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

Fishing Through Time

Every year the Department of Classics supports students through generous travel awards. Here is a report from our doctoral researcher Lee Graña:

FRWG

This autumn Lisbon was host to the 18th biennial meeting of the Fish Remains Working Group (FRWG), a conference attracting historians, archaeologists and ichthyologists from across the globe, with a common passion for the study of fish and fishing. Following my successful application for the Alan Wardman Travel Award I was able to attend the conference and following field trips to several important sites in the districts of Lisbon and Setubal. The insight into ongoing studies of ancient fisheries, alongside the contacts made, have made this a fruitful and influential experience.

FRWG2

The conference took place at the Lisbon Geographic Society over three days. There were nine diverse sessions promoting a rich interdisciplinary approach to the subject and therefore providing invaluable information on potential theories and approaches. Session Three: ‘Roman Fisheries and Fish Products’, highlighted the ongoing debates on the subject of Roman fish-processing. There continue to be various contrasting interpretations of the literary evidence, concerning the methods of salting fish for dried or sauce products. It seems the archaeological evidence from the Southern Iberian coast continues to be highly influenced by the classical authors and our interpretations of these texts. In addition to this debate, archaeological discoveries throughout Europe are revealing a complex structure of Roman fisheries with diverse approaches to the exploitation of freshwater and marine resources. I had a great opportunity to discuss this evidence further with current researchers and specialists in the field, while receiving invaluable feedback on my research. Several contacts were made with potential case studies for ongoing or future research.

FRWG3

The field trip started at the port of Setubal with a boat journey on a seventy-year-old ‘galleon’, originally used to transport salt. Accompanied by curious dolphins, we followed the Sado estuary to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and where the coastline is strewn with over two thousand years of manmade structures applied to the exploitation of marine resources. To date, many traditional fishing methods continue to be used, avoiding the influences of modern fisheries (the photograph above was taken at the quays of Carrasqueira, demonstrating the influence of the tidal estuary and the continuity of traditional fisheries).

The following day we visited the site of ‘Alcacér do Sal’ (The Salt Fortress). For close to three thousand years this site has acted as an acropolis overlooking the Sado river and its vast fertile banks where endless fields of rice are now cultivated, but where once salt pans stretched as far as the eye could see. The use of this resource for the production of salted fish products at an industrial scale may have its origins in the Phoenician occupation of southern Iberia, reaching its zenith during the Roman Empire. Alcacer is now a hotel and museum encompassing the medieval nunnery, which subsequently encompasses a 13th century Moorish fortress, in turn built on Roman foundations. However, not all of the Roman sites in the region have such a complex stratigraphy. The following visit was to the Troia Peninsula, where one of the largest Roman fish processing sites has survived, buried under vast sand dunes.

It is believed that fish sauce would have been produced at these workshops by mixing vast amounts of locally sourced fish with the salt being produced at Alcacer. The tanks vary in size, though the largest examples can reach 7 x 4 x 2m with a capacity of over 65m³. Twenty-five workshops (structures with one or more salting vats) have been identified at Troia, though much remains buried. Future excavations may provide more evidence on the capture and processing of local marine resources (the image below is a southern view of Workshop 1 and the FRWG team).

FRWG4

The final trip was to the ‘Merrcado do Livramento’, a local bazar rivaling the largest supermarket in Setubal. One third of the market was dedicated to selling fish, containing hundreds of species from diverse environments. From finger length anchovies to 2m long sword fish, the market provided us with fresh examples of the species identified in the archaeological record, as well as supper for the evening.

FRWG5

Though many countries contain archaeological examples of Roman fisheries, or are the subject of Roman literary texts on local fish consumption, Portugal provides a unique case study of a country which perpetuates the importance of local marine resources, as significant to the local economy and population today as it likely was two thousand years ago. The culture remains immersed and dependent on marine resources, combining ancient tradition with modern advances in a way that promotes the continued exploitation of local supplies, rather than their substitution for cheaper resources in international waters (as is the case in many European countries). It was therefore an ideal setting for the FRWG and an inspirational location for my research.

I would like to thank our host, Sónia Gabriel and the rest of the organizing committee for such an incredible experience and enriching conference. I would also like to thank Professor Annalisa Marzano and the Classics department for their support in making this trip possible.

Research Seminars – Autumn Term 2015

We are delighted to invite you to the following research seminars during Autumn Term 2015:

Oct 7 Anastasia Bakogianni (Open): ‘Electra’s Turn to the Dark Side: Nelson Rodrigues’ Brazilian Refiguration of the Tragic Heroine in Lady of the Drowned (1947)’

Oct 14 William Mack (Birmingham): ‘Vox Populi, Vox Deorum? Re-examining the Attic Document Reliefs’

Oct 21 Elton Barker (Open): ‘Towards a new geography of the ancient world: countercartography, networks and bottomless maps’

Nov 11 NO SEMINAR

Nov 18 Peter Kruschwitz (Reading): ‘Poetica Britannica: Approaching Britain’s Most Ancient Poetry’

Nov 25 Kunbi Olasope (Ibadan): ‘Elegiac Odes: The Burden of Women from Troy to Owu’

Dec 2 Consuelo Ruiz-Montero (Murcia): ‘The Ancient Greek Novel: An Introduction’

All seminars will be held at 4pm in HumSS G25 on Reading’s Whiteknights Campus.

In addition to the above, we would like to give advance notice of the 2015 Ure Lecture:

Oct 28 Ure Lecture: Ineke Sluiter (Leiden): ‘Anchoring Innovation’ (Henley Business School, G15; 5pm)

All Welcome!

