posted with permission:
Forgotten Stars: Rediscovering Manilius’ Astronomica. Edited by Steven J. Green and Katharina Volk. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp. xix + 342. Hardcover, £79.00/$150.00. ISBN 978-0-19-958646-2.
Reviewed by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad, Wake Forest University
(Table of contents available at http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/ acprof:oso/9780199586462.001.0001/acprof-9780199586462)
The late-Augustan didactic poet Manilius has largely been eclipsed in the passions of Anglophone classicists by his predecessors Lucretius and Vergil. This enlightening volume—a fusion of philosophical, epistemological, literary-critical, and reception-studies approaches—endeavors to correct course by gathering some of the luminaries of Latin poetry to put Manilius’ Astronomica under the telescope. From my vantage point: mission accomplished.
Space here allows only a brief flyby of the 17 contributions to this rich constellation of Manilian scholarship, while homing in on a few of the work’s brightest stars. Katharina Volk’s introduction gives a structured, thematic overview of prior scholarship, keyed to the current essays, while Elaine Fantham provides a perfunctory précis of Roman thoughts about celestial phenomena. Thomas Habinek, in a dense but worthwhile chapter, sets Astronomica up as evidence for diachronic change in Stoic physical theories, against the scholarly conventional wisdom of a static Stoic physics. Daryn Lehoux starts strong, discussing Manilius’ embrace of scientific and mythological explanations simultaneously (he’s a Stoic “consciously writing allegory,” 50) as an exemplar of ancient discourses of knowledge, but her conclusion is rather nebulous.
John Henderson, presenting Manilius in control of both material and poetics, undertakes a stellar m(i/a)croanalysis of a problematic early passage (1.215–46). No gravity here: all fun and eccentricity, showing systematic linkages between Manilian words and “worldview,” Hender.’s jargon playing up the artistic value of Manilius’. Discontinuity isn’t proof of failure in Manilius’ imagery—it is his imagery. Hend., as only He. can, blasts off on a journey t(hr)o(ugh) the cosmos, where we voyagers can observe new horizons of Maniliness and Manilian curiosity.
Wolfgang-Rainer Mann, on the same wavelength but a different trajectory, offers two instances (both focused on the didact’s implied student) where repositioning a supposed Manilian “contradiction” within the mindset of a sophisticated but non-expert Stoic resolves the issue. Mann and Henderson diverge from Volk, who sees Manilius’ contradictions as “the unintentional … by-product” of his using traditional discourses and metaphors (107)—like Lucretius, but on accident. Volk constructs a useful typology of Manilius’ inconsistencies and suggests that Roman readers may not have experienced them as such. But her argument is essentially that Manilius isn’t in control of his text—and while skirting the black hole of authorial intent, I’d say that such assessments seem inconsistent with this volume’s overarching spin on Manilius as a poet equal to his (Augustan) age.
Stephen Green’s sociopolitical reading of Manilius’ didaxis strikes me as the book’s zenith, its most provocative, innovative chapter. Green—reading, frankly, from his own subject-position—argues that Manilius deliberately constructs a lesson doomed to fail, a didactic addressee prone to despair and resistance. Why? “[T]o ensure that astrology remains an … ultimately inaccessible craft” (135), thus unthreatening to the Emperor. This resolution of the failure of Manilian didaxis is better than merely attributing it to poetic/authorial inadequacy, but I’m not yet persuaded that didactic failure equals “a subtle form of imperial propaganda” (138). Missing from Green’s argument: the “Mega nepios” anthology (MD 31) focused on the addressee in didactic, particularly Mitsis on the rocky relationship between the Lucretian didact and his addressee Memmius.
