; Bronislaw Malinowski, A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989); Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); Rabinow, Paul, Reflections on Fieldwork (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977)Google Scholar; Dwyer, Kevin, Moroccan Dialogues: Anthropology in Question (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982)Google Scholar; Dumont, J.-P., The Headman and I: Ambiguity and Ambivalence in the Fieldworking Experience (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978)Google Scholar; and Engelke, Matthew, A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scriptures in an African Church (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)Google Scholar.

46 This motif of textual fracture within Mela's Chorography is expertly traced by Evans, Rhiannon, “Ethnography's Freak Show: The Grotesques at the Edges of the Roman Earth,” Ramus 28 (1999) 5473CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

47 Mela, Chor. 1.21.

48 Ibid., 1.33, 1.23.

49 Ibid., 1.42.

50 Ibid., 1.43.

51 Ibid., 1.44.

52 Ibid., 1.48. Lucian, in his parodic True Story, mercilessly mocks the ethnographic fixations and deceptions of various ancient writers. He insists that ethnography (writing about foreign peoples and places, in his formulation) is a repository of falsity, fantasy, and deception and concocts his own fantastical and fictitious journey to evidence his point. He writes of a journey to the moon (and a great battle between the Moonites and Sunites), a foray inside the stomach of a whale, a short stay at an island made of cheese, and an extended respite on the isle of the blest. He recounts his encounters with innumerable fantastical creatures and peoples, dwelling on the customs and habits of the Moonites at considerable length (1.22–26). In this light, Epiphanius's description of the Gnostics, which emphasizes their promiscuity (26.3.3), handling and eating of human flesh (26.3.3), ritual offering of semen (26.4.3–7), consumption of menstrual blood (Pan. 26.4.8–5.1), and pulverization and ingestion of human fetuses (26.5.4–6), takes on a distinctly ethnographic hue.

53 Evans, “Ethnography's Freak Show,” 60.

54 For Roman attitudes toward the monstrous and grotesque, see Barton, Carlin A., The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: The Gladiator and the Monster (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993)Google Scholar. Barton's analysis draws from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, psychoanalysis, art history, literary criticism, and queer studies. Two of the more useful theoretical reflections on the grotesque come from Bakhtin, Mikhail, Rabelais and His World (trans. Iswolsky, Helene; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968)Google Scholar and Harpham, Geoffrey Galt, On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980)Google Scholar.

55 Mela, Chor. 3.89.

56 Strabo, Geogr. 17.3.23 (ed. and trans. Horace Leonard Jones; LCL 267; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932). I have modified the spellings of the place names.

57 Pliny, Nat. 6.35.195 (ed. and trans. H. Rackham; LCL 352; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1942).

58 On geographic interpretation, see Clarke, Katherine, Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)Google Scholar. On classification in antiquity, see also Carey, Pliny's Catalogue of Culture 17–40 and 75–101; and Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald, The Life and Miracles of Thekla: A Literary Study (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006) 171220Google Scholar. Johnson's analysis in Chapter Four pertains to paradoxography or literary collections and miscellanies. He discusses the work of Callimachus of Cyrene (Collection of Wonders from the Whole Earth Arranged by Locality) and Antigonus (Collection of Marvelous Researches), and traces the genre's various preoccupations and emphases (as guided tours through the wonders of the world). He also demonstrates that the influence of paradoxography on later literary collections can be seen in the works of Pliny the Elder, Aulus Gellius, Athenaeus, and various Christian writers, including Clement, Origen, Jerome, and Eusebius. For the history of collection, see the excellent study of Blair, Ann, Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011)Google Scholar.

59 Mela, Chor. 1.4. “eodemque in duo latera, quae hemisphaerin nominant, ab oriente divisa ad occasum, zonis quinque distinguitur. Mediam aestus infestat, frigus ultimas; reliquae habitabiles paria agunt anni tempora, verum non pariter. Antichthones alteram, nos alteram incolimus. Illius situs ob ardorem intercedentis plagae incognitus, huius dicendus est.”

