Day 1: Thursday 23 November
01M.469, doorway 3 Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG
08:30-09:00 Registration and Coffee
09:00-10:00 Panel 1: Philosophical Approaches
African Communitarianism and the Greek Polis, Michael Kwadwo Okyere Asante, University of Ghana
Before colonization, African communities lived in city-states or empires having their own territorial jurisdictions and engaging in trade and military alliances with other states. Traditional African societies during this period have been described as communitarian, and even today this is seen in the communal life of African societies. Traditional African communities, though differing in customs, values and norms, saw themselves as a community of people with common interests, and this was what brought them in contact with each other. The same could be said of the Greek city-states in which the concept of polis transcended what defined a nation, state or society, to reflect political community. What can we bring to bear from these two ancient societies on our modern conceptions of community? The paper will answer this question by exploring the concepts of community and polis in traditional African and Greek societies respectively, and show how, despite being politically independent of one another, the individuality of states cannot be untied from the global community of people. This does not mean that a state cannot be nationalistic, but that its nationalism must consider the collective humanity shared by all other states.
Take a Look at Yourselves: Plato’s Socrates and Seneca on the Interrelation Between Man’s State of Mind and Common Welfare, Dr. Antje Junghanß and Bernhard Kaiser, Dresden University of Technology
For the Roman Stoic Seneca community is basically founded on the mutual exchange of favours. This idea – developed in De beneficiis – is still valid nowadays as modern gift theory as well as our own daily experience of human interaction may testify: Giving creates or stabilizes different forms of relationships.
In the framework of your conference I would like to show in which way – following Seneca – beneficia unfold their binding power. Whereas for Cicero (equally starting from Stoic premises and reflecting on the matter as well) benefactions are meant to pursue existing hierarchies, Seneca’s conception implies that social positions take a back seat compared to the benefactors’ inner state of mind.
A community shaped by people’s attitudes rather than by external parameters sounds beautiful to us, and indeed, Seneca’s De beneficiis is rich in inspiring deliberation. In general there is a tendency – testified in (German) self help literature – to draw on Seneca’s ideas. In a second (and shorter) part of my paper I intend to discuss to what extent his reflections about community can be applied on contemporary circumstances.
10:00-11:30 Panel 2: Early Modern Receptions
King Christian IV of Denmark: the Classics, and Communication as the Road to Success, Dr. Christian Djurslev, University of Edinburgh
This paper explores the little known but intriguing collection of Latin essays and letters by one of Denmark’s most famous kings, Christian IV. Liber Compositionum D. Principis dates to 1591-1593 when Christian was still a young prince (crowned 1596; d. 28 February 1648). The contents provide an engaging account of his early experiences and linguistic training. It shows clear signs of the rigorous education system, which Hans Mikkelsen, Christian’s schoolmaster, had adapted from the Strasbourg gymnasium of Protestant educator Johannes Sturm (1507-1589).
The paper will first offer a historical introduction to the collection. Then it will focus on the style and classical contents of the Liber Compositionum, which is primarily exempla stories that the budding king engaged with for the purposes of ethics and moral education. It will take as a brief case study the king’s reception of Alexander the Great of Macedon, examining the sources and the representation of his kingship. Lastly, the paper turns to the ways in which the Scandinavian North was well integrated within the wider European framework of education, investigating the networks of knowledge and interactions between the educated regents, the wider nobility, and the subjects.
Community and Anti-Community in the Didactic Works of George Buchanan (1506-1582): The World Is Not Enough?, Gary Vos, University of Edinburgh
Buchanan, teacher of Mary Queen of Scots and James VI, throughout his oeuvre shows an interest in concepts of ideal communities and their leaders, and nowhere more so than in his politico-didactic dialogue De Iure regni apud Scotos (‘On the Right of the King among the Scots’) and the Rerum Scoticarum historia (‘History of Scottish Affairs’), the former often being read as decoding the political message of the latter – especially the dénouement of Mary’s deposition. In my paper, however, I wish to establish some connections between De Iure regni and the ideas espoused in Buchanan’s five-book, anti-Lucretian, anti-Copernican cosmological epic, De Sphaera (‘On the Sphere’), which is dedicated to Timoléon de Brissac and purports to teach how to become a good ruler in a Neo-Stoic fashion. Thus, the poem from the outset anticipates De Iure regni. I shall look at correspondences between both texts and their classical sources (Cicero, Seneca) to gauge how Buchanan constructs an image of a ruler for an ideal, cosmopolitan society and uses counter-examples of bad rule, such as Seneca’s pupil Nero or the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. What are the consequences and limitations of Stoic cosmopolitanism, and is it feasible for Timoléon and the Scots?
