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The Aristotelian “Mirabilia”

Les « Mirabilia » aristotéliciens

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Published on Wednesday, March 02, 2022


This International Conference is entirely devoted to the Mirabilia, a collection attributed to Aristotle since Antiquity, which has probably be composed in the intellectual environment of the Peripatos. Our aim is to provide new insights into this little-known work, which is still historically the first example of what has been called Paradoxography. More precisely, the discussions will deal with the structure of the collection and its epistemology, with its relation to contemporary knowledge – from History to Literary Criticism –, and with its connection with the research led by Aristotle and his pupil Theophrastus.



The Mirabilia

This international conference, which will take place from 21 to 23 April 2022 in Nice, aims to foster discussions of a text attributed to Aristotle, yet little read and studied to this day: the collection On marvelous things heard (Περὶ θαυμασίων ἀκουσμάτων), also known under its Latin names, De mirabilibus auscultationibus or Mirabilia.

This collection gathers surprising, sometimes incredible anecdotes, generally focused on natural curiosities: most of the sections account, in a few lines, for some peculiarity linked to a given animal species and to a given place. In spite of the – misleading – appearances of disorder and eclecticism that may result from it, the Mirabilia deserves our attention in many respects: they are historically the first illustration of what the Moderns called paradoxography, a literary genre that enjoyed great popularity during the Hellenistic and Imperial periods. It also provides us a valuable insight into teachings and practices in the Lyceum, in Aristotle’s time or slightly later, since we probably owe the Mirabilia to the first Peripatetics.

Current research and scientific context

Although occupying a strategic position in Ancient literature history as well as in the Aristotelian tradition, our collection has not received much attention from scholars until recent years: there is, for instance, no French translation of it, and neither a scientific meeting nor a collective work has been specifically devoted to it thus far.

In hopes of filling this gap, the Nice conference will gather the very best international specialists of Aristotle and his followers, of their historical context and of the tradition of the Mirabilia. It will, at the same time, be part of a current trend of research, marked by a renewed interest for paradoxography and by several editorial projects: after a PhD thesis exploring those matters, C. Giacomelli has worked on two books, one of them – published in 2021 – dealing with the textual tradition, the other – forthcoming – including a new critical edition of the collection. S. Schorn, co-organiser of the meeting, has just edited a volume which is part of the continuation of Felix Jacoby’s Fragmente  der Griechischen Historiker (FGrHist) containing commented editions of the Greek paradoxographers of the Imperial period and of uncertain date. R. Mayhew, co-organiser too, is preparing a new translation of the Mirabilia, for the Loeb collection.

Lastly, in 2023, the conference will lead to the publication of a new volume in the Theophrastus Project series (Rutgers University Studies in Classical Humanities), an initiative launched in 1979 by Bill Fortenbaugh, which strives for a deeper understanding of Theophrastus, Aristotle’s most famous pupil, as well as for a better knowledge of his Peripatetic surroundings.


To ensure a short-term publication, the communications will first circulate in written form among the participants, in order to encourage reflection before the meeting itself. During the conference, they will be briefly presented, so that more time will be reserved for exchanges of ideas, debates and questions raised by the papers. In this way, we hope to give rise to a more lively and better-informed conversation on the topic of Mirabilia.


Thursday, April 21

              Chair: T. Dorandi

  • 9:30  Tiziano Dorandi (CNRS)

               General Introduction

  • 9:45 Ciro Giacomelli ( Padova)

               The Text of Mir.: Observations on its Structure and Transmission

  • 10:35 Han Baltussen (Univ. Adelaide)

               Mapping Human Knowledge in Peripatetic Research: Mir., endoxa and the Limits of Belief [online]

11:25 Coffee break

              Chair: R. Mayhew

  • 11:40 Søren Sørensen (Freie Univ. Berlin)

               Ps.-Plutarch’s On Rivers, Stobaios 4.36 and Paradoxographical Literature

  • 12:30 Katerina Oikonomopoulou (Univ. Patras)  

