The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo Nilous: Hieroglyphic Semantics in Late Antiquity, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo Nilous

Hieroglyphic Semantics in Late Antiquity, 1st Edition

By Mark Wildish


174 pages

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pub: 2017-10-30
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The main aim of this book is to reconstruct a philosophical context for the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo, a late 5th century Greek study of hieroglyphic writing. In addition to reviewing and drawing on earlier approaches it explores the range of signs and meanings for which Horapollo is interested in giving explanations, whether there are characteristic types of explanations given, what conception of language in general and of hieroglyphic Egyptian in particular the explanations of the meanings of the glyphs presuppose, and what explicit indications there are of having been informed or influenced by philosophical theories of meaning, signs, and interpretation.

Table of Contents



1 The Text and Author of the Hieroglyphica

2 Linguistic Signs

2.1 The Historical Meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphs

2.2 Meaning in Horapollo

2.3 Neoplatonic Theories of Meaning

3 Natural Signs

3.1 The Graeco-Roman Reception of the Tradition

3.2 Genre: Lexicon or Encyclopedia?

3.3 Natural and Artefactual Signs in Horapollo

4 Divine Symbols

4.1 The Christian-Pagan Controversy

4.2 The Allegory of Hieroglyphic Egyptian

4.3 Neoplatonic Hieroglyphics

5 The Cosmos of the Hieroglyphica

5.1 Horapollo’s Symbolic Hieroglyphs

5.2 Horapollo’s Metaphysics

5.3 Sensible Nature and the Intelligible Cosmos

Conclusion: Re-reading the Hieroglyphica


Appendix 1: Horapollo’s Hieroglyphs and their Meanings

Appendix 2: The Egyptian Content of the Hieroglyphica

Appendix 3: The Coptic Content of the Hieroglyphica


Text Editions

Secondary Texts

Other Primary Texts Cited

Other Secondary Texts Cited

About the Author

Mark Wildish is Tutor / Honorary Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Hong Kong.

About the Series

Issues in Ancient Philosophy

Routledge's Issues in Ancient Philosophy exists to bring fresh light to the central themes of ancient philosophy through original studies which focus especially on texts and authors which lie outside the central ‘canon’. Contributions to the series are characterised by rigorous scholarship presented in an accessible manner; they are designed to be essential and invigorating reading for all advanced students in the field of ancient philosophy.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General