Being a Greek Community in the Western Renaissance: Janus Lascaris and the Heritage of The Attic Orators, Antonio Iacoviello, University of Bari
Unlike other corpora of antiquity, Minor Attic Orators were almost unknown in Byzantium until the beginning of XIV century, when such texts were rediscovered and started to be copyed, likely under the supervision of Theodore Metochites. Nonetheless, the full spreading of these piéces took place only in Florence under the cultural management of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who oversaw a real circle of copyists; its chief was Janus Lascaris, which pushed many of his scribes to set up an appreciable number of manuscripts of these texts, until their final arrangement in the Aldine edition in 1513. How may this particular interest be explained?
The aim of this paper is to enlighten the role of the connections between the textual tradition and the Humanistic reception of Attic Oratory – in particular Minor Attic Orators – as a powerful instrument of self-depiction of the Byzantine Greek community who moved to Italy after Constantinople’s siege, community that often had problems getting accepted and involved in the West. Indeed, Attic Oratory is, one most the most representative genres of Athenian reality: intellectuals, since Bessarion, used them in order to re-create their identity through the memory of Athenian past. Janus Lascaris is a relevant instance: his literary, copying, teaching enterprises offer a vivid specimen of this cultural policy.
12:00-13:30 Panel 3: Classics and Nationalism
Entry of the Greeks into Valhalla: Building German Communal Identity on the Shoulders of Greek Epic in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Elaine Sanderson, University of Liverpool
Richard Wagner’s philhellenism, well-documented in his prose works and personal correspondence, is reflected in his monumental Germanic tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Although the Ring’s reception of Greek drama, particularly Aeschylus’ Oresteia, is well-explored (Owen Lee, 2005; Ewans, 2008; Goldhill, 2011), its engagement with Greek epic, a genre deeply associated with the notions collective identity which preoccupied Wagner, has been somewhat overlooked.
This paper will examine Wagner’s use of Greek epic precedents in constructing communal identity in the Ring, a work which reflected the emergence of a newly enlightened German community. Referring to Aristotle’s Poetics (1449b, 1454b, 1459b), Hesiod’s Theogony (116-138, 176-206), and Homer’s Iliad (I. 1-21; II. 585-759; IX. 1-78) and Odyssey (I. 337-8; II.296-336; IV. 1-58), I will show that the Ring embraces Greek epic’s scope, divine precedents, nationalistic character, and hero-figure in its libretto and orchestration, and endows these models with the wisdom of Teutonic mythology and Wagner’s desires for national restorations of ‘Germanness’ (Rose, 1992; Deathridge, 2008). I will suggest that the Ring’s reception of Greek epic positions Wagner’s political and racial ideologies alongside the values and artistry of Ancient Greece, thus elevating, legitimising, and ennobling his vision for the wider German community.
Von Gemeinschaft zur Gesellschaft: Receptions of Classical Antiquity in the Creation of the National Socialist Community in Germany, 1933-1945, Kieren Johns
Appeals to antiquity represent a well-versed modern strategy in the process of constructing collective identity. This process is arguably nowhere more evident than in the Fascist States of twentieth century Europe, notably Italy and Germany. The aesthetics of these States have been consistently, and correctly, identified as inherently politicised.  It is the purpose of this paper to examine how the aesthetic reception, in terms of both art and architecture, of Classical Antiquity in National Socialist Germany was used to engender social cohesion. However, whilst Taylor has argued for Gemeinschaft, community, being the underlying principle, this paper argues that the process was more complex.  Reflecting classic German sociological theory, I intend to demonstrate how the National Socialist Reception of the Classical World was rather a transformative process. The aesthetic reception of antiquity, I argue, reflects the sociological dichotomy identified by Ferdinand Tönnies: the transformation from the collective, private community – the gemeinschaft – to the public, formal, individual – the gesellschaft. Tellingly, Tönnies identified this dichotomy as indicative of socio-historical transformation. For the Fascist state, this indicates the essential role that the reception of the Classics played in securing their supremacy.
