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.

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