Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2018.01.36 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.01.36

Helmuth Schneider, Antike zwischen Tradition und Moderne: Gesammelte Schriften zur Wirtschafts-, Technik- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte (herausgegeben von Kai Ruffing und Kerstin Droß-Krüpe). Philippika, 95​.   Wiesbaden:  Harrassowitz Verlag, 2016.  Pp. xxiv, 429.  ISBN 9783447106481.  €88.00.  


Reviewed by Milo Nikolic, Memorial University of Newfoundland (mnikolic@mun.ca)

Table of Contents

This collection of 24 essays celebrates Helmuth Schneider’s 70th birthday and the 40th anniversary of the publication of his first scholarly article. Schneider is famously, of course, co-editor of Der Neue Pauly, and in general a most prolific author and editor of works concerned with the history of ancient technology and the ancient economy. The present volume is an anthology of Schneider’s work published between 1983 and 2015, selected by Ruffing und Droß-Krüpe in collaboration with Schneider (x), and accompanied by an introductory essay written by Schneider himself.

The introductory essay, taking the place of a traditional preface (“Anstelle eines Vorwortes: Der Historiker und seine Lektüre”), is a delightful personal piece in which Schneider reminisces about the literary stepping stones in his academic career since 1966. His point of departure is the premise that little is generally known about the intellectual environment that shapes scholars and their opinions. The essay takes the reader on a time travel through the books that framed Schneider’s thought and work. In addition to being an interesting read in its own right, the introductory essay is also a review of 50 years of intellectual history in the research of science, technology, and economics.

The selection of the previously published articles is divided into three topical sections, Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte (“Economic and Social History”; nine pieces), Technikgeschichte (“History of Technology”; six pieces), and Wissenschaftsgeschichte (literally “History of Science,” but given the introspective contents perhaps better translated as “History of the Discipline”; eight pieces). The volume is rounded off by a list of Schneider’s publications (Schriftenverzeichnis) from 1974 till 2015, consisting of an impressive 206 items, and two indices, one of personal names, the other of primary sources quoted in the essays. “Smaller mistakes” (“kleinere Versehen”; x, not further specified) from the original publications were “quietly” (“stillschweigend”) corrected, and the page numbers of the original publications appear in square brackets in the appropriate place in this reprint.

To be sure, none of the material in this volume is new—some of it is, in fact, in excess of three decades old. It is, however, an impressive testament and homage to the prolific career of Helmuth Schneider. It is a best-of album, accompanied by the promise that more is to come. Because the essays have already been published and have not been updated, a review of their arguments is not necessary. Their republication in this form does, however, provoke certain questions. Does the author himself have second thoughts about some of the older material? Personal and professional viewpoints and opinions change over time. Could a post-script could have been added in which the author would re-examine the work of the early Schneider?

For younger scholars, this volume is a treasure trove of bibliographic information because much of the material originally appeared in or references journals and collections that are not necessarily in everybody’s monthly journal sweep. It is also a good book to have on the shelf as a model and reminder that careers and research interests rarely run in a straight line.

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