               Mir. 16-22 and Theophrastus’ lost On Honey

13:20 Lunch

              Chair: R. Faure            

  • 14:25 Charles Delattre ( Lille)

               Homer and Homeric Exegesis in Mir. 115 [online]

  • 15:15 Stephen White (Univ. Texas)

               Mir. and Callimachus

16:05 Visit to the Museum of Natural History

Friday, April 22

              Chair: O. Hellmann

  • 09:30 Myrto Hatzimichali ( Cambridge)

               Mir. 1-15 and Historia Animalium 8(9)

  • 10:20 Katerina Ierodiakonou (Univ. Genève)

               Colour Changes in Mir.

11:10 Coffee break

              Chair: S. White

  • 11:25 Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall Univ.)

              Mir. 71-74 and Theophrastus’ De piscibus: A Case Study of the Role of θαυμάσια ἀκούσματα in Peripatetic Biology

  • 12:15 Arnaud Zucker ( Côte d’Azur)

               Mir. 23-28 and Theophrastus’ lost On Animals that Appear in Swarms

13:05 Lunch

             Chair: A. Zucker

  • 14:30 Oliver Hellmann ( Trier)

               Multiple Use of Data in Aristotle, the Peripatos and Beyond: Mir. 75-77 and Theophrastus’ lost On Animals Said to be Grudging

15:20 Visit to the Villa Kérylos

Saturday, April 23

              Chair: S. Schorn

  • 9:30 Gertjan Verhasselt (München)

               Mir. 149-150: Aristotle’s νόμιμα βαρβαρικά and Theophrastus’ On Creatures that Bite and Sting

  • 10:20 Irene Pajon Leyra ( Sevilla)

               On Islands and Structural Principles of the Historiographical Section [online]

11:10 Coffee break

              Chair: N. Bertrand

  • 11:25 Stefan Schorn (KU Leuven)

               Mir. and Timaeus

  • 12:15 Pietro Zaccaria (KU Leuven)

               Mir. 122-138 and Theopompos’ Philippika

13:05 Lunch

              Chair: S. Sørensen

  • 14:40 Kelly Shannon-Henderson ( Cincinnati)

               Mir. and Herakleides of Pontos

  • 15:30 George Kazantzidis ( Patras)

               Diseases in Mir.


Organizing Committee

The organisation of the meeting is handled by an international committee composed of four professors and one PhD student of the Université Côte d’Azur:

  • Arnaud Zucker (Pr. of Greek literature at UCA, France), Stefan Schorn (Pr. of Ancient History at KU Leuven, Belgium),
  • Robert Mayhew (Pr. of Philosophy at Seton Hall University, US),
  • Oliver Hellmann (Adjunct Pr. of Philology at Trier University, Germany) and
  • Anaelle Broseta (PhD student in Ancient Literature at UCA and Sorbonne University, France).

Most of the talks will be given in presence and viva voce, using the different languages of classical studies. Accordingly, the public – hopefully large and diverse – is warmly invited to attend the event in person, at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société, on the campus Saint-Jean-d’Angély.


  • Campus Saint-Jean-d’Angély (SJA-3, salle plate) - 24, avenue des Diables Bleus
    Nice, France (06)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Thursday, April 21, 2022
  • Friday, April 22, 2022
  • Saturday, April 23, 2022


  • Aristote, Théophraste, mirabilia, merveilleux, histoire des sciences, histoire de la géographie, ethnographie


  • Arnaud Zucker
    courriel : Arnaud [dot] ZUCKER [at] univ-cotedazur [dot] fr
  • Anaelle Broseta
    courriel : anaelle [dot] broseta [at] ens [dot] fr

Information source

  • Anaelle Broseta
    courriel : anaelle [dot] broseta [at] ens [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The Aristotelian “Mirabilia” », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, March 02, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18d0

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