Wolfgang Hübner’s imagery study shows that Manilius’ carmen and res are very closely related—figura is both a stylistic device and an astronomical entity. Duncan Kennedy, like Lehoux, uses Astronomica as an instance of competing narratives in science historiography. He furthermore identifies Manilius’ thematic interest in “the power of mathematical ratio to realize Rome’s faltering imperial fantasy” (186). Patrick Glauthier’s well-executed word study shows Manilius depicting his poetry as the stars’ remuneration for their services (viz., influence on earthly affairs).
Monica Gale argues persuasively that formal set-piece digressions (e.g.: the Myth of Ages) become a characteristic feature of didactic in which any predecessor, not only the most recent, is (by “accretion,” 206) a valid intertext. Manilius’ “anthropology” inverts Hesiod, Lucretius, and Georgics while contrasting with Aratus; his plague and war scenes in late Book 1 invert Lucretius and extend Georgics; his version of the seasons links Roman imperium with stellar influence. All three digressions are, for Gale, markedly pro-Augustan. Josèphe-Henriette Abry (whose essay was posthumously revised by Green) sees Manilius’ Milky Way, digression on the lengths of days, and description of the inhabited world as modeled on or in dialogue with (respectively) the Forum Augustum, the Horologium, and the “Map” of Agrippa, all in an exhibition of ancestral virtue, worldly power, and imperium sine fine. In other words: cosmos reflects Roman empire. James Uden presents Manilius’ anomalously unerotic Andromeda epyllion as a “‘figurative space’, where themes and motifs from the poem can be explored and recombined in new, metaphorical forms” (236).
Enrico Flores, the first of a small-but-super cluster on the reception of Manilius, uses allusions to Astronomica in Claudian’s In Rufinum as evidence that Manilius was writing about Augustus while Augustus yet lived. Manilian verses praising Augustus serve as a fitting intertext for Claudian’s praise of the Augustus Honorius. Caroline Stark explores how Lorenzo Bonincontri and Giovanni Pontano use Manilius’ “anthropology” and epistemological views in reconciling deterministic astrology with Christian free-will doctrine. Stephan Heilen investigates Bonincontri’s modification of Manilius to make comets, though ill-omened, nevertheless a possible agent of positive moral change (by scaring people into better behavior). Heilen also produces a partial edition of Bonincontri’s commentary on his own De Rebus Naturalibus et Divinis.
All told, Forgotten Stars is an admirable collection that opens fruitful new pathways for inquiry into Manilius’ Astronomica. This book—like Manilius himself!—is required reading for scholars of ancient philosophy, didactic poetry, and Augustan literature.
I’ve almost got my inbox to zero and finally have a chance to give attention to some things that are a few weeks old. Back at the end of November, the BBC was hyping an exposeish show about David Elkington:
Questions have been raised over the claims of a self-styled archaeologist who is arguing that a set of supposedly ancient Christian books is genuine.
David Elkington, from Gloucestershire, has raised tens of thousands of pounds to support his work proving the authenticity of the Jordan Codices.
A BBC investigation found that academics have cast doubt on Mr Elkington’s claims the codices date back to the 1st Century AD.
Mr Elkington insists the codices are genuine and he will pay back any loans he has received.
Among his backers was Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, who funded his work and trips to the Middle East.
She now believes the codices are not authentic and has asked for the return of her funding.
Mr Elkington’s companies have also received thousands of pounds from investors over the years for a film project, which he says is now on hold.
He now plans to release a book about the codices, called Divine Revelation, and to produce a film based on it. He has also tried to raise sponsorship in America.
Mr Elkington, 50, claims to have previously published a “highly-acclaimed academic thesis” and to have trained under a curator of the Petrie Museum in London.
His book was a self-published work and the woman he trained under was never the curator of the Petrie museum.
He says he has a team of international experts working on the codices but was only prepared to offer the names of two academics currently advising him. They declined to comment.
The codices were found in Jordan but are currently held in Israel.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has examined some of the codices and a spokesman said: “They were shown to experts on the period; all the experts absolutely doubted their authenticity.”
The Jordanian government has yet to make an official announcement.
