Prof. Pollmann re-appointed Extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch

Prof. Karla Pollmann

Karla Pollmann, Head of the School of Humanities and Professor of Classics, has been re-appointed as Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

This appointment gives recognition of Professor Pollmann’s proven specialized expertise in Classics and Early Christian Studies, and her eminence in her profession and field of study.

It also implies Professor Pollmann to be involved in the academic programmes of the Stellenbosch Department of Ancient Studies.

Many congratulations!

Interaction in Imperial Greek Literature Workshop

This September, the University of Reading hosted a workshop, which showcased postgraduate research on the theme of interaction in imperial Greek literature. The workshop resulted from informal discussions at the Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL) 2015, where over two intensive days of presentations, only a single panel of three speakers was dedicated to imperial Greek literature. Identifying a desire to bring those working in this field together, Claire Jackson (Cambridge) and I came up with the idea for a one-day workshop. One advantage of this was that we were able to include researchers working on many different authors and texts in a single programme. While many of us regularly meet others working on our own author/s, we are usually less aware of postgraduates who work on other imperial texts. It was great to meet others who do so, hear their contributions, and make connections between authors, texts, and wider themes. Interest in the workshop was widespread, and the good turnout of Reading students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, was particularly heartening. Over three sessions, we were treated to papers on Plutarch, Lucian, Aelius Aristides, the novels, pseudo-Appian, and a wide variety of other literary sources, like papyri and inscriptions.

 

The first session explored intertextuality in two imperial Greek authors. Chrysanthos Chrysanthou’s (Heidelberg) paper suggested a possible allusion, hitherto unnoticed, in the prologue of Plutarch’s Demosthenes to Plato’s Theaetetus. This allusion to Plato’s dialogue, in which the life of the philosopher is juxtaposed with the life of the orator, is well placed at the very beginning of these Plutarchan Lives, since they deal precisely with men who oscillate between philosophy and oratory. The reference may guide readers, actively encouraging them to consider the philosophical value of studying rhetoric. Another author very well-acquainted with rhetoric and its implications, Aelius Aristides, was the subject of the next paper. Francesca Modini (King’s College London) examined his oration To the Rhodians. In it, the author/speaker compares himself in his mission of persuading the Rhodians to restore civil concord to the archaic lyric poet Terpander, who famously resolved a civil war in Sparta with his music. Francesca demonstrated, however, that the allusions go beyond the surface level of explicit references like this. She pointed out that it is a whole series of often subtle allusions to earlier authors (of both poetry and prose) and mythical or historical events that enrich the reader’s experience.

 

In the second session, two Nicks (Nick Wilshere and Nicolò d’Alconzo) shed light on different aspects of works by Lucian. Nick Wilshere (Nottingham)gave a close reading of Lucian’s short piece, Hercules, in which the Greek narrator, travelling in Celtic lands, encounters a painting of Herakles or ‘Ogmios’, which he has difficulty interpreting. A local Celtic ‘philosopher’ comes to his assistance, and the two men compete to display their cultural education (paideia) by quoting Homer. Nick analysed the delicate interplay between the two; how each character uses the particular lines he quotes, embedding them in a new context. Nicolò (Exeter) journeyed from Lucian to the Greek novels, pointing out that various features of Lucian’s dialogue, the Amores, have counterparts in the novels. For example, both the Amores and Xenophon of Ephesus include similar voyages from east to west. Other elements common to each include the appearance of temple attendants as characters, settings in ‘Platonic’ gardens (like in the Phaedrus), and the device of describing or interpreting art.

 

The two papers of the final session each dealt in different ways with the literary tradition, its reception, and those who utilised it for their own ends. Chris Mallan (Oxford) dealt with Pseudo-Appian’s Parthica, a text previously neglected by scholars, dismissed as a product of the Byzantine period. Yet references to a projected Parthica in Appian’s own work, and similarities between this text and Plutarch’s Antony suggest, Chris argued, that the author of the Parthica was more probably familiar with Appian’s work, and wrote in the second century A.D. This author may have appropriated Appian’s name for legitimacy, which raises questions regarding literary imitation and imposture at the time. Dan Jolowicz’s (Cambridge) paper challenged the widespread assumption that Greeks in the imperial period were not interested in reading – or enjoying – Latin literature. He drew attention to some Greek inscriptions that seem to refer to Greek poets composing in Latin, papyri with texts (like Virgil) designed for Greeks wishing to learn Latin, and references in the literature to Greeks reading Latin works.

