CONF: Sympotic Poetry

Seen on the Classicists list (please direct any queries to the folks mentioned in the item and not to rogueclassicism):


Christ Church, Oxford

Thursday March 31st – Saturday April 2nd 2011

The symposiast’s couch is a key vantage-point from which to survey Greek poetry. Poetry was performed at the symposium from the beginnings of Greek literature (judging from the sympotic traces in Homer) down to the fourth century and probably into Hellenistic times. Even later, echoes of the sympotic setting are exploited in literary games of generic appropriation. This conference proposes to examine the symposium both as a setting for the performance of poetry and as a ‘mental space’ rich in aesthetic, social, and political implications. What does it mean in practice to speak of ‘sympotic poetry’? How does the symposium as a performance context shape and cut across generic conventions? Are there conventions of sympotic song and, if so, what are they? How should we disentangle the symposium as the setting for poetry from the symposium as the imaginary place which is the product, rather than the precondition, of this poetry? How does the historical symposium in its various aspects (a politically defined group of people, a means of socialization derived from Near Eastern cultures, a carefully regulated set of customs, etc.) relate to the symposium as a setting for the competitive display of artistic competence, where something akin to literary criticism first begins? What is the role of the symposion in the early institution of corpora and canonisation of texts? How did sympotic performance affect transmission?

With the support of the Classics Faculty Board, the John Fell OUP Fund, the Craven Committee, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and the Classical Association.


Thursday 31st March

Session 1 Chair: tbc

14.00 – 15.00 Dr. Felix Budelmann (Magdalen College, Oxford) and Prof. Timothy Power (Rutgers University): ‘Song and Speech in the Symposium’

15.00 – 16.00 Dr. Dirk Obbink (Christ Church, Oxford): ‘Writing and the Symposium’

Session 2 Chair: Enrico Prodi16.30 – 17.30 Prof. Ewen Bowie (Corpus Christi College, Oxford): ‘Quo usque tandem…? Reflections on the Length of Sympotic Poems’

17.30 – 18.30 Prof. Gauthier Liberman (Institut Ausonius, Université Bordeaux 3): ‘Some Thoughts on the Symposiastic Catena’

18.30 Drinks receptionFriday 1st April

Session 3 Chair: Dr. Penelope Murray9.30 – 10.30 Prof. Ralph Rosen (University of Pennsylvania): ‘Satire, Symposia, and the Formation of Poetic Genre’

11.00 – 12.00 Dr. Renaud Gagné (Pembroke College, Cambridge): ‘Metasympotics: Embedding Context in Elegiac and Iambic Poetry’

12.00 – 13.00 Prof. Guy Hedreen (Williams College): ‘Portrait of the Artist in a Sympotic Context’

Session 4 Chair: Vanessa Cazzato
14.30 – 15.30 Prof. Deborah Steiner (Columbia University): ‘Swallow this: Reading the Bird in Sympotic Visual Culture’

15.30 – 16.30 Prof. Hans Bernsdorff (Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main): ‘A Use of Myth in Sympotic Poetry’

17.00 – 18.00 Prof. Simon Hornblower (All Souls College, Oxford):‘Menedemos or Kassandra? The two Poets called Lykophron and Sympotic versus other Hellenistic Types of Performance’

19.30 Conference dinner – Symposiarch: Oswyn Murray

Saturday 2nd April

Session 5 Chair: Dr. Bruno Currie9.30 – 10.30 Prof. Ettore Cingano (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia): ‘Exploring Sympotic Settings: Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides’

11.00 – 12.00 Prof. Lucia Athanassaki (Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης): ‘Pindaric Symposium’

12.00 – 13.00 Prof. Giambattista D’Alessio (King’s College, London): ‘Bacchylides’ Sympotic Songs’

Session 6 Chair: Dr. Dirk Obbink14.30 – 15.30 Prof. Ian Rutherford (University of Reading): ‘Comparative Symposiastics’

15.30 – 16.30 Prof. Richard Hunter (Trinity College, Cambridge): ‘Imagining the Symposium: Homer, Theognis, Plutarch’

17.00 – 18.00 Prof. Gregory Hutchinson (Exeter College, Oxford): ‘Hierarchies and Symposiastic Poetry, Greek and Latin’


Registration is now open online here.

Full rate: £50Reduced rate: £35 (for students/unwaged)

One-day full rate: £20

One-day reduced rate: £15

The deadline for registering is February 28th.

CFP: Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient Drama from Late Antiquity to 1550

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Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient drama from late antiquity to 1550

The University of Melbourne: 13th to 15th July 2011

Convenors: Andrew Turner, Giulia Torello Hill

In 2011 the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Queensland, will host an international conference with the title Text, Illustration, Revival: Ancient drama from late antiquity to 1550. Illustrated manuscripts of classical authors often transmitted an insight for much later readers into how ancient illustrators (and thus audiences) visualized these works, but also provided current reinterpretations of the texts. Both tendencies are best exemplified in a cycle of illustrations to the plays of Terence, which provides an almost unbroken continuum from the Carolingian era through to the dawn of the age of printing. But despite the fact that these illustrations represented the action on stage, even down to details of masks and props, there is no evidence at all that the plays were performed in the mediaeval period—they were simply literary texts, to be studied and at the most recited by a lector. Rather, revivals of the Classics on stage began in the Italian Renaissance, and the theoretical knowledge which critics gleaned from writers like Vitruvius were poured back into the illustrated tradition, providing an extraordinary amalgam of ancient and ‘modern’. This conference will explore the connections between text, illustration, and revival.

Confirmed speakers so far include Gianni Guastella (University of Siena), who has written several seminal publications on the reception of Roman comedy in the Italian Renaissance, Dorota Dutsch (University of California, Santa Barbara), author of Feminine Discourses in Roman Comedy (Oxford 2008), who has most recently been investigating the semiotics of gesture in the illustrated Terence manuscripts; and Bernard Muir (University of Melbourne), a world authority on the digitization of manuscripts, who has published extensively on Latin palaeography and on the mediaeval transmission of texts, and who most recently, with Andrew Turner, is the editor of a digital facsimile of a 12th-century manuscript of Terence from Oxford (Terence’s Comedies, Bodleian Digital Texts 2, Oxford 2010). We are hopeful that selected proceedings will eventually be published following the conference.

You are now invited to submit proposals for papers (lasting 30 minutes). We are particularly interested in submissions on the following topics, although we will look at other submissions on the broad area of classical drama between Late Antiquity and 1550 sympathetically.

• The manuscript traditions of the classical dramatists;

• Mediaeval scholia and commentary traditions;

• Illustrations of drama in the manuscript and early printed traditions;

• The physical environment of performances of ancient drama;

• Reception and translation of Greek dramatists in the West before 1550.

The deadline for submission of a title and an abstract of 100 words is 25th February 2011. We intend establishing a web site early next year which will progressively include information on the conference, registration, and accommodation. For the meantime, please direct any enquiries (including proposals for papers), to:

Andrew Turner

Classics and Archaeology Programme

Old Quadrangle Building

The University of Melbourne, 3010, AUSTRALIA

or email to: ajturner AT