However, Dr Peter Thonemann, a lecturer in ancient history at Oxford University, said: “I’m as certain as it is possible to be that this entire body of codices are modern fakes. I would stake my academic reputation on it.”
Robert Feather, an author who has also seen the collection, is also sceptical about Mr Elkington’s claims the codices are ancient Christian texts.
He said: “While David Elkington continues to push the idea that these are incredibly important early Christian documents then speculation will be rife and the story will go on and on.”
In a statement, Mr Elkington and his wife said: “We acknowledge a small personal debt owed to (Princess) Elizabeth, which has never been disputed and will be paid back in full.
“David has never claimed to have had any formal qualifications and has been largely self-taught and has worked as an independent scholar. He has always been upfront about this.”
… since that time, the segment of the program (Inside Out West) has made it to Youtube and is definitely worth watching if you’ve been following this story:
In case that gets taken down, here’s the skinny/random notes I scrawled down as I watched:
- Elkington is referred to as “Gloucester’s own Indiana Jones” … the IJ epithet increasingly seems to mark out folks making outlandish claims
- Robert Feather and Elkington have had a “falling out” over how the codices were to be “exploited”
- Feather shows a couple of the codices of the 70 or so he’s seen; he doubts the authenticity of these two in particular
- Peter Thonemann is willing to stake his reputation that all of them are fakes
- Apparently Elkington accepted that verdict, but thought that others were genuine
- Elkington is clinging to the claim that the lead is old and has a team of experts
- Philip Davis of Sheffield declined to be interviewed
- Margaret Barker would only take part if she wasn’t edited in any way; the BBC declined
- then we get all the ‘death threats’ etc., that was part of the story ages ago
- Elkington was trying to raise money to get things moving
- Nice segment questioning Elkington’s self-claimed credentials
- Elkington’s “estranged son from a former marriage” comments on his father’s predeliction for story-telling and the sensationalization of the whole story
- Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia apparently has lent Elkington “tens of thousands of pounds”, but now has had a falling out as well
- Elkington declined to appear on camera but issued a statement which attempts to explain some of the discrepancies (not very well)
In other words, Elkington’s credibility seems to be completely and totally shot at this point. We should also point out that just prior to the airing of this program, a pile of photos and posts were taken down from the Jordan Codices facebook page (which undoubtedly was/is an Elkington production).
… and just to ‘catch up’ a bit more, here’s some bloggery worth reading:
- Philip Davies again on the Jordan Codices (Paleojudaica … November 4, 2012)
- More Lead Codices, More Stamps… (The Aramaic Blog … June 27, 2012)
- Jordan Codices: More About the Altered Metallurgical Report (ibid … September 14, 2011)
- Jordan Lead Codices: Another Stamp Found (The Musings of Tom Verenna … September 14, 2012)
- Remember Those Lead Codices? (September 3, 2011 … us; that should be enough)
seen on various lists:
*Tombros Librarian for Classics and Humanities*
The Pennsylvania State University Libraries
The Pennsylvania State University Libraries seek an outstanding librarian to hold the endowed faculty position of Tombros Librarian for Classics and Humanities in the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library on the University Park campus.
The Tombros Librarian for Classics and Humanities serves as a liaison subject specialist for Ancient History, Classics, Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Religious Studies and possibly other humanities disciplines by developing and managing excellent collections, providing research consultation and reference services to those studying these disciplines , providing an engaging information literacy program, participating in scholarly communication initiatives, and actively collaborating in outreach initiatives with collegiate faculty in these disciplines. The successful candidate will engage in research and scholarly publishing, demonstrate leadership at the national/international level in professional or disciplinary associations, participate actively in local, national, and international digital humanities initiatives, and collaborate effectively with colleagues in the Arts and Humanities Library and throughout the Libraries. As a senior faculty member, the appointee will provide leadership for library and university-wide initiatives. Occasional teaching of credit-bearing courses is an option. This position reports to the Head of the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library.
