Circumundique ~ A Few More

… still catching up:

Ovid in L’Osservatore Romano

Some rather turgid prose — and it seems incomplete (?) — from the culture pages of L’Osservatore:

A classical author, if he truly has all the trappings of classicism, raises “a monument more enduring than bronze”, according to the proud assertion of Horace (Ode 3.30.1). He is contemporary in every age, and therefore also our contemporary. He might even be considered, citing an acute reflection by Giuseppe Pontiggia, a “contemporary of the future”.

One such auctor and an opus magnum of Latin literature that has solidly settled within the dimensions of our present, and is projected into our future, is Publius Ovidius Naso (Sulma, 43 BC – Tomis, Ponto Eusino, 17/18 AD) and his masterpiece, Metamorphoses. Having crossed the threshold of another decade in the 21st century, we see today concretized in the intensity of philological studies and publications in abundance the prophetic intuition of the insatiable reader-hermeneutic of the Classics, Italo Calvino. In his now legendary Lezioni americane (Garzanti, 1988), accompanied by the meaningful subtitle [which is the title it was published under in its English translation] Six Memos for the Next Millenium, Calvino favoured, since Latin works were fated to influence the cultural climate of the Third Millenium, Lucretius’ De rerum natura, and with warmer emphasis, the very Metamorphoses of Ovid. It is known that the five “values or qualities or specificities” held up by the Ligurian writer as paradigms on which the “trust in the future of literature” should be founded are: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity. It is no coincidence that two of these categories, lightness and multiplicity, are chosen by his predecessor the metamorphic Ovid.

For the ancient poet from Abruzzo, the hour of redemption and of full recovery to the summit has struck, which is his due, after the centuries of gloom that followed the judgment of the penumbra of Seneca and Quintilian who will rebuke him for insufficient self control in the discipline of the font of his exuberant ingenium. Of course, attendance in the school of long discourses was fashionable in Rome during the Augustan period that had made of Ovid, already naturally endowed with an inexhaustible vein of imagination, an artist of carved by rhetoric. Governed by refined technique, thought, passion and feelings, often superficial or strictly emotional, the verses are in the form of an elegiac couplet (hexameter + pentameter) with fluidity, flexibility and amazingly melodic. Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos, / et quod temptabam dicere versus erat, “But verse came, of itself, in the right measures, / and whatever I tried to write was poetry”, he recalled during his exile to the Black Sea (Tristia IV 10, vv. 25-26).

Academic Minute: Elizabeth Markovits on Greek Tragedy

One (of many) which I’ve neglected posting … Carl Sandler Berkowitz alerted us to WAMC’s ‘Academic Minute’ and way back in July, well, here’s the official description:

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Elizabeth Markovits of Mount Holyoke College explains a striking similarity between the plot elements that define Greek tragedy and the democratic process.

Elizabeth Markovits is an assistant professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College where her research interests include ancient Greek political thought, modern feminism, and democratic theory. In 2008 she published The Politics of Sincerity: Plato, Frank Speech, and Democratic Judgment.

You can listen online at:

CFP: TiGA – Theory in (Ancient) Greek Archaeology

From Dan Diffendale:

Theory in (Ancient) Greek Archaeology (TiGA): The University of

Michigan, Ann Arbor, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th May 2012

The organizing committee at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is
pleased to announce a conference on Theory in (Ancient) Greek
Archaeology (TiGA). This event is intended to offer an opportunity to
explore approaches to the archaeology of the ancient Greek world which
are informed by explicitly theoretical frameworks. We invite
expressions of interest in participating from both established
scholars and graduate students.

Our goal is to highlight certain changes which have been taking place,
often unacknowledged, in the study of ancient Greek archaeology. In
recent years, colleagues in Aegean prehistory and Roman archaeology
have placed increasing emphasis on overtly theoretical approaches,
informed by discourse primarily in the social sciences and in
historical archaeology. A variety of conferences have facilitated this
development, providing fora for exchange of ideas. While
archaeologists of ancient Greece have not ignored these developments,
there is a widely-held perception that, as a field, we have been slow
to put comparable ideas into practice. This is partly because we have
lacked a venue for discussion of theoretical issues in relation to our
data. TiGA is intended to fill that gap: while not in any way wishing
to devalue empirical approaches, our specific aim is to offer
archaeologists studying the ancient Greek world an opportunity to
discuss the potential benefits of overtly theoretical frameworks for
enhancing our understanding of ancient Greek society and culture.

