Hero of Alexandria's Automata: a critical edition and translation, including a commentary on Book One

Grillo, Francesco (2019) Hero of Alexandria's Automata: a critical edition and translation, including a commentary on Book One. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is a critical edition, with introduction, translation and partial commentary, of the Automata, a two-book mechanical treatise written by Hero of Alexandria (first century CE). It provides the first commentary on BOOK ONE, dealing with the construction of a mobile, as opposed to a stationary, automaton.
The preface summarises the significance, aims and limitations of the work. The opening section gives a summary of some of the conventions and abbreviations used in the thesis, and is followed by a list of figures.
The introduction provides a context for an informed reading of the text. It consists of six parts. Part One discusses the ‘Heronian question’, with particular attention to the chronology of the Automata and the Pneumatica. Part Two evaluates previous editions and translations, and summarises the main novelties of this study. Part Three assesses the manuscript tradition, including a stemmatic analysis of a large number of manuscripts. Part Four mainly discusses the various forms of the title of the treatise, which is reconstructed as Περὶ αὐτομάτων (On Automata). Greater uncertainty surrounds the heading of BOOK TWO, Περὶ στατῶν αὐτομάτων (On Stationary Automata), which may have been derived from Hero’s source, Philo of Byzantium (third-century BCE). Part Five focuses on the work itself. It starts with an overview of the structure of the text, with remarks on previous editorial practices. This is followed by a critical description of the contents of the treatise and by a discussion of the historical, literary and cultural background. This, in turn, allows for consideration of the performative context of Hero’s automata. Attention is then paid to the purpose and intended audience of the treatise, followed by an exploration of Hero’s relationship with his sources. A stylistic comparison with the Pneumatica sheds new light on Hero’s degree of originality, removing suspicions of interpolation. Finally, discussion turns to the status of the text. Internal inconsistencies are best explained as the result of incomplete authorial editing. Part Six addresses the principles of the edition.
The text, apparatus criticus and translation form the centre of the thesis. To maximise readability, the layout of the English translation mirrors the layout of the Greek text. The elucidation of the manuscript sigla and abbreviations used in the apparatus criticus precedes the text.
The commentary is mainly philological and text-critical in nature. However, it also addresses stylistic, interpretive and reconstructive issues, without failing to consider the oldest manuscript diagrams.
Following the commentary are six appendixes: (1) a concordance of editions; (2) addenda et corrigenda to Schmidt’s edition; (3) three stemmata codicum; (4) illustrations; (5) a review of Masià (2015); (6) an index of technical terms. Appendix (4) includes manuscript diagrams and reconstruction drawings of the mobile automaton. The thesis closes with a bibliography.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Hero of Alexandria, mechanics, ancient engineering, ancient technology, automata, automata-making, automation, mobile automaton, stationary automaton, Περὶ αὐτομάτων, Περὶ στατῶν αὐτομάτων, Philo of Byzantium.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Classics
Funder's Name: Leverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)
Supervisor's Name: Ruffell, Prof. Isabel
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Francesco Grillo
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-76774
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Dec 2019 12:03
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2022 08:29
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.76774
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/76774

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