As an endowed faculty position, the Tombros librarianship provides ample support for programs, collection development, travel, and research. The University Libraries have extensive holdings in all areas of classical studies in general and ancient Greek civilization in particular. Because of the George P. Tombros Ancient Greek Collection, Penn State has developed a world-class collection of primary texts in ancient Greek. Other gifts, including the Tombros Libraries Endowment in Classics, support classical studies in general.
Master of Library Science degree from an ALA-accredited institution or an advanced degree in a relevant discipline; record of significant contributions in collection development and research services at an academic or research library; proficiency in Latin; substantial academic background in classical literature, history, or related disciplines; knowledge of current trends and methodologies in humanities research and scholarly communications; interest in digital humanities initiatives; excellent written, oral, and leadership skills; evidence of an established reputation in scholarly achievement; strong record of service; a desire to work in a collaborative, student-centered environment.
Additional advanced degree in one of the relevant disciplines. Knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, or other language relating to Classics Experience participating in digital humanities initiatives.
Penn State, a land-grant institution, is a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago. The Penn State University Libraries are a strategic asset to Penn State, advancing intellectual discovery, information literacy, and lifelong learning, all in support of the University’s strategic goals in teaching, research, service, and outreach. Based on current Association for Research Libraries investment rankings, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries are ranked among the top ten research libraries in North America. A student survey completed in 2010 found overall student satisfaction with the University Libraries to be at the top of its category. Collections exceed 5.8 million volumes and include more than 102,000 current serial subscriptions. The University Libraries are located at University Park and 22 other locations throughout Pennsylvania, and they serve approximately 6,000 faculty and 45,000 students at University Park, and more than 96,000 students system-wide including 12,000 students enrolled in the World Campus, the online campus of Penn State.
The University Park campus is set in the State College metropolitan area, a university town located in central Pennsylvania. State College offers a vibrant community with outstanding recreational facilities, a low crime rate, and excellent public schools. The campus is within a half-day drive to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, or Pittsburgh. The University Park Airport is served by three major carriers with flights to Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit. For more information, please visit http://www.libraries.psu.edu and http://www.cbicc.org.
Appointment and benefits:
This is a tenure-track faculty position. Based upon the University and Libraries’ standards in librarianship, research, service, and outreach, it is anticipated that the successful candidate will be appointed at the rank of Librarian with tenure. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Fringe benefits include liberal vacation, excellent insurance and health care coverage, state or TIAA/CREF retirement options, and educational privileges.
Send a letter of application or nomination, resumé, and the names and contact information of three professional references to Search Committee, The Pennsylvania State University, Box TCL-CLL, 511 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802. Applications and nominations may also be sent to lap225 AT psu.edu. Please reference Box TCL-CLL in the email subject line. Review of candidates will begin on January 29, 2013 and continue until the position is filled. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.
Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.
Beyond Words: Translation and the Classical World
Friday, March 8th, 2013
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Keynote address: Emily Wilson, University of Pennsylvania
Translation played an important role in the ancient Mediterranean, with its
lively interaction of cultures and languages, and translated texts have
long been fundamental to the continuing inﬂuence of Greece and Rome.
Careful consideration of translation in theory and practice is thus
essential for an understanding not only of the past but also of our
relationship to it as scholars and readers. Moreover, as new generations of
classicists are trained, the place of translation in the pedagogy of
ancient Greek and Latin is a pressing question, as teachers weigh the
beneﬁts and pitfalls of translation in the classroom and consider
pedagogical strategies that offer alternatives to translation.