60 Evans, “Ethnography's Freak Show,” 68.

61 For a history of the term in ancient literature (and beyond), see Moretti, Gabriella, “The Other World and the ‘Antipodes’: The Myth of the Unknown Countries between Antiquity and the Renaissance,” in The Classical Tradition and the Americas (ed. Haase, Wolfgang and Reinhold, Meyer; New York: de Gruyter, 1993) 241–84Google Scholar, esp. 242–57. Plato used the term “Antipodes” in Timaeus to “specify the inhabitants of the zone opposite our own; ancient sources identify him as the real originator of this term” (243). The project was part of the larger consequence of the doctrine of the earth's roundness, from which ancient authors divided the world into various climatic zones.

62 See also Pliny, Nat. 5.9.51: “The sources from which the Nile rises have not been ascertained, proceeding as it does through scorching deserts for an enormously long distance and only having been explored by unarmed investigators, without the wars that have discovered all other countries.” While the sources of the Nile elude Pliny's comprehension, he not only fails to resort to Mela's enigmatic counterworld in order to propose an explanation, he links conquest to discovery. Indeed, it is conquest that makes all the other countries known! The puzzlement produced by the causes and effects of the Nile extend back into the text of Herodotus, who observed at Book II.28 and II.34 that the river's sources were altogether mysterious.

63 Mela, Chor. 3.70.

64 Much of the work on Mela has focused on his failures, omissions, and devotion to the oddities of the world. The appraisals are not altogether kind. See Wissowa, Georg, “Die Abfassungszeit der Chorographia des Pomponius Mela,” Hermes 51 (1916) 8996Google Scholar; Goodyear, F.R.D., “Technical Writing,” in the Cambridge History of Classical Literature II (ed. Kenney, E.J. and Clausen, W.V.; 2 vols.; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982) 2:667–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Romm, The Edges of the Earth, 150.

65 Evans, “Ethnography's Freak Show,” 69.

66 See also Carey, Sorcha, “The Problem of Totality,” Journal of the History of Collections 12 (2000) 113CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Much like the heresiologists who “feared” the effects of exhaustive exposure of the heretics, Pliny, too, as a compiler and cataloguer of the natural world, fears the results of plenary inclusion. Pliny's timidity stems from the fact that encyclopedic narratives necessarily include both the best and worst of the world. For Pliny, the requirement to include knowledge of luxuria, the great “perversion of reason (ratio) and Nature,” disrupts his stabilized taxonomy of civilization (Carey, Pliny's Catalogue of Culture, 76). “The problem of totality,” is that it is both a manifestly fraudulent aspiration and deeply destructive one. These two poles of classification are conceptually interdependent facets of ethnographic discourse.

67 Epiphanius, De Fide 6.1–13.7. The majority of De Fide, in fact, is devoted to enumerating the additional sects of the world. As I will discuss below, Epiphanius himself is acutely aware of the problem the scriptural dictum of Song 6:8 has created. He puts his best rhetorical spin on the conceptual problem—one which Pliny also contemplated, without, of course, the force of scripture—but the effect remains in place: the world of heresy is incalculable.

68 Ibid., 3.2–5. ἑξήκοντά εἰσι βασίλισσαι, καὶ ὀγδοήκοντα παλλακαὶ, καὶ νεάνιδες ν οὐκ ἔστιν ἀριθμός· μία ἐστὶ περιστερά μου, τελεία μου, μετὰ προσθήκης το μου καὶ μου. αὐτο γὰρ “περιστερὰ” καὶ αὐτο τελεία, ὡς τν ἄλλων λεγομένων καὶ μὴ οὐσν, αὐτς δὲ διττς ὀνομαζομένης. ἐπὶ γὰρ τας ἄλλαις οὐκ επεν, ὀγδοήκοντά εἰσι παλλακαί μου, ἀλλὰ τας μὲν βασιλίσσαις διὰ τς ἐνδόξου ὀνομασίας τὴν συνάϕειαν τς τιμς ἀπένειμεν, ἐπὶ δὲ τας παλλακας τὸ ἀλλότριον τέλεον ἀπεϕήνατο. ν τοὺς ἀριθμοὺς εἰς νον λαμβάνοντες κατὰ τὴν ἀναγωγὴν τς θεωρίας ἐπεργάσασθαι ἐν τ τόπῳ ἀναγκαζόμεθα διὰ τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν, οὐ ψυχρολογοντες, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ λόγους διὰ τν ἀληθινν γραϕν τας ἀληθινας θεωρίαις ἀντεξετάζοντες. ὅτι μὲν γὰρ καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς γεγραμμένος ἀπαράβατός ἐστιν ἑκάστης ὑποθέσεως καὶ οὔτε δύναται τὸ ἐν ἀριθμ κατατεταγμένον ἕωλόν τι εναι οὔτε εἰς ἀργότητα ἐν τ γραϕ ἐπιμετρεσθαι [δλον]. Not only are the numbers of scripture unerring, precision provides a means by which his inquiry can be foreclosed. What is essential is that Epiphanius eschews any opinion that holds scripture's enumerations to be without value and utility. Scriptural numbers reflect an unerring specificity of purpose, which cannot be dismissed or tampered with: the number eighty is fixed.