 

Our own colleague Ian Rutherford gave the very entertaining keynote address, which examined interaction between Greece and Egypt. In particular, he focussed on a passage from Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana, in which Apollonius and some followers visit the cataracts at the source of the Nile. Noting that it is impossible not only to take but even to imagine the road to the source itself, Philostratus evokes a poem by Pindar on the subject of the divinity who guards the Nile. Ian’s talk prompted much discussion on Philostratus’ account of the visit to Egypt, the reference to Pindar, and Greek perceptions of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Following the keynote address, a group discussion brought together some of the themes that emerged throughout the day. Topics that arose included the status of earlier literature in the imperial period and the effect of imperial allusions to it (i.e. Which earlier Greek texts were widely read? How familiar would an audience be with works referenced implicitly or explicitly in imperial texts?), the long-standing relationship between philosophy and rhetoric, and levels of difficulty and/or nuance in texts (which could potentially separate educated from uneducated or Greek from non-Greek). Questions relating to performance and identity, and the expression of shared identity were also explored.

Personally, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the workshop was being able to engage with so many different texts, many of which I had encountered only cursorily or not at all. The range of authors, works, and genres represented at the workshop demonstrates just how rich the field of imperial Greek literature is. It is clear that there is still much to consider in this very fruitful area. I hope that future events like this will continue to provide opportunities to disseminate such invaluable research.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the generosity and support of the Graduate School and the Classics department at the University of Reading, the Jowett Copyright Trust, and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, without which this workshop would not have been possible.

In order to reach other researchers working in imperial Greek literature, share ideas, and advertise upcoming events, participants decided that a network should be created. This network, SIGIL (Studies in Greek Imperial Literature) is aimed at postgraduates and early-career researchers, but anyone interested in the field is most welcome to join.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sigilreading

Twitter: SigilReading

 

Photos courtesy of Joe Watson.

Reading Classicist publishes a book in Dutch

Dutch_cover

Professor Eleanor Dickey’s book ‘Stories of Daily Life in the Roman World’ has been published — in Dutch! This book focusses on a subset of the ancient Latin-learning materials she published in ‘Learning Latin the Ancient Way’, the ancient dialogues about daily life in Rome, and provides translations and introductions for people who are interested not in learning Latin, but in Roman culture. It is illustrated with dozens of drawings of objects referred to in the texts; these were enormously fun to produce and gave real focus to all her trips to museums and ancient sites over a period of several years.

Although very fond of the Dutch language, she actually wrote the book in English, and it will be published in English by Cambridge University Press, eventually. (Probably 2018 or so, given the speed at which Cambridge works: the final version of the book was handed in in April 2016 and has been in a queue ever since.) But meanwhile an enterprising Dutch Classicist, Vincent Hunink, got in touch and asked about opportunities to do a book on the dialogues for a Dutch audience. So she sent him a draft of the book, and he translated the dialogues themselves from the original Latin and Greek, while Arian Verheij, a Dutch translator, translated the portions originally composed in English. Eleanor believes that the result looks absolutely splendid in electronic form, though she has not yet seen an actual copy of the book.

For more information see http://www.singeluitgeverijen.nl/athenaeum/boek/in-een-romeins-klaslokaal/

Classics Research Seminars – Spring Term 2017

We are delighted to announce our research seminar programme for Spring Term 2017.

Please note that in weeks 3–5 our regular seminars will be replaced by the fantastic programme of the ‘Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen’ events (further information on which can be found here).

