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.

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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.

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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.