Studying at the Fondation Hardt

The Hardt Foundation for the Study of Classical Antiquity in Vandoeuvres near Geneva is well-known among classicists for their excellent library, annual research conferences organised by world-leading experts in their fields, and the Entretiens collection of volumes covering particular topics about the ancient world. But perhaps even more important is the peaceful and friendly environment that helps researchers to concentrate on their work. Last year, I was awarded The Hardt Foundation Research Scholarship for young researchers and had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the Foundation estate in Vandoeuvres enjoying the fresh mountain air and the beautiful lake Geneva views, and, of course, working hard.

FH2

In particular, I was writing a chapter of my thesis on the representations of ritual space in Greek comedy. The final stage of work required a lot of attention and concentration to put all the material together and to provide the analysis with the conceptual framework. In that respect, I benefited a lot from my research stay at the Foundation library. I had a chance to consult all necessary commentaries and editions of Greek authors as well as secondary literature on my subject which proved to be – together with a truly productive lifestyle – particularly fruitful for writing up the piece.

I also prepared for publication a research output related to the topic of space in Greek comedy. This was a paper `Performing sacred landscape: worship and praise of land in Greek drama’ for an Oxbow volume of collected papers. In this article I consider direct addresses to land and landscape in Greek tragedies and comedies in the context of the Greek lyric tradition of cultic hymns. I study the function of these addresses within the dramatic plays and I discuss their role in constructing the identity of the audience through investing spaces with religious meanings.

FH1

I found the Hardt Foundation ideal for writing and thinking about my current work. At the same time it was great pleasure to meet other researchers and PhD students from all over Europe, as well as the director of the Foundation, ancient Greek historian and archaeologist Pierre Ducrey, the scientific secretary Gary and the maître dhôtel Heidi who prepared delightful meals that brought everyone together to share and discuss inspiring research ideas.

Elena Chepel

Herodotos and Plutarch Workshop – A Report

On 4th October 2013 the Department of Classics at Reading, hosted a one-day workshop on the subject of Herodotos and Plutarch.  The workshop was organised by two of the Department’s doctoral students, Lucy Fletcher and Niki Karapanagioti, with the support of Professors Timothy Duff and Phiroze Vasunia.

We were delighted to welcome as participants: Christopher Pelling (Oxford), Judith Mossman (Nottingham), Timothy Duff (Reading), Michele Lucchesi (Oxford), Tim Whitmarsh (Oxford), Tom Harrison (Liverpool), Aristoula Georgiadou (Patras), Suzanne Saïd (Paris/Columbia), John Marincola (Florida), Carolyn Dewald (Bard College), Rosaria Munson (Swarthmore College), Tim Rood (Oxford) and Phiroze Vasunia (Reading).  The papers and responses aimed to explore in-depth the relationship between these important Greek authors.  Subjects ranged from the representation of individual Greek states in the writings of Plutarch and Herodotos, through Plutarchan re-working of Herodotean material, Plutarch’s peculiarly ethical Herodotos, Plutarch as reader of Herodotos and more broadly the readership of the Histories, and on to more individual instances of Plutarch’s engagement with Herodotos in specific works and for specific historical events and themes.

The organisers were delighted with the response they received from interested parties prior to the event, and were pleased to welcome to Reading approximately fifty delegates, including a number of current Reading students – both undergraduate and postgraduate – and staff.  The response on the day from all participants was equally pleasing.  The papers sparked enthusiastic responses and extensive discussion, as manifest in the way in which we quickly departed from the timings advertised on the programme!

The workshop was immensely successful in generating debate and opening new lines of enquiry into this subject as a fruitful area of study.   Existing scholarship had focused on Plutarch’s reception of Herodotos in his polemical treatise, De Herodoti Malignitate, and on specific instances where the Histories function as a source within Plutarchan texts.  The conference proved particularly revealing, however, of the much greater potential inherent in this relationship as a subject of study for both Plutarchan and Herodotean scholars.  It made apparent the value of a retrospective turn to Herodotos from Plutarch for illuminating the text of the earlier writer, and the wider value of looking proleptically at Plutarch from Herodotos.

The organisers were extremely pleased with the event, and were delighted to receive so many messages from delegates to express how much they had enjoyed the day, and how much they felt it had achieved.  It is a pleasure to take one final opportunity to thank all the participants for making the day so successful and rewarding.  We would also like to thank the Department of Classics at Reading (and especially Prof. Peter Kruschwitz, former Head of Department), the Jowett Copyright Trust, the Institute of Classical Studies, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and the Graduate School at Reading for their support.  Lastly, we are delighted to thank Professors Timothy Duff and Phiroze Vasunia once again for their kindness and generosity in offering so much invaluable help and advice.

Lucy Fletcher

Animals in the Classical world – New Book by Reading Doctoral Researcher

Congratulations to our doctoral researcher Alastair Harden on the publication of his book Animals in the Classical world: ethical perspectives from Greek and Roman texts.

Harden, AnimalsThe sourcebook is a collection of nearly 200 specially-translated excerpts from Classical authors from Homer to Plutarch. It  aims to contextualize modern animal rights debates within the civilizations of Greece and Rome, and to provide an introduction to the uses of animal imagery in Classical literature with the ultimate goal of understanding the place of the non-human animal in the moral and ethical parameters of the ancient world.

Topics such as warfare, science, farming, vegetarianism and public entertainment join the more traditionally-philosophical corners of this growing area of Classical studies, and passages are included from authors of all genres of Classical literature including poets, novelists and historians.

The book suggests that we can learn as much about ancient ethical parameters from a Homeric simile, a passage of Sophocles or a throwaway comment from Thucydides as we can from the nuanced language of philosophical discourse, if we look in the right places.

The book joins the Animal Ethic series published by Palgrave Macmillan (www.palgrave.com/philosophy/animal_ethics.asp) in conjunction with the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, which recently founded the new print Journal of Animal Ethics. The photograph on the cover was taken in the Ure Museum.