69 The works of Augustine, Epiphanius, Philaster, and Theodoret clearly evidence this shift toward enumerated heresiology. On the evolution of heresiology, see Shaw, Brent, “Who were the Circumcellions,” in Vandals, Romans and Berbers (ed. Merrills, A.H.; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004) 227–58Google Scholar; and Pourkier, Aline, L'hérésiologie chez Épiphane de Salamie (Paris: Beauchesne, 1992) 1975Google Scholar.

70 Epiphanius, De Fide 9.2.

71 Ibid., 9.1.

72 Thales of Miletus, Anaximander of Miletus, Anaximenes of Miletus, Anaxagoras of Clazomene, Archelaus the naturalist, Socrates the ethicist, Pherecydes, Pythagoras of Samos, Xenophanes of Colophon, Parmenides the Elean, Zeno of Elea, Melissus the Samian, Leucippus the Milesian, Democritus of Abdera, Metrodorus of Chios, Protagoras of Abdera, Diogenes of Smyrna, Pyrrho of Elis, Empedocles of Agrigentum, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Prodicus, Plato the Athenian, Aristippus of Cyrene, Theodoras, Hegesias of Cyrene, Antisthenes the Athenian, Diogenes the Cynic, Crates of Thebes in Boeotia, Arcesilaus, Carneades, Aristotle the Macedonian, Theophrastus of Ephesus, Strato of Lampsacus, Praxiphanes of Rhodes, Critolaus of Phasela, Zeno of Citieum, Cleanthes, Persaeus, Chrysippus of Soli, Diogenes of Babylon, Panaetius of Rhodes, Posidonius of Apamaea, Athenodorus of Tarsus, and Epicurus of Athens.

73 Epiphanius, De Fide 10.2.

74 Ibid., 10.3.

75 Ibid., 11.2. Embracing his role as armchair ethnographer, Epiphanius flaunts a few of the odder, more wondrous, customs he knows. He reports, for instance, that “Chinese men stay at home and weave, and anoint themselves and do womanly things in readiness for their wives,” while “the women cut their hair short, wear men's underclothing, and do all the field labor” (De Fide 10.4). Like the Amazons of Herodotus's Histories, the Chinese women of De Fide symbolize cultural difference by way of normative inversion. See Hartog, Francois, The Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History (trans. Lloyd, Janet; Berkeley: University of California Press) 212–24Google Scholar.

76 On omission in Epiphanius, see Pan.8.7.4 (εἰς τὸ μὴ τὸ πν αὐτν παρασιωπσαι); 26.9.1; 27.4.5; 32.3.1.

77 Epiphanius, De Fide 11.1.

78 Ibid., 12.5.

79 The Jews represent a similar problem insofar as they have spread themselves out across the Empire, but there was no sense that the Jews were reproducing sectarian parties at a profoundly disturbing rate. A relevant parallel can be found in Bloch, René S., “Geography without Territory: Tacitus’ Digression on the Jews and Its Ethnographic Context,” in Internationales Josephus-Kolloquium Aarhus 1999 (ed. Kalms, Jürgen U.; Münster: Lit, 2000) 3854Google Scholar; and Evans, Rhiannon, “Geography without People: Mapping in Pliny's Historia Naturalis Books 3–6,” Ramus 34 (2005) 4774CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