Week 2 – Jan 18: Lyndsay Coo (Bristol), ‘Greek tragedy and the theatre of sisterhood’
Week 3 – Jan 25: Iphigeneia in Aulis (7pm, Minghella Cinema)
Week 4 – Feb 1: Agamemnon (7pm, Minghella Cinema)
Week 5 – Feb  8: Electra (7pm, Minghella Cinema)

No seminar in Week 6

Week 7 – Feb  22: Tosca Lynch (Oxford), ‘The Symphony of Temperance in Republic 4: musical imagery and practical models’
Week 8 – Mar 1: Giulia Biffis (Reading), ‘A Sapphic inter text for Lycophron’s female voice’
Week 9 – Mar 8: Karen Ni-Mheallaigh (Exeter), ‘Eye of night: the Moon as a site of optical paradox in antiquity and beyond’ — CANCELLED
Week 10 – Mar 15: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Cardiff), ‘Sexual Violence and a Re-Reading of the Eurymedon Vase’

ADDITIONAL SEMINAR:

Week 10 – Mar 15: Katerina Panagopoulou (University of Crete), ‘Saviour Monarchs in Context: (Ab)uses of the title ’Soter’ in the Hellenistic period’ (2pm, Ure Museum)

Venue and time (unless otherwise stated): HumSS G25, 4pm.

All welcome!

Clytemnestra in your living room? Greek Tragedy on the Small Screen

It’s not often that the ancient Greek adulteress and murderer graces the cover of the Radio Times – still less often does she wear a costume that combines Minoan art with Doctor Who.   But Diana Rigg’s 1979 performance as Clytemnestra was just one of dozens of extraordinary TV events enjoyed by audiences in Britain between 1958 and 1990.  During these years, British TV channels regularly screened productions of Greek tragedy, beaming the ancient stories of war, revenge, and heroism directly into the home.  In spring term 2017 we have the unique opportunity to watch three films of Greek tragedy that were first shown on the small screen.

 

Our films are carefully chosen to pursue the theme of the Trojan War and its aftermath, which is also the theme this year of our Part 2 core module in ‘Ancient Drama’.  We follow the story from the sacrifice of A1gamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia, which permits him to lead the Greeks to victory in the war, through the return of Agamemnon to face his vengeful wife, and finally into the next, doomed generation, where another daughter, Electra, waits to take her revenge in turn.  We have managed to obtain the coveted ‘F’ rating for all these films, since they all have central female roles, and one was also directed by a woman.

 

Our first screening is Iphigenia at Aulis, the 1990 production directed by Don Taylor.  This was Taylor’s last drama for the BBC and also, apparently, the last Greek tragedy shown on British television. Taylor’s translations of the Iphigenia at Aulis and other plays by Euripides continue to be popular.  The film was shot by multiple cameras in continuous action, in a studio rather than on location, so there were challenges for the actors and for the technical crew.  The performance by Fiona Shaw as Clytemnestra, the mother who must see her daughter die, was much acclaimed; one critic said that ‘You do not often get a performance of this size on TV’.

 

Our second play is Agamemnon, the first play of the 1979 trilogy The Serpent Son, a translation of Aeschylus’s Oresteia.  Diana Rigg stars as Clytemnestra, but in this play the queen does not suffer loss – instead she turns the tables on her husband.  Agamemnon returns to Greece as the victorious general, having destroyed the city of Troy, but he must now pay the price for the sacrifice of his daughter.  Clytemnestra has waited at home a long time.  The stellar cast of the trilogy included Helen Mirren, Anton Lesser, Claire Bloom, and Billie Whitelaw, and the production also sparked interest because of its striking design and costumes, which channelled ancient myths through a sci-fi sensibility – the designer, Barbara Kidd, had worked on Doctor Who.  The production used the resources of TV in other innovative ways, too, as we shall see.

 

Our final film, Electra, was first shown on ITV in 1962, in Modern Greek without subtitles.  The film is of the production by Dimitris Rondiris and Peiraïkon Theatron, which had toured much of the world since its premiere in 1959.  The stage production was adapted for television by Joan Kemp-Welch, one of the first women directors to work in television in the 1950s.  She thought that the film would be a hit on TV, despite the language barrier, because it was a production that seized the emotions, rather than appealing only to the intellect.  Rondiris himself said that ‘The audience will cry, as our audiences all over Europe have cried. They have not understood a word, but they have cried’.