We invite papers that investigate a range of issues surrounding translation
and the ancient Mediterranean. Since our deﬁnition of translation is broad
and inclusive — we are not limiting ourselves to words and texts — we
also welcome papers that discuss translations across media, such as Roman
“copies” of Greek statues. Abstracts can, but need not, belong to the
Translation in the ancient Mediterranean
Translation and the reception of classical cultures
Translation and the pedagogy of ancient Greek and Latin
Translation theory and classical studies
We welcome submissions from graduate students representing various
disciplines, including classics, comparative literature, linguistics,
history, art history, archeology, religion, philosophy and education. We
ask that you submit an anonymous abstract of no more than 300 words as an
attachment to cunytranslation AT gmail.com by December 31st, 2012. Please
include in the body of your email your name and university afﬁliation as
well as your phone number and the email address at which you can best be
reached. Notiﬁcations will be sent out by January 20th, 2013. Questions may
be addressed to conference chairs Tim Hanford and Scott Weiss at
cunytranslation AT gmail.com.
Seen on the Classicists list:
Tracking Hermes/Mercury: An interdisciplinary conference at the University of Virginia, March 27–29,
Keynote speakers: Henk Versnel (Leiden), H. Alan Shapiro (Johns Hopkins), Joseph Farrell (Penn), and
Deborah Boedeker (Brown).
Of all the divinities of classical antiquity, the Greek Hermes (= Roman Mercury) is the most versatile,
complex, and ambiguous. His functions embrace both the marking of boundaries and their
transgression, commerce and theft, rhetoric and practical jokes; he also plays the role of mediator
between all realms of human and divine activity, embracing heaven, earth and the netherworld.
This conference at the University of Virginia aims to bring together scholars of Greek and Roman
religion, art, literature, and history to assess this wide-ranging figure. We hope also to include
attention to early reception of the god and his myths outside of Greece and Rome proper—for
instance, Hermes as the Egyptian Thoth, the worship of Mercury in syncretistic forms in Rome’s
imperial provinces, and allegorical interpretations of the god in late ancient and early medieval
If you are interested in presenting a paper (20 minutes), please send an abstract of approximately
500 words by February 1, 2013.
Abstracts or requests for information may be sent to one of the organizers:
John F. Miller (jfm4j AT virginia.edu)
Jenny Strauss Clay (jsc2t AT virginia.edu)
It is our hope to furnish lodging and meals for all presenters at the conference.
seen on the Classicists list:
The Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric (COR), Royal Holloway, University of
London, announces an international conference entitled From Antiphon to
Autocue: Speechwriting Ancient and Modern to take place at RHUL’s central
London venue in Bedford Square on 25 and 26 of April 2013.
Confirmed speakers include experts on ancient Greek and Roman logography
and oratory: Prof. Chris Carey (UCL), Prof. Mike Edwards (Lampeter), Prof.
Michael Gagarin (Texas), Prof. Catherine Steel (Glasgow). They will be
joined by an expert on modern media and communications, Professor Andrew
Tolson (De Montfort), and a modern speechwriter, Simon Lancaster.
We welcome proposals for papers on any aspect of speechwriting ancient,
medieval, or modern (30-40 mins. duration). Please send your proposal to
antiphon2autocue AT gmail.com by 31 January 2013 at the latest.
seen on the Classicists list:
The UCL Classical Drama Society and the Department of Greek and Latin, in association with the Bloomsbury Theatre, present the 2013 Classical Play:
Euripides’ Trojan Women
Directed by Rebecca Speller
Translation by Alan Shapiro
Tues 5th February at 7.30pm
Wed 6th February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Thu 7th February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Ancient Plays for Modern Minds: A Public Engagement Programme
To complement the production of Trojan Women, the UCL Department of Greek & Latin shall be offering a series of talks and workshops which aim to illuminate the play and its context and to bring Euripides to life for a modern generation. This exciting programme includes talks by academic experts on ancient drama and its reception, as well as interactive workshops by contemporary theatre practitioners. There are events on every day of the play’s performance, and each talk or workshop deals with an important angle of interpreting or performing the play. All of our speakers have experience in working with schools, and the events will be suitable for students of Classics, Classical Studies, and Drama, as well as accessible to those without prior experience of Greek drama.
