Classics and Ancient History is proud to have been awarded a Bronze Award on the Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM) trial run conducted by the Equality Challenge Unit.

Events

Research events play an important role in our active research culture. Academic staff from the University and other institutions come together with students to share and debate the latest ideas and developments.

WhenTimeDescriptionAdd to your calendar
17 January 201815:00

Dr Valeria Cinaglia (Exeter) Ethics: Ancient Greek Comedy

The fragmentary nature of Middle Comedy, and what is left of Old and New Comedy beyond Aristophanes and Menander, makes it difficult to carry out a comprehensive enquiry into the ethical dimension of Greek Comedy. My attempt will be, therefore, to reconstruct an outline of the topic building mainly on the extant works of Aristophanes and Menander, while supporting my general argument with what is left of other Ancient Greek Comic texts, as far as the evidence can be stretched. In this paper I identify two themes, which, I argue, help shaping my inquiry into the ethical aspects of Ancient Greek Comedy. Accordingly, in part (i) I will start with exploring how Old Comedy reflects on the role of the individual with respect to other people – i.e. his household, community of friends or fellow citizens – the value of reciprocity, the danger of isolation and the search for the right balance among all these factors. In part (ii) I will focus on the different kinds of figures discussed by Aristophanes and Menander, with a brief glance at the pivotal importance that Middle Comedy most probably played in this shift. On the one hand, Aristophanes presents figures in a way that does not immediately invite us to analyse them as realistically presented ethical agents, and it is sometimes difficult to identify a development in their ethical character or an interest in elaborating a reasoning conducive to an improved ethical understanding. In Menander, on the other hand, we can document in more detail a specific interest in describing complex ethical situations and in presenting a clear analysis of the figures’ ethical character development and how this is linked with the presence or absence of ethical understanding. We will see, however, that it is difficult to ascribe this apparent variance in focus to the whole genre. My conclusion is, thus, that some of the fundamental ethical themes do remain consistent throughout time. And indeed, even when we find an apparent sharp difference in ethical focus among comedies written in different periods, we should question whether we have enough evidence to assess this variance. Full details
Add event
31 January 201815:00

Dr Gabriele Galluzzo (Exeter) Aristotle etc.: a rough guide to parts and wholes in ancient philosophy

With very few exceptions, ancient philosophy scholars have paid significantly little attention to the issue of the part-whole relationship in ancient philosophical texts. This is surprising, given the obvious interest of the topic from a philosophical viewpoint and the role it plays in a number of areas, including cosmology, metaphysics, linguistics and aesthetics. In this paper, I wish to sketch out some conceptual coordinates that might be of help in the study of parts and wholes in ancient philosophy. The paper breaks into two parts. (i) In the first, I explain why the part-whole relationship is a problem for ancient philosophers and outline three different ancient solutions, which can be described as Monism (Parmenides), Reductionism (the Atomists) and Hylomorphism (Aristotle), respectively. (ii) In the second part, I show how Aristotle’s solution allows for wide applications beyond metaphysics, and in particular to such areas as political theory, mathematics, linguistics and literary theory. I end the paper by advancing the suggestion that Aristotle’s treatment of tragedy in the Poetics, and more particularly his fetishism for the plot as the defining feature of tragedy, is driven by his metaphysical views on unity, wholeness and the part-whole relationship. Full details
Add event
7 February 201815:00

Elisa Groff (Exeter) Title TBC

Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar. Full details
Add event
14 February 201815:00

Dr Catherine Ware (Cork) Spectacular justice: the arena in Claudian's panegyrics

The comparison between man and animal is a trope of epic, the spectacle of consular games is a set piece of panegyric. In a complex network of allusion, Claudian combines these two figures so that the villains of his panegyrics, dehumanised through epic similes, are recalled in their animal guise for punishment as part of triumphal or consular games. Full details
Add event
28 February 201815:00

Prof. Leif Isaksen (Exeter) Title TBC

Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar. Full details
Add event
7 March 201815:00

Dr William Short (Exeter) Title TBC

Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar. Full details
Add event
14 March 201815:00

Prof. Lynette Mitchell (Exeter) Biography, exemplarity and the ideal king.

Classics and Ancient History Research Seminar. Full details
Add event
21 March 201817:00

Prof. Patrick Finglass (Bristol) Title TBC

Abstract to follow. Full details
Add event
28 March 201815:00

Dr Francesca Middleton (Cambridge) After cento: analysing works of difficult authorship

Recent years have encouraged classicists to no longer use ‘cento’ as a pejorative term, limiting its use to the description of poetry which follows the strict, formal method of re-ordering extant verses into a new narrative. This better reflects the use of ‘cento’ as a term in antiquity, but it nonetheless encourages us to ignore the lessons we may learn from those who, even if in bad faith, have used the term ‘cento’ to describe a broader range of literary practice. One example of a work dismissed as cento in the twentieth century is Quintus of Smyrna’s Posthomerica. Writing in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, Bernard Knox describes this poem as follows: ‘14 books of hexameter verse as full of Homeric formulas and reminiscences as they are empty of inspiration – a leaden echo of the great voice of his original … a kind of Homeric cento on a vast scale.’ In this paper, I salvage insight from such remarks by discussing why it might be useful to appreciate cento as a phenomenon which reaches beyond the strict centonic method. I argue that the principles of cento allow us to better analyse all works which in their response to earlier compositions avoid the traditional line-of-succession model constructed, paradigmatically, by the canonical epic tradition. All three of the major cento poets – Proba, Ausonius and Eudocia – construct identities for themselves which may be measured against their epic predecessors. Homer and Virgil are praised, and Ausonius for one marks the tension between Virgil and himself, writing in his prefatory letter that his cento is de alieno nostrum: ‘from another, [but] mine’. This difficult and double image of authorship imagines what we might recognise as the double horizon of expectations present in cento poetry: one developed by the poetry’s verses and another developed by the framing narrative, whether that follows the tropes of epithalamion (Ausonius) or the Christian gospels (Eudocia). This is a striking poetic method, which disrupts our understanding of readerly reception, which since Jauss we have understood as the reader’s engagement with a single horizon of expectations, constructed through the mechanism of genre. Acknowledging these principles of cento’s poetic method, we may change the questions we ask in relation to notionally centonic, notionally derivative works such as the Posthomerica. Rather than analysing these works on the basis of traditional reception theory – asking how Quintus manipulates or else deviates from the horizon of expectations set by the Homeric epics – we may ask what new horizon is constructed to compete with that of Homeric epic. In this paper, I suggest that the Posthomerica’s opening and the preponderance of similes throughout the poem encourage us to understand the poem’s heroic narrative against a story about the power of the physical world, and following the steps of this analysis will articulate a method which is beneficial for the discussion of all works of indiscrete authorship. Full details
Add event
2 May 201817:00

Dr Jonathan Prag (Oxford) Rams and Warships: bronze rostra from the final battle of the First Punic War

This paper will present the spectacular finds from the underwater survey being undertaken off western Sicily by the Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily. Principal among these is the very rare find of 12 bronze rams from warships which sank during the final battle of the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage, in 241 BC. At least 8 of the rams are inscribed (7 Latin, 1 Punic) and the rams and their inscriptions not only provide new information on warships and institutions in the period, but also create significant problems for our current understanding of naval warfare at this date. CA Southwest Lecture, in association with the Roman Society. Full details
Add event