80 The rhetorical universalism of heresiology, epitomized in the famous remark from Chapter 10, Book I of Irenaeus's Adversus haereses, depicted a world without theological borders or difference. Even if Christians throughout the world spoke in different tongues, Irenaeus insists that they were united in the language of Christian truth. Similarly, in proem II of the Panarion, Epiphanius presents Christianity as an effort to reclaim humanity's largely dormant Adamic past. As an experiential and theological template for the present, the past contextualizes and explains the underlying situation of the contemporary catholic church; the church's contests with her sectarian opponents (i.e., Christian heretics) belong to Epiphanius's decidedly Christian narrative of religious history, which he articulates as the uninterrupted history of heresy. See also De Fide 2.6, 3.1, 6.1, 6.6, 6.8, 14.1–4, 21.1, 24.3, 25.1–2.

81 Dench, Romulus’ Asylum, 50–52.

82 Epiphanius, De Fide 9.2.

83 Flower, Richard, “Genealogies of Unbelief: Epiphanius of Salamis and Heresiological Authority” in Unclassical Traditions. Volume II: Perspectives from East and West in Late Antiquity (ed. Kelly, Christopher, Flower, Richard and Williams, Michael Stuart; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011) 7087Google Scholar, categorizes heresiology in the tradition of encyclopedism. I am less sanguine than Flower about reading the Panarion as a text built on and performing authority. As I have tried to argue throughout this essay, Epiphanius's ethnographic authority is far less tenuous than it seems. This is not a text of domination and control, but a text of limits and epistemological negotiation.

84 Epiphanius, De Fide 9.2.

85 Ibid., 6.4–6. παλλακίδες γον αἱ καθεξς ἀριθμηθεσαι αἱρέσεις, ὡς ἄνω ἔϕην, ὀγδοήκοντα. μὴ θαυμαζέτω δέ τις εἰ καὶ ἄλλοις ὀνόμασιν ἑκάστη τούτων κικλήσκεται ἐν ἑκάστῃ χώρᾳ. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκενο παρατηρητέον, ὅτι πολλάκις καθ’ ἑαυτὴν πάλιν ἑκάστη αἵρεσις σχίσασα εἰς πολλὰ μέρη καὶ ὀνόματα διέστη· οὐ γάρ ἐστι θαμα· ἔστι γὰρ καὶ οὕτως. ὀγδοήκοντα δὲ καὶ ἕνα ἀριθμὸν εὑρίσκομεν, ἕνα μὲν διὰ τὴν μίαν τν πασν διωρισμένην, μόνην δὲ τ νυμϕίῳ κεκληρωμένην, διὰ τὴν μίαν τν πασν διωρισμένην, μόνην δὲ τ νυμϕίῳ κεκληρωμένην, ὑπ’ αὐτο δὲ ὁμολογουμένην τ τοιδε ὀνομασίᾳ, ὅτι μία ἐστὶ περιστερά μου, καὶ πάλιν τελεία μου, ὡς τν πασν παλλακίδων ἀγενν οὐσν καὶ οὐκ ἐν ἀκακίᾳ ἐπιμετρουμένων, οὐδὲ ἐν ἁγνείᾳ καὶ ἡμερότητι.

86 Barton, The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans, discusses the destructive power of that which simultaneously allures and repels: the dangers of fascination. In orienting her remarks around the spectacle of the monstrous, Barton emphasizes the fundamental disjuncture between fascination and regulation: “It was a great temptation to be fascinated. It was hard to resist, impossible to defeat, because it was born of longing and frustration and loss. The unsightly, the unspeakable—the obscaenus, deformis, the turpis, teater, foedus, immundus—were things which confounded one. They should be hidden; their sightings should be expiated. At the same time they were monstra . . . things which spoke a mysterious language calling for decipherment” (101).

87 See Epiphanius's remarks at Pan. 27.4.5–5.1, which nicely illustrate the rhetorical bind and disruptive force of monstrosity: there is much to fear in delving too deeply and knowing too much.