In 2013 we will be offering the following events:
Tuesday 5th February
3.15-5.15pm – Participatory Workshop: David Stuttard: ‘What’s Hecuba to Him?’
6.00-7.00pm – Public Talk by Professor Simon Goldhill (Cambridge)
Wednesday 6th February
3.15-5.15pm – Participatory Workshop: Russell Bender: ‘Physical Approaches to the Greek Chorus’
6.00-7.00pm – Public Talk by Professor Chris Carey (UCL)
Thursday 7th February
3.15-5.15pm – Participatory Workshop: Deborah Pugh: ‘Pushing The Space in Choral Work’
6.00-7.00pm – Public Talk by Dr Rosa Andújar (UCL)
All events are free of charge and open to all. However, the participatory nature of the workshops means that space is limited, and pre-booking is therefore essential. We would also recommend pre-booking for the lectures, in order to avoid potential disappointment on the day: please reserve places for your group by emailing Dr Rosa Andújar at r.andujar AT ucl.ac.uk. The workshops will last approximately 2 hours; the talks will last approximately 45 minutes, with time for questions at the end. Please note that workshop participants should be aged 16 and above.
For more information, including venue information for each event, please visit our website:
Tickets are available on the Bloomsbury Theatre website:
seen on the Classics list:
The Classical Summer School of the American Academy in Rome is now taking applications for the 2013 program. The six-week, intensive program in the history, archaeology, and topography of Ancient Rome is open to graduate students of classics, ancient history, and art history, secondary school teachers of Latin and related subjects, and advanced undergraduate students. More information on the program (and available scholarships) can be found on the AAR’s website, http://aarome.org/apply/summer-programs-0.
Please note that this year the application is online. Instructions and link are provided on the AAR website. The deadline for applying to the Classical Summer School is January 18, 2013. However, some scholarship deadlines are earlier.
seen on the Classicists list:
The Reception of Greek and Roman Culture in East Asia:
Texts & Artefacts, Institutions & Practices
Thursday, 4 July 2013 – Saturday, 6 July 2013
Venue: Freie Universität Berlin
Over the past decade, scholars have examined the reception of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures around the globe. This has been done by analyzing the role of ancient Mediterranean culture in a variety of cultural instances; for example post-antique texts and images, ideology and institutions, as well as rituals and practices. The research has been wide-ranging, including examinations, for instance, of Greek tragedy in 20th-century African theatre and Latin poetry in colonial Mexico. Still there has not yet been a project dedicated solely to the reception of Greece and Rome in East Asia, despite tantalizing clues concerning the wealth of material available for investigation: from the Isopo Monogatari (伊曾保物語), a 16th-century Japanese edition of Aesop’s Fables, to a theatrical season in Beijing in July 2012 directed by the famed Li Liuyi that included both Sophocles’ Antigone (安提戈涅) and the Tibetan epic King Gesar (格萨尔王).
This conference will explore the reception(s) of Greek and Roman culture in East Asia from antiquity to the present. In particular, we are interested in the question of how and why ancient Greek and Roman texts, images, and material cultures and the knowledge and ideas contained within them have been adapted and refigured in East Asian texts, imagery, and cultural artefacts. We are also, however, eager for papers on the teaching of Greek and Latin in schools and the history of ancient studies at universities as well as other institutions. In addition, we welcome papers on historical examples of intercultural contact from the early precursors of the Silk Road to the arrival of Jesuit missionaries; as well as on the impact of ancient beliefs and ideas on cultural practices in East Asia including, for example, religious communities of recent origin which incorporate ancient gods and heroes. The conference will seek to further the dialogue of Reception Studies to include not only past and present but also “East” and “West.”