 Wyke & Biddis, (1990):16.
 Koepnick, (1999): 51.
 Taylor, (1974):157.
 Kamenka, (2017):3.
Classics, Youth and Empire 1919-1939: The Role of Classics in Constructing a Specifically British Imperial Community among Young People, Phyllis Brighouse, University of Liverpool
Classics and the British Empire were both challenged during the interwar period. Existing research identifies English cultural texts discussing a British imperial community, the values required to support it, and the role of Classics in inculcating such values. However, the role of Classics can also be identified in popular texts such as boys’ weekly papers which targeted lower-middle class and working class youth. Here, themes appropriating the ancient world promote a specifically British modern imperialist community.
The fictional public-school world of popular author Charles Hamilton, who was a skilled Classicist, reflects the public-school values of honour, solidarity, moral and physical courage and self-sacrifice, and these are viewed through the prism of Classics. Hamilton’s non-public-school adventure stories, particularly the Ken King south seas tales, also reflect these values. Hamilton’s depiction of the British Empire in the far east reflects a civilising mission among warlike, savage cannibals, while his French south seas imperial community comprises peaceful, non-cannibalistic native peoples helping both French and British white colonists.
Through themes reflecting specific values grounded in Classics, Hamilton’s public-school and adventure stories encouraged his readers to join a specifically British imperial community.
14:15-15:45 Panel 4: Drama
An exploration of This Restless House (adaptation of the Oresteia), Professor Zinnie Harris, University of St. Andrews
Trapped in Between Two Communities: The Reception of Antigone in Northern Ireland, Dimitris Kentrotis-Zinelis, University of Leiden
In my paper I will address the relevance of Antigone’s story of self-sacrifice to Irish politics, and, more specifically, her entanglement in the polarization between the Protestant-Unionist and Catholic-Nationalist communities in the North of Ireland. I will do so, by focusing on two opposite but nonetheless interdependent study cases: the first involves a speech made by Conor Cruise O’Brien – a prominent politician and critic – given at Queen’s University in Belfast in 1968. O’Brien reads Antigone’s duel with Creon as a mythic paradigm and equivalent to contemporary Northern Irish politics and the riotous Civil Rights march that took place in Derry the same year. Eventually, O’Brien takes the side of Creon and argues that Antigone proves a threat to Irish society as a whole, and hence she should be eliminated. As an answer to the above reading of Antigone, Tom Paulin – a Northern Irish playwright – produces an adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy named The Riot Act (1984). In his play Paulin goes against the previous (mis)use of Antigone and accordingly gives Antigone an indubitably sympathetic voice. Paulin accuses O’Brien for his Unionist interpretation of Sophocles’ play and instead provides a revision of the Greek tragedy where Antigone is sketched as a guerilla fighting for Ireland’s independence. By juxtaposing the aforementioned two readings of Antigone, I am to illustrate how any given (positive or negative) portrayal of Antigone is predominantly affected by the expectations and desires of the communities that “receive” her.
The Community of Fear: Seven Against Thebes, Siracusa and Blitz Spirit, Xavier Buxton, University of Oxford
In 1924 Benito Mussolini was so enthused by a performance of I Sette a Tebe in the ancient theatre at Syracuse that within a year he had established a National Institute for Antique Drama, which survives to this day. Sixteen years later, the BBC Home Service broadcast a version of the same play, translated and introduced by Gilbert Murray, at 21.25 on Sunday 25th August, the very night that the Blitz began.
This paper will investigate what it was in Aeschylus’ play that made it so attractive to Italian fascists and BBC wartime programmers alike. While both aspired to a retrenchment of “civilisation”, I will suggest that they also sought, like Eteocles, to tame and harness the fears of the masses, to socialize them, and to direct them to their “proper” ends. Fear, in the play, oscillates between a disruptive and a stabilizing force, between the selfish and the social; it is both the foundation of the community, and a threat to it. By looking at this paradox through the lens of fascist and patriotic productions, I hope throw a new political light on the enigma of catharsis.
