CFP: Locating Popular Culture in the Ancient World

Seen on the Classicists list:

Locating Popular Culture in the Ancient World

School of History, Classics and Archaeology
University of Edinburgh, 4-6th July 2012


While the representation of the ancient world in modern popular culture has received a great deal
of scholarly attention in recent years, ancient popular culture has generally been neglected.
However, Jerry Toner’s recent Popular Culture in Ancient Rome (Cambridge, 2009) and Nicholas
Horsfall’s The Culture of the Roman Plebs (London, 2003) have shown the possibilities offered by
this fascinating field. This conference aims to bring together scholars representing a diverse range
of subjects, interests and approaches, to explore the challenges of investigating a field ignored by
traditional classical scholarship.

Crucial questions include: Was there such a thing as popular culture in the ancient world? How can
we, as scholars, locate it? What defined it? Which themes were prominent? What are the political
implications of studying the ‘popular’ in the ancient world?

Papers are invited on a broad range of subjects related to ancient popular culture:
including (but not exclusively):

• theoretical and comparative approaches to ancient popular culture
• culture and class
• popular visual culture (e.g. graffiti, artefacts)
• popular performance (e.g. comedy, mime)
• popular literary texts (e.g. fiction, oracles, fables)
• popular religion (e.g. festivals, the role of Christianity)

Confirmed speakers include Jerry Toner, Pavlos Avlamis, Serafina Cuomo, Ray Laurence, Emanuel
Mayer, James Robson and Ruth Webb.

30-minute papers are welcomed from scholars at all stages of their career. Please send abstracts
of up to 500 words by 9th February 2012.

Please send abstracts, queries or expressions of interest to the conference organiser:

Dr Lucy Grig, Classics, University of Edinburgh

A Classicist’s Dream Home

Who wouldn’t want to live above the Theatre of Marcellus … from the Telegraph:

Palazzo Orsini, in the centre of Rome, Italy, is being sold by the family of Iris Origo, whose book about her wartime experiences in Tuscany, ‘War in the Val’D’Orcia, an Italian War Diary’, is regarded as a classic.

The asking price is thought to make it the most expensive property currently on sale in the Italian capital, and one of the most expensive in Europe.

While Rome has dozens of magnificent palaces, they often remain in the same families for centuries and it is rare for one of them to be offered for sale.

The 11,000 square foot palace includes frescoed staterooms, a ballroom, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a library, a dining room, a terrace, a separate penthouse and cellars.

The building, with a garden full of fountains and orange trees, is built on top of the still-standing stone and marble shell of the 1st century BC Theatre of Marcellus, which resembles a mini Colosseum.

“Most of the rooms look onto the garden, and there is also a long terrace that overlooks the Tiber,” said Gemma Bruce, of London-based Aylesford International, which is handling the sale. “The staterooms are very grand but the rest of the property is very homely and liveable.”

“The cellars extend right down into the ancient Roman arches,” said Ms Bruce. “They could by converted into a gym, a health spa or a wine cellar – it would be an amazing place for wine tastings.”

The daughter of an American diplomat and an Anglo-Irish peer, Dame Iris Origo was born Iris Cutting in 1902 and became a ‘marchesa’ after marrying an Italian aristocrat, Antonio Origo.

They bought an estate near Siena in Tuscany and during the war looked after refugee children and local families displaced by the fighting, as well as escaped POWs and Allied airmen who were trying to make their way through German lines.

The diary she kept of her experiences from 1943-1944 was critically acclaimed and described by a New York Times reviewer as “remarkably moving” when it was published in 1984 – four years before she died, aged 85.

The palazzo, which she rented and then bought in the 1950s, has an illustrious past.

Construction of the Theatre of Marcellus, which could seat 20,000 people, was begun by Julius Caesar but it was completed in 11BC by the emperor Augustus, who named it after his favourite nephew.

It was abandoned in the 4th century AD but later turned into a fortress and, later, into a family palazzo, constructed on the massive travertine blocks that make up the Roman theatre, known in Italian as the Teatro di Marcello.

It passed into the hands of the Orsini family, after which it is named, in the 18th century.

Reviews from BMCR

  • 2012.01.14:  Mario Geymonat, The Great Archimedes.
  • 2012.01.13:  Valeria Maria Patimo, La Pro Cluentio di Cicerone: introduzione e commento dei §§ 1 – 81. Studia classica et mediaevalia, Bd 1.
  • 2012.01.12:  Peter Jones, Aeneid I and II. Cambridge Intermediate Latin Readers.
  • 2012.01.11:  James I. Porter, The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece: Matter, Sensation, and Experience.
  • 2012.01.10:  Michael Lambert, The Classics and South African Identities. Classical Diaspora.
  • 2012.01.09:  John R. Senseney, The Art of Building in the Classical World: Vision, Craftsmanship, and Linear Perspective in Greek and Roman Architecture.
  • 2012.01.08:  Marie-France Guipponi-Gineste, Claudien: poète du monde à la cour d’Occident.
  • 2012.01.07:  David Karmon, The Ruin of the Eternal City: Antiquity and Preservation in Renaissance Rome.