The ever-growing complexity of the relationship (economically, politically, and culturally) between East Asia and the “West” makes the study of the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in East Asian cultures particularly relevant and timely. Since “Western” culture’s self-conception begins in Europe with ancient Greece and ancient Rome, the reception of ancient Greco-Roman cultures in East Asia provides an excellent point of reference for current intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogues in an increasingly globalizing world. This conference aims to explore this point of reference by bringing together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners (performing artists, writers, visual artists, and those working in theatres and museums) to analyze the many diverse aspects of the reception of Greek and Roman culture in East Asia.
We invite papers from a variety of disciplines, especially: • Ancient and Modern History and Philology; • Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Religious Studies; • Theatre, Film and Media Studies, Art History; • Philosophy, Theology, and Political Science.
In addition to papers from scholars, we welcome contributions by those working in the arts and cultural sector. Papers are expected to be 20-25 minutes in length with 5-10 minutes for questions immediately following. The conference will be held in English. We aim to publish selected papers from the conference in an anthology.
To be considered, please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words and a biography of no more than 50 words to the below email address by 30 January 2013. Please note that text in non-Latin script should be accompanied by a transliteration alongside in the body of the proposal. Any further questions can be directed to the following email address: greeceandromeinasia AT gmail.com.
We are looking forward to an inspiring conference and lively discussion!
Prof. Dr. Almut-Barbara Renger (Freie Universität Berlin) & Dr. Katie Billotte
seen on the Classicists list:
Psychogeographies in Latin Literature.
London, 8-9 July 2013
Conference organised jointly by the Department of Classics, KCL and the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome, Royal Holloway, University of London
Far from mere dots on a map, places are products of the interrelationship of humans and their natural environment. They are constructs in a material environment, having a materiality as products, but they also have a producing capacity in the interaction between person and place. That interaction is multi-sensory, but often represented in narrative, sets of stories that make a place and embed a place in time and collective experience. That experience and interaction with place creates psychogeography.
The experience of urban spaces, with their itineraries, neighbourhoods, monuments, gardens, theatres and crowds are important to authors as diverse as Ovid, Tacitus, Martial, Juvenal, Catullus, Horace and Cicero. Genres such as satire, comedy, epigram and elegy have their own particular orientations to space. For some authors it is itineraries, and for others (Pliny, Statius, Lucretius) it is the views and vistas that matter. Public spaces are reclaimed for other uses by Ovid, and viewed with suspicion by Seneca, while imperial space is contained and framed in the Odes of Horace. The cubiculum, the forum, the trivium, the Via Sacra and other locations all have their own topoi and associations. Literary works create their own models of space (closure, enjambement, digression and the like). How do these ‘spatial’ aspects of the literary work relate to, or even compete with, exterior spaces? And how can work in other areas of classical studies (archaeology, art, history) be brought to bear on literary texts?
Modern theoretical work has also offered multiple possible ways in which to reinvigorate our perceptions and reception of the spatial in literature. For example, the distinction between space (espace) and place as a locale (lieu), central to Michel de Certeau’s work, allows distance to be generated between the stable reception of meanings generated from a hegemonic political culture and the enacted meanings that are performed at street level. Similarly, perceived spaces, as Henri Lefebvre suggests, are laden with socio-political significance, and they can be deployed to challenge mainstream strategies of meaning by, for instance, rendering places of ceremony and order into sites for the performance of pleasure and carnival, and subverting official monuments with unorthodox cultural memories. Iconic amongst those strands of scholarship that seek to reenergise the reader’s relationship with space in literature is the figure of the flâneur (as reflected by Walter Benjamin), the stroller in the city, or away from it, who re-imagines space through often aberrant itineraries.
This conference will bring together scholars interested in all aspects of this topic to share different kinds of material and approaches and to discus the agendas and potential of this topic as a whole.
