Latin in the Globe

Wow … what bills itself as “Canada’s National Newspaper” (we Westerners were always skeptical of such)  incipits a piece thusly:

Word play occurs in unexpected places. Diane Lane, while promoting her recent movie Nights in Rodanthe, branched into a brief discussion of “cide.” “To decide is a great word,” she said, “because it’s like fratricide, matricide, suicide. It means to kill one idea so another idea can live. You de-cide.”

That might seem an odd parallel, but Lane is right about the common origin. The Latin verb was decidere, combining the prefix de (off or down) and caedere (to cut or strike). In making a decision, a person figuratively slices through the alternatives, lopping off the unwanted ones. A split decision – in which some people decide that one person won, and others insist that another won – is particularly nasty, since there’s a splitting of a cutting.

It continues …

CONF: Comic Interations


Friday 17 – Saturday 18 July 2009
Department of Greek and Latin, UCL, and the Institute of Classical Studies

A conference sponsored by the British Academy, the Institute of Classical
Studies, and the Department of Greek and Latin.

Speakers: Eric Csapo, Chris Carey, Edith Hall, Stephen Halliwell, Nick Lowe,
Regine May, Lucia Prauscello, Richard Rawles, Martin Revermann, Ralph Rosen,
Alan Sommerstein, Michael Silk, Mario Telò, Emmanuela Bakola

One of the defining features of ancient comedy is its self-conscious
dialogue with other literary genres. Greek comedy constantly negotiates its
position among other genres and through its literary affiliations with them
absorbs and reflects popular ideas, ethical values, and socio-political
practices. Scholarly attention has so far been limited to comedy’s
indebtedness to single literary genres conceived as isolated tesserae of a
lost mosaic (tragedy, iambos, lyric, satyr drama) and to isolated influences
of comedy on other genres, especially tragedy.

The intention of the international conference ‘Comic Interactions: Comedy
across Genres and Genres in Comedy’ is to explore new perspectives in the
working of such influence in both directions. Papers will focus both on how
the generic microcosms were re-staged and showcased by comedy as it evolved
during the fifth and fourth centuries BC, and on how comedy was
conceptualized and received at the other end by these other genres during
antiquity. This will allow us to chart the perceived literary and social
changes in the concept of comedy as a ‘genre’ and at the same time to gauge
the extent to which comedy itself reflects and handles these changes.

Papers will engage with comedy’s dialogue with early iambic poetry, choral
lyric, epic, the fable tradition, tragedy; they will also explore its
reception in Roman satire and the novel.

The conference is open to the public. Location: Gordon House 106, 29 Gordon
Square, London WC1H 0PP.

For enquiries, please contact the organisers: Emmanuela Bakola
(e.bakola AT, Lucia Prauscello (lp306 AT, Mario Telò
(mtelo AT

CONF: Inscriptions and Their Uses in Ancient Literature


25-26TH JUNE 2009

Booking is now open for this conference, which aims to explore the possibilities which the literary record of ancient inscriptions offer both to those interested in understanding ancient attitudes towards inscriptions and to those interested in exploring the broader relationship (and overlaps) between epigraphical and non-epigraphical modes of expression from a range of literary, historical and epigraphical angles.

Full details, including the conference programme and booking form, are available here:
There is a conference fee of £30, to cover tea, coffee and lunch on both days.  The deadline for registration is 31st May 2009.

Thanks to the generous support of the Classical Association and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies we are able to offer four bursaries to postgraduate students wishing to attend the conference. Bursaries will cover the conference fee and up to two nights’ accommodation in Manchester.  Those interested in applying should send to polly.low AT a brief (c.250 word) statement  explaining how attendance at the conference would contribute to their research, and should also ask their supervisor (or other appropriate referee) to send a short statement of support to the same address. The deadline for applications for these bursaries is 30th April 2009.

CFP: Identity and Identification in Antiquity

Supplementary Call for Papers

Identity and Identification in Antiquity

International conference organised by:
Department of Classical Studies, Bar-Ilan University
College of Law, Florida International University
SECL, Classical and Archaeological Studies, University of Kent

College of Law, Florida International University, Miami, USA
Tuesday 7 April to Thursday 9 April 2009
Supplementary call for papers, submission of abstracts by 7 March 2009
Further information? (update in progress)


Identity in modern society, especially over the last few decades, has once again become an increasingly hotly debated topic, engaging social scientists and historians, politicians and religious leaders, journalists and opinion makers–but also the general public. Much of the contemporary debate is focused on three key issues: race, religion and gender. Some of the controversies stirred up in these fields have spilled over into academic ancient history, where consequently the terms of the discussion have often been defined by the issues and trends in contemporary discourse.

