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125 other members of his family in a manuscript of Cypriot provenance at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Gr. 280, fols. 192v–195r).3 Also, readers would have benefited from a chronological table of the events related in the text. Generally, the volume is carefully edited and there are very few typographical mistakes. Because of its lack of literary artistry and of historical originality and perception, Amadi compares poorly with the fifteenth-century Greek chronicle of Leontios Makhairas, which it used, or with the sixteenth-century Italian chronicle of Florio Bustron, who used Amadi. On the other hand, its fidelity to its sources renders it significantly more reliable than the often fanciful late sixteenth-century work of Étienne de Lusignan. Nevertheless, it remains a valuable text that enhances our understanding of the extensive corpus of medieval Cypriot historiography by establishing its extraordinary continuity and by placing it in a wider geographical and cultural context. This important publication is, thus, imperative for all students of medieval Cypriot history and I am sure that it will stir more interest in the vibrant field of the island’s history-writing tradition under Latin rule, inspiring broader historical debates. 1 Chronique d’Amadi, ed. René de Mas Latrie in Chroniques d’Amadi et de Strambaldi, 2 vols. [Documents inédits relatifs à l’histoire de France] (Paris, 1891– 1893; repr. Nicosia, 1991), vol. I. 2 Leontios Makhairas, Χρονικό της Κύπρου. Παράλληλη διπλωµατικήέκδοση των χειρογράϕων, ed. Michalis Pieris and Angel Nicolaou-Konnari, [Cyprus Research Centre, Texts and Studies in the History of Cyprus XLVIII] (Nicosia, 2003), pp. 37, 39. 3 Jean Darrouzès, ‘Notes pour servir à l’histoire de Chypre (troisième article)’, Κυπριακαί Σπουδαί, 22 (1958), pp. 232–235. Angel Nicolaou-Konnari University of Cyprus Nicosia Collar, Anna 2013. Religious networks in the Roman Empire: The Spread of New Ideas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 315 pp. + index. ISBN: 978-1-107-04344-2 (hardbound). The Justin Bieber hairstyle continues to make the news. The pop singer’s regular reinterpretations of his locks secure media attention and excite his myriad fans, some of whom dutifully transpose his hairdo onto theirs. Now, for all its triteness, that is a clear and physical manifestation of the spread of new ideas. Anna Collar’s book makes for engrossing reading: in it, she helps us to understand how such ‘memes’—discrete elements of a culture, or system of behaviour—including more serious ones than hairstyles, get circulated and accepted. Reading her book helps the reader become somewhat more familiar with a basic quandary in social life and mass communication, and a touchstone for the study of social impact and control. Why, of so many new ideas sprouting everywhere and all the time, do such a few catch fire and (in modern Facebook parlance) ‘go viral’? Not only that but, beyond the immediacy of their initial burst of novelty and interest, how do such ideas actually settle down and become mainstreamed into contemporary society? The search for valid answers to this ‘mysterious phenomenon’ of social contagion—as Collar quotes Dostoyevsky in her opening sentences (p. 1)—has not only gripped engaged scholars but also actual and aspiring fashion designers, brand managers, marketing gurus, epidemiologists and politicians, and for obvious reasons. Susan Blackmore has already proposed the study of ‘memetics’ as a science of idea and behaviour replication, doing so largely using a psychological approach redolent of genetic determinism. In The Meme Machine (1999), she follows the lead of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (1976). In that pioneering book, Dawkins coins the term ‘meme’ to stand for a ‘unit’ of human cultural evolution comparable to the gene, suggesting that such selfish replication may also model human culture, albeit in a different sense. Collar takes this topic forward, using a different (and less deterministic) approach, grounded in a disciplinary blend of archaeology, (actor) network theory, the sociology of religion, but also physics, mathematics and computer science. She brings to bear her intimate knowledge of the Roman Empire and its religious practices, weaving a compelling and credible narrative of how such an empire— with its loose interpretation of religion as a concern for and with ritual (rather than for/with belief)— was fertile ground for a whole wave of alternative, often competing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2523-9465
Print ISSN
1016-3476
Pages
pp. 125-126
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-11
Open Access
No
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