Confirmed speakers include:
Richard Alston (RHUL), Catherine Edwards (Birkbeck), Therese Fuhrer (Berlin), Jared Hudson (Berkeley), David Larmour (Texas Tech), Maxine Lewis (Auckland), Ellen Oliensis (Berkeley), Shreyaa Patel (RHUL), Victoria Rimell (Rome), Diana Spencer (Birmingham), Efi Spentzou (RHUL),
William Fitzgerald (william.fitzgerald AT kcl.ac.uk)
Efi Spentzou (e.spentzou AT rhul.ac.uk)
The Smarthistory folks give it a look:
You know it’s going to be a strange day when the most responsible coverage of a major find is from the Daily Mail … here are the pertinent bits:
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Roman theatre – dating back 2,000 years.
Dr Paul Wilkinson, founder of the Kent Archaeological Field School, believes it is the first of its kind to be found in Britain.
The theatre with a nearly circular cockpit-style orchestra, which would have seated 12,000 people. It was found in Faversham, Kent – just behind Dr Wilkinson’s back garden where his field school is based.
The site shows activity dating back to the Bronze Age, but it is the Roman theatre – which would have been used for religious occasions – that has really excited history buffs.
Dr Wilkinson is fighting to preserve the unique find for future generations and has applied for it to become an ancient monument site.
He said: ‘It really is an amazing find, the first one in Britain, and it is just beyond my garden. This is a unique and wonderful discovery, not only for Faversham but for all of Britain.
‘The theatre could have held 12,000 people and we are going to request for it to become an ancient monument site because it is so important and we can preserve it for future generations.
‘It would have been a religious sanctuary for the Romans. They would have held religious festivals there. It is called a cockpit theatre.
‘There are 150 of them in northern Europe, but none in Britain until now. We were not expecting it.’
Investigations began on the land back in 2007, but the results have only just been released. A cockpit theatre had a large nearly circular orchestra with a narrow stage set much further back than in traditional theatres.
Dr Wilkinson believes the site is the only known example in Britain of a Roman rural religious sanctuary, with a theatre actually built into the hillside. Two temple enclosures were found near by as well as a sacred spring.
Durolevum was the name the Romans gave to Faversham, and means ‘the stronghold by the clear stream.’
English Heritage spokesman Debbie Hickman said: ‘If the full analysis of the results does confirm that the site on the outskirts of Faversham is a Roman rural theatre, it would be a most remarkable find.’
Dr Wilkinson has led archaeological digs in Kent for more than a decade. In September he led a team that found an ancient ceremonial site the size of Stonehenge on the North Downs. [...]
- via: Unique 2,000-year-old Roman theatre discovered in back garden of archaeological school (Daily Mail)
The piece goes on to talk about the henge stuff … there are also some photos from the dig which are somewhat difficult to make sense of (seats? supports for seats?)
In any event, I’m not sure who was doing the rewriting or whatever for Yahoo and the piles of spinoffs in various Indian newspapers, but here’s the headline that almost made me spew my caramel latte all over my screen:
Bronge Age Roman theatre discovered in UK
… and so, of course, I figured it was the usual case of a headline writer having his/her way — headlines often don’t get seen by editors, near as I can tell — but nooooooooo:
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a huge Bronze Age Roman theatre ~ dating back 2,000 years ~ buried in a school garden in the UK. [...]
- via: Bronge Age Roman theatre discovered in UK (Statesman)
… which, of course, made it into the Press Trust of India pool and we see:
- ‘Bronge Age Roman theatre discovered in UK’ (Business Standard)
- Bronze Age Roman theatre discovered in UK (Lahore Times)
- ”Bronze Age Roman theatre discovered in UK” (MSN India … not sure if the scare quotes are intentional)
- avidity (Dictionary.com)
- debilitate (Merriam Webster)
- abjure (Wordsmith)
- dissentient (Worthless)
- uropygium (Wordnik)
ante diem vii kalendas januarias
- 1853 — birth of Wilhelm Dorpfeld (exavator of Troy)
- 1890 — death of Heinrich Schliemann (ditto)