88 Ibid., 26.17.2–3. Translation slightly modified. On the sources of the Panarion, see R.A. Lipsius, Zur Quellengeschichte des Epiphanios (Vienna, 1865) and Pourkier, L'hérésiologie chez Épiphane, 53–75 and 91–94.

89 Epiphanius, De Fide 12.1–2.

90 See Epiphanius, Pan. 80.3–4, where Epiphanius laments his human efforts to refute the heretics. Though the divine will infuses his quest against heresy, he lacks sufficient knowledge of the heretics because he is not divine. Knowledge of and in the world stands apart from the “knowledge” of the divine, insofar as the former is subject to human comprehension, discovery, and theorization, while the latter is not. This is especially clear in Augustine's understudied De Haeresibus where the bishop—in answering an appeal from Quodvultdeus, a Carthaginian deacon, to enumerate the heretics, briefly, in full—expressly confronts (most forcefully in the epilogue) the impossibility of composing heresiology.

91 Epiphanius, De Fide 13.9. διόπερ ἐπὶ τέλει παντὸς το λόγου “νεάνιδας” ἔϕην “μὴ ἐχούσας ἀριθμὸν” τάς γε κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν ἔννοιαν ἑαυτας νεανιζούσας, οὐ μὴν εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν, εἰς τὸ τελειον τς σοϕίας τὰ εἴδη, ϕρονήσεώς τε καὶ ἀνδρείας καὶ σωϕροσύνης καὶ δικαιοσύνης· ἐξ ν ἄλλαι νεανίζουσαι ἐπὶ τὸ τυραννικώτερον καὶ ἀπὸ τς ἀληθείας [ἀλλότριον] ἑαυτὰς ἐκτρέπουσιν, ὥστε μὴ εναι ἀριθμὸν τούτων.

92 Epiphanius, Pan. 3.4–5. During his presentation of the age of Hellenism, Epiphanius ascribes the introduction of idolatry and thus sectarianism (via the actions of Serug and Terah) to the excessive freedom of human intellect. Unbridled reason and intellectual speculation bred the very notion of evil and in so doing fomented alternative systems of worship. The introduction of idols not only signifies an end to the exclusive relationship between humanity and the singular divinity, but it marks the emergence of a sustained history, with its soon-to-be multifold divisions, of religious deviation. On this point, see William Adler, “The Origins of the Proto-Heresies: Fragments from a Chronicle in the First Book of Epiphanius’ Panarion,” JTS 41 (1990) 472–501.

93 Epiphanius, Pan. pro. II.1.3–5.

94 Ibid., II.2.1–3. Translation modified. Ἔστω δὲ ὁ σκοπὸς [here, Holl surmises τς πραγματείας σαγὴς] τ ἐντυγχάνοντι περὶ παντός του ζητήματος, ὅτι τν καιρν ἐστι καὶ χρόνων τὰ ἐϕευρήματα, ὅσα ἠδυνήθη ὁ σμικρὸς ἡμν νος ἐξασκηθεὶς καταλαβέσθαι, καὶ οὐ πάντως που ἐπαγγελλόμεθα πάντων τν ἐν τ κόσμῳ· ἄϕατα γάρ ἐστι καὶ ϕατά, ἀμύθητά τε καὶ ἐν ἀριθμ μὴ καθιστάμενα καὶ ὅσον μὲν εἰς ἀνθρώπους κεν ἀνέϕικτα, μόνῳ δὲ τ τν ὅλων δεσπότῃ γινωσκόμενα. τὸ δὲ ἐπάγγελμα ἔχει περὶ διαϕορς δοξν τε καὶ γνώσεων, [ἐπαγγελμάτων τε] πίστεώς τε θεο καὶ ἀπιστίας, αἱρέσεών τε καὶ κακοδόξου γνώμης ἀνθρωπείας ὑπὸ πεπλανημένων ἀνδρν ἐν κόσμῳ ἐσπαρμένης, ἐξότε ἄνθρωπος ἐπὶ γς πέπλασται ἄχρι το ἡμετέρου χρόνου.

95 Epiphanius, Pan. 80.10.1–2.

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