Ancient historians, more often than not, have adopted a reactive rather than a proactive stance, not only during the “renaissance” of identity in the late 20th century, but already during the inception of modern nationalism, when ancient history had first been pressed into service to shore up newly emerging identities. Some of the new and alien identity concepts imported into ancient history then, have proven to be surprisingly long-lived. It has taken until 2006 for instance for a major academic monograph (Walter Goffart Barbarian Tides) to explicitly state that there were no “Germans” in antiquity. The academic struggle to eradicate modern European national identies from the ancient world in which they were so firmly implanted by 19th and 20th century historians, responding to the imperatives of political opportunity and conviction, is far from over.

More recently ancient historians have again been “wrong-footed” by the contemporary debate on identity. The discussion of race in antiquity for instance has been rekindled by Martin Bernal’s 1987 publication Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, that is, by the works of a modern Oriental historian. Gender history in antiquity–from its invention a modern history concept–has received much of its early momentum from Sarah Pomeroy’s 1975 Goddesses, whores, wives and slaves: women in classical antiquity. Pomeroy, no doubt, is a classicist, but her work is very self-consciously inspired by modern feminism. In the field of religion one could cite Peter Schäfer’s Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World, published in 1997, a work which explicitly sets out to find the origins of a modern religious conflict in antiquity.

The conference proposes to revisit the question of identity in antiquity from the point of view of the ancient historian. Rather than following a contemporary agenda–were Athenians sexist? – did Romans hate Jews?–we hope to organise discussions which look at identity as a concept embedded in ancient societies: which types of identity are operational in Greco-Roman antiquity, and how and by whom are they defined? As a second theme, however, we wish to advance our understanding of how and why especially ancient history has on various occasions served to supply modern identities with a distinguished past to which otherwise they could not aspire.

Confirmed speakers

Fabienne Colas-Rannou, Université Bordeaux 3, Ausonius
Shimon Epstein, Bar-Ilan University
John Karl Evans, University of Minnesota
Christelle Fischer-Bovet, University of California, Berkeley
Judith Fletcher, Wilfried Laurier University
Dominic Galante, University of Pennsylvania
Shelley Hales, University of Bristol
Judith Hallett, University of Maryland
Arthur Keaveney, University of Kent
Benjamin Lazarus, University of Oxford
Corinne Le Sergent, Université des Antilles et de la Guyane
JoAnn Delmonico Luhrs, Brooklyn College
Geoffrey Nathan, University of New South Wales
Daniel Orrells, University of Warwick
Efstathia Papadodima, University of Texas, Austin
Judith Perkins, Saint Joseph College
Valentin Petroussenko, University of Plovdiv
Mark Thatcher, Brown University
Edmund Thomas, Durham University
Hannibal Travis, Florida International University


This supplementary call for papers is motivated by the change of venue for the conference, moved from the University of the Antilles and Guyane in Martinique to Florida International University in Miami. This change has made it impossible for some of the originally confirmed speakers to attend. However it is the hope of the organisers that the same change of venue may allow some potentially interested collegues to attend for whom Martinique has not been possible.

Papers should aim for a presentation time of 20 to 25 minutes, with 5 to 10 minutes of discussion. Abstracts should be submitted in English for publication on the conference web site, but papers themselves may be presented also in either French or Spanish (in which case the provision of an extended abstract in English for circulation before the conference is advised).

Propositions for papers by graduate students (or advanced undergraduate students) are welcomed by the organisers.

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words in length, stating clearly the title of the paper and outline the main arguments of the presentation. Clarity is important as the organisers will assemble thematic panels on the basis of the abstracts. Abstracts must be received by Saturday 7 March 2009. Speakers will notified of the acceptance of their paper by Monday 9 March 2009. The submission of an abstract shall constitute a commitment to attend the conference; no paper will be communicated in the absence of its author.

Themes and chronological limits

The following is meant to be guidelines for papers and can in some instances be interpreted liberally.

Papers should deal with identity and identification of individuals, groups or communities within the confines of Mediterranean antiquity, from the archaic Greek period to late antiquity (late antiquity to be understood in its modern definition, including the early barbarian successor states). Papers dealing with the use of classical, ancient models of identity (real or imaginary) to identify modern individuals, groups or communities obviously do not fall within these restrictions on time-frame.

The organisers would suggest the following thematic fields, but are open to propositions which while not falling within these themes fit the general topic of the conference:

– Types of identity in antiquity: definition and use
– Representation of identity: literary, graphic, other
– Citizen identity versus ethnic, cultural and religious identities
– State identity versus group, class and community identities
– Class identity versus formal and group identities
– Construction of new identities in antiquity
– Individual identity versus group and community identities
– Gender and identity: individual and collective
– Religion and identity: individual and collective
– Race and identity: individual and collective
– Classical models for modern identity
– Use of “antiquity” to invent modern identities
– Application of modern models of identity to the ancient world

Submission of abstracts

Abstracts should be emailed to Hartmut Ziche, University of the Antilles and Guyane, e-mail: hgz1000 AT, before 7 March 2009.