Seen on Classicists: Classical Association of Scotland Conference 2015, St Andrews, June 18-19

Dear all,
Registration is open for this year’s Classical Association of Scotland conference at the School of Classics, University of St Andrews, 18-19 June 2015:

‘The Ethics of Reading in Hellenistic and Early Imperial Greek and Roman Texts’

Ancient authors often conceived of writing and reading as an activity with serious moral and ethical implications.
Important aspects of this process and its larger social-cultural context have already been well understood: the relationship between rhetorical training and the formation of character which is so prominent in Isocrates (e.g., Too 1995) and his admirer, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (e.g, Hidber 1996; Wiater 2011); the importance of speeches as carefully crafted representations of the speaker’s character (e.g., Gunderson 2003; Gleason 1995); the significance of exempla as guidelines for the readers’ own attitudes and behaviour, both in historiography and oratory (e.g., Rutherford 1994; Pownall 2004), and the philosophical conceptions of self-hood and character that have often influenced authors’ believes about character and (self-)representation (e.g., Gill 1996, 2006).
This conference aims to contribute to this lively debate and further elucidate the intersections of reading/ writing and ethics and morals in ancient thought. In particular, we hope to explore new aspects to the question by shifting the focus of the debate from the authors and their strategies of self-representation to the different ways in which texts of various genres involve the readers into ethical and moral issues.
Drawing on a wide variety of different genres of both Greek and Latin texts, the contributions to this conference seek to explore the numerous ways in which narratives intersect with moral and ethical questions and controversies. Some guiding questions include:
• how did ancient authors – philosophers and authors of literary texts but also political communities as “authors” of inscriptions – conceive of the moral and ethical implications of their texts?
• in what different ways do texts raise moral and ethical issues and controversies and prompt readers to engage with and take a stance towards them?
• which are the ethical and moral issues that are raised through these different narrative strategies?
• can we achieve a more precise understanding of how they imagined their texts would shape or inform their readers’ characters? Can we go beyond the familiar concept of imitatio/ μίμησις that corresponds to the use of exempla and other overt, ‘didactic’, elements in ancient texts?
• which elements of ancient texts and narratives apart from direct authorial statements contribute to prompting the reader to create an ‘ethical profile’ of the author?
For registration, a full programme, and further information please go to
Do not hesitate to contact me (nw23(at) or our conference assistant Mrs Margaret Goudie (classcon(at) with any questions.
Best wishes,
Nicolas Wiater


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