Call for Papers:

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers or for posters which explore
the potential benefits of well-articulated theoretical concepts in the
context of data-sets from the ancient Greek world. (We define ‘ancient
Greek world’ to encompass material which might be viewed as
culturally-Greek, from anywhere in the Mediterranean, dating from the
period ca. 1000 BCE to mid second century BCE – while also allowing
that such boundaries are often imprecise and permeable).

Abstracts should be 500-600 words in length and should show clearly
how the authors propose to address the goals of the conference. To
facilitate the refereeing process, please include a separate cover
page giving your name, affiliation and poster or paper title. Your
abstract should include only your title and no other identifying

Submissions may be emailed as PDF attachments to: tiga-conf AT

Alternatively, they may be sent to:
TiGA Conference,
Department of Classical Studies,
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,
1260 Angell Hall,
436 S. State St.,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (USA)

Review of proposed contributions by the organizing committee will
begin on 1st October 2011 and will continue until all slots are filled
(please refer to the conference website for up-to-date announcements):

CFP: Virgil and Renaissance Culture

Seen on the Classicists list:


Virgil and Renaissance Culture / Virgilio e la cultura del Rinascimento

A two-day international conference to be held at the Accademia Nazionale Virgiliana di Scienze Lettere e Arti, Mantua, Italy, 15-16 October 2012

Organisers: Luke Houghton (University of Glasgow), Marco Sgarbi (University of Verona)

Confirmed keynote speakers: Craig Kallendorf (Texas A&M University) and Peter Mack (The Warburg Institute)

Et quis, io, iuvenes, tanti miracula lustrans
eloquii, non se immensos terraeque marisque
prospectare putet tractus?

(Angelo Poliziano, Manto 351-3)

For scholars and intellectuals of the Renaissance, the poetry of Virgil was not merely a pervasive presence in their world; it was in many respects an embodiment of that world. In addition to the traditional status enjoyed by the Aeneid as a ‘mirror for princes’, a guide to virtuous and reprehensible conduct, and a repository of spiritual and allegorical wisdom, poets and rhetoricians, artists and composers, philosophers and theologians, political theorists and educators all sought and found in Virgil’s works models of good practice and expert instruction in their respective fields. The poet’s sway over Renaissance thought and imagination was by no means confined to the library: throughout the courts, the palaces and the public buildings of Europe, the rich mythological apparatus of the Aeneid was harnessed to convey imperial and dynastic claims, to assert proud traditions of civic liberty, and to associate rulers and their subjects with particular social, moral and ethical values, as well as to advertise the learning, taste and culture of individual patrons.

In literate society, Virgil was everywhere; but the extent of his influence reached far beyond the wide circle of his readers, through the appearance of scenes and motifs from his poems – and sometimes also the figure of the poet himself – in frescoes, sculpture and woodcuts, and even on objects for domestic use and display. Contact with Virgil and his texts took many forms and was shaped by a variety of external factors, in addition to being filtered through countless previous literary and artistic adaptations, a long tradition of critical and pedagogical engagements, and strident expressions of both devotion and censure from different quarters during the centuries between the poet’s own day and the age of the humanists. Among these successive interventions, a place of particular honour is occupied by Dante, whose choice of ‘the sea of all knowledge’ as his guide and master through the caverns of the Inferno and along the slopes of Purgatory was to have a lasting impact on perceptions of Virgil, not only as a literary character and aesthetic model but also as a poet and historical figure.

Proposals are invited for papers in English or Italian, of no more than 30 minutes’ duration, on any aspect of the place of Virgil in Renaissance culture, in any medium. Abstracts should not be longer than 500 words, and should include the author’s name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), and current e-mail address.

Proposals should be sent to one of the conference organisers, Marco Sgarbi (marco.sgarbi AT or Luke Houghton (luke.houghton AT, before 31 December 2011. It is hoped that papers from this event will in due course form a substantial publication.

Lecturer in Classics,
School of Humanities / Sgoil nan Daonnachdan,
University of Glasgow,
Glasgow G12 8QQ.