Come and join us for this unique series.  All the films are shown in the Minghella Cinema at 7 pm.  You can buy tickets for all three at a special reduced price.

 

Wednesday January 25th: Iphigenia at Aulis

Wednesday February 1st: Agamemnon

Wednesday February 8th: Electra

 

Tickets start at £5.  Reduced rates for concessions, RFT members, and for the series as a whole.  Please see http://readingfilmtheatre.co.uk  or contact b.e.goff@reading.ac.uk

 

Thanks to our colleagues at Reading Film Theatre, the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, and the University Arts Committee 2 3

Watch: Naked From the Knees Up – Ancient Latin Textbooks Rediscovered (by Prof. Eleanor Dickey)

On 8 November 2016, Prof. Eleanor Dickey gave a talk to the Roman Society entitled ‘Naked From the Knees Up – Ancient Latin Textbooks Rediscovered’. You may watch her talk here, courtesy of the Roman Society:

The Sixth Annual Percy Ure Lecture

We are delighted to announce the sixth Annual Percy Ure Lecture:

Professor Christopher Smith (British School at Rome):

Commercial Tyrants:
A Model for Central Italy?

Friday, 25 November 2016

5pm

University of Reading
Whiteknights Campus
Henley Business School
Lecture Theatre G15

All welcome!

UreLecture

The lecture is free to attend, but booking is recommended, as space is limited: if you wish to attend, please register your interest with Prof. Peter Kruschwitz at p.kruschwitz@reading.ac.uk.

The Annual Percy Ure Lecture series was launched in 2011 to celebrate the centenary of Reading’s Classics Department:

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/about/urelecture.aspx

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/about/class-history.aspx

http://www.reading.ac.uk/classics/

New Books from Classics

It has been a busy summer for the department and the Classics research division as we prepared for the new academic year 2016-7. Now we are fully back into the swing of teaching, and we are delighted to share some recent, exciting news with you.

We would like to kick off our updates with a little celebration of our most recent book publications. Over the last few months, in addition to dozens of articles and other formats, a number of important, impactful new books, authored or edited by colleagues from Reading’s Classics department, have been published:

  • Dickey, E. (2016): An introduction to the composition and analysis of Greek prose. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Fournet , J.-L. and Papaconstantinou, A., eds. (2016): Mélanges Jean Gascou: textes et études papyrologiques (P. Gascou). Travaux et Mémoires, 20 (1). Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance, Collège de France – CNRS, Paris.
  • Nicholls, M. ed. (2016): 30-Second Ancient Greece: The 50 Most Important Achievements of a Timeless Civilization, Each Explained in Half a Minute. Ivy Press, London.

In addition to this, Dr Matthew Nicholls has also worked as a consultant for a delightful children’s book based on his best-selling 30-seconds Ancient Rome volume of 2014:

  • Holland, S. and Hill, A. (2016): Ancient Rome in 30 Seconds: 30 fascinating topics for time travellers, explained in half a minute. Ivy Press, London.

Here is a short little film that was produced on occasion of the book launch of ’30-Second Ancient Greece’:

Would you like to find out more about the impressive volume and range of our published research? Check out our institutional repository, CentAUR, following this link.

Classics Research Seminars – Autumn Term 2016

We are delighted to announce our research seminars and special lectures for Autumn Term 2016:

28 September
Francesca Silvestrelli (Salento), “Pottery workshops in Greek colonies of the Ionian coast: production and consumption at Metaponto and Herakleia”

5 October
Evert Van Emde Boas (Oxford), “Realism in Euripidean characterization: a cognitive approach”

12 October
Luigi Prada (Oxford) “Two Languages, Four Scripts (and Counting): Dealing with Linguistic Diversity in Graeco-Roman Egypt”