15:45- 16:00 Break
16:00-17:00 Panel 5: Travelogues
Classics and Community in Early-Twentieth-Century French Nationalist Travel Writing to Greece, Sarah Budasz, Durham University
Nations, Benedict Anderson suggests, can be conceived as ‘imagined communities’ . My paper proposes to examine how Classics were used in the building of French national identities, concentrating here on the emergence of nationalist movements in the late 19th/early 20th Century. My research aims to show how ideas of community and identity are tested and stressed in travel writing. This paper focuses on two travel narratives by nationalist writers who visited Greece at the turn of the century: Charles Maurras (Anthinea, d’Athènes à Florence ) and Maurice Barrès (Voyage à Sparte ). I intend to define how classical culture (literature but also visual culture of antiquity) framed these travellers’ expectations and visions. I aim to relate both cultural and textual aspects of Classical reception in these texts, in order to illuminate the effect that the appropriation of certain cultural heritages played in the building of French nationalist narratives and on the building of this imaginary heritage itself.
Discovering Ancient Cyprus During the Nineteenth Century: Luigi Palma di Cesnola and the Island’s Different Communities, Beatrice Pestarino, University College London
In this paper, I shall address the issue of the reception of Ancient Greek and Phoenician cultures in Cyprus during the XIX century, through Lugi Palma di Cesnola’s work, which contributed to spread the Cypriot archaic and classical history and to increase the knowledge of the roots to which the island’s different communities were related. Cyprus has always been a fundamental hub for the interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks (Iacovou 2006), a crucial point of contact between East and West, from the Antiquity to the XIX century at least, when it was part of the Ottoman Empire. Piedmontese military nobleman, Luigi Palma di Cesnola landed on Cyprus as American consul; he found two big Greek and Ottoman communities, along with that of the “Italian-Levantini” and other minorities. In this paper, I aim to show that discovering parts of Cypriot heritage, he contributed to define better the Cypriot cultural overlap, pointing out differences and similarities among several communities, along with increasing the range of the new archaeological discoveries in the nineteenth century. In that period, archaeology is adventure and cultural mission, when findings of buried civilization became popular phenomena, which amplified the echo of sensationalist amazing campaigns: Luigi Palma di Cesnola is involved in such a climate as a minor Schliemann. The paper will be mainly based on his personal correspondence and on the first edition of his monograph, Cyprus, its cities, tombs and temples (1877), a travel book, which provides the transition from erudition to primitive archaeology.
17:15-18:00 Keynote Lecture: Antigone in the Community, Professor Douglas Cairns, University of Edinburgh
Day 2: Friday 24 November
09:00-09:45 Keynote Lecture: Antiquity and the Modern Civic Imagination: apologia or recusatio? Professor Lorna Hardwick, Open University
09:45-10:45 Panel 1: Christian Receptions
“She is not Dead, but Sleeping”: Consolation for Romans and Christians in the Fourth Century, Miriam Hay, University of Warwick
Christians in fourth-century Rome faced new challenges and opportunities in the realm of funerary commemoration, in light of their shifting understanding of identity in an increasingly Christian Rome. In their sarcophagus reliefs packed with complex arrangements of togate figures, as well as their poetic verse epitaphs displaying Virgilian allusions, we can trace a synthesis being woven of their dual heritage, producing a funerary language able to console through appeal to both the prestige and security of their Roman past, and the hope promised by past biblical miracles.
This paper will focus on one verse inscription and one sarcophagus, both from late-fourth-century Rome, in order to illustrate some parallels in their strategies of self-representation and consolation that evolved across art and text. Through their excerpted imagery and borrowed formulae, both visual and literary, they both make efforts to position the deceased at the culmination of a line of biblical heroes, which is simultaneously situated very firmly in Roman culture. These engagements reveal real contributions to aligning the two cultures inherited by Christians in Rome, part of an ongoing negotiation and re-definition of their identity as members of one community that found itself straddling two traditions.