19 October
Barbara Borg (Exeter), “Reviving tradition in Hadrianic Rome: From incineration to inhumation”

26 October
Andreas Gavrielatos (Edinburgh), “In search of the hidden truth in Persius’ Satires”

9 November
Sophia Piacentin (KCL) “Epigraphy in context: the case of multae in Roman and  Samnite Italy”

16 November
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Cardiff), “Sexual Violence and a Re-Reading of the Eurymedon Vase”

23 November
Peter Agocs (UCL) “Pindar’s Pythian 4 and Greek colonial memory”

25 November
Annual Percy N. Ure Lecture
Christopher Smith (BSR)
Title and venue tbc.

30 November
Nicoletta Momigliano (Bristol) “Aegeomania’ or Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology beyond archaeology modern obsessions with the Aegean Bronze Age Past in various cultural practices”

7 December
Fred Naiden (North Carolina), “The Self-Image of Alexander the Great”

Unless otherwise stated, all seminars will take place at 4pm in the Van Emden lecture theatre (HumSS).

Everyone welcome.

Interaction in Imperial Greek Literature Workshop

Brief

Postgraduate workshop on the theme of interaction in imperial Greek literature, to be held at the University of Reading on Friday September 16, 2016.

Abstract

When we think of imperial Greek literature, we tend to think of creative and innovative authors, like Plutarch, Lucian, and Aelius Aristides, whose works draw deeply and (self-)consciously from the existing literary tradition, but also frequently subvert and play with readers’ expectations.  Many of the works produced in Greek during the imperial period are difficult to categorise, at first glance seeming to participate in one genre, but upon closer examination engaged in a more intricate interplay of genres, styles, and allusions.  The theme of interaction is here interpreted broadly; we may think of interaction as encompassing processes of innovation, enrichment, influence, adaptation, or repurposing.  In imperial Greek literature, in particular, we may observe the interaction that occurs between genres, between fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry, past and present, and between what is and is not considered ‘Greek’.

While recent scholarship has emphasised the great variety and intensity of interaction that characterises imperial literature, much work is required to move away from pursuing authors and their works in isolation, towards a more universal approach.  The aim of this workshop is, therefore, to foster dialogue between the different fields of imperial Greek literature (the novel, rhetoric, biography, historiography, etc.), in order to reach new and more nuanced conclusions.

Speakers will address wider issues concerning imperial authors’ engagement with earlier established genres and texts, from archaic and classical lyric poetry to later Latin works.  They will consider how authors viewed their own work and its place in the literary tradition, and the ways in which readers interpreted the fusions and tensions these works embody.  Exploring these complex processes of (re-)invention and (re-)interpretation can open up new ways of understanding the literary polyphony of imperial culture.

One of the anticipated outcomes of the workshop is the creation of an imperial Greek literature network for those working in the area, to be organised in the final group discussion of the day.

The titles of the papers are included in the programme outlined below.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Department of Classics at the University of Reading, the Graduate School at the University of Reading, the Jowett Copyright Trust, and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

Programme

9:30 – 9:45: Registration
9:45 – 10:00: Introduction (Caitlin Prouatt, Claire Jackson)

10:00 – 11:10, Session 1

(chair: Caitlin Prouatt)

Chrysanthos Chrysanthou (Heidelberg): ‘Generic hybridity in the prologues to Plutarch’s Lives’
Francesca Modini (King’s College London): ‘Playing with Terpander & Co.: lyric interactions in imperial rhetoric’

11:10 – 11:30: Tea break

11:30 – 12:40, Session 2
(chair: Chris Mallan)
Nick Wilshere (Nottingham): ‘Homer among the Celts: Lucian’s Hercules’
Nicolò d’Alconzo (Exeter): ‘Mapping Greek novels with Lucian’

12:40 – 1:30: Lunch

1:30 – 2:40, Session 3
(chair: Claire Jackson)
Chris Mallan (Oxford): ‘Further thoughts on the Parthica of Pseudo-Appian’
Dan Jolowicz (Cambridge): ‘Greek imperial authors reading Latin literature for pleasure’

2:40 – 3:00: Tea break

3:00 – 4:30, Session 4
Ian Rutherford (Reading): keynote address
Group discussion

5:00: End of conference