Cultural Community in Late Antiquity: Sozomen’s Monastic Perspective on the Idea of Paideia Between Classical Heritage and Christian Culture, Matteo Antoniazzi, University of Angers/Ghent University
Since its origins, the definition of Christian identity has been one of the most important aims of Church History as a literary genre. The construction of a “cultural community” plays a key role in the mid-fifth century Church Histories, where the three most famous historians (Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret) emphasize the struggle between orthodoxy and heresies. However, another main problem is represented by the relationship between Christian education and classical paideia: should the latter one be accepted by Christian readers? As already shown by Pierre Maraval, Socrates gives great importance to the knowledge of Greek, pagan culture, that permeates the whole of his work. This paper will focus on another great Church historian: Sozomen. Starting from a positive attitude towards paideia, this author seems to suggest a new reception of the classical heritage. Thanks to the representation of some monastic figures – whose leading model should be found in the narration concerning Ephrem the Syrian –, he engaged in dialogue with Socrates’ work in order to create a new kind of Christian paideia. This cultural interaction – far from being univocally accepted at that period – represents a turning point for the comprehension of Sozomen’s work and shows us an original perspective on late antique culture.
11:00-12:00 Panel 2: Roman Receptions
Friends and Enemies: Associations of Roman Citizens and Strategies of Empire, Professor Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Trinity College, Hartford
This paper assesses the dynamics of interactions between colonizing and colonized populations in the absence of state actors by examining evidence for associations of Roman citizens. The product of emigration from Italy and the spread of Roman citizenship in the provinces of the Roman Empire, these clubs of Roman businessmen formed in non-Roman cities from the second century BCE to the fourth century CE. Epigraphic and literary sources indicate that they likely represented minority populations, and that they convened to practice religion, socialize, and facilitate business.
The paper focuses on the strategies these associations used to establish community with other Roman abroad. It traces how these associations created a sense of community and belonging within the Roman diaspora, given that increasing numbers of people acquired Roman citizenship in the provinces and had no personal relationship with Rome or Italy. I also examine how associations of Roman citizens and non-Romans established cooperative relationships with each other against the backdrops of imperial violence that often motivated non-Romans to forcibly resist and kill the Romans in their midst.
By comparing evidence from Gaul, Africa, Spain, Greece, Asia, and Moesia Inferior, I argue that the practice of emperor worship may have created a bond among Romans abroad and between Romans and non-Romans by tying them more to the person of the emperor than Rome. For non-Romans in Greece and Asia in particular, the bonds they formed with associations of Roman citizens were mechanisms of self-protection and agency when resistance against their exploitation was neither possible nor desirable. Ultimately, the paper presents evidence with valuable heuristic potential for application to studies of migration and empire in the modern world.
Daughters of Eloquence: The Roman Matrona at the Eighteenth-Century Salon, Seren Nolan, Durham University
This paper explores the tantalising (re)interpretation of Roman matronae as orators in the long eighteenth century
and how receptions of ancient female speakers figured in discourses on women’s participation in the ‘conversational communities’ of the French and British salon.
Long recognised as essential institutions of eighteenth century culture(s), salons were places that eighteenth century men and women communed in discussion to formulate their polity and politesse as members of the ‘public sphere.’ These heterosocial speaking communities were steeped in classicism; the histories and literatures of antiquity provided subjects to talk upon whilst imitation of ancient orators and rhetoric taught salonnieres how to speak. Of all the ancient arts, rhetoric was most prized in salon circles as a tenet of polite, political - and particularly - masculine eloquence. The importance of ancient rhetoric to male sociability in the eighteenth century is well charted but its longstanding correlation to masculinity in this period has served to disguise the vital role ancient texts also played in conditioning and condoning women’s speech.
Interrogating the phenomenon of the ‘matrona-orator’ - Roman women prized for their eloquence - in literary, epistolary and visual culture, this paper will explore gendered receptions of ancient rhetoric and histories and how they were recast in a ‘feminised’ rhetorical tradition for performance at the salon. Revealing Roman matronae as icons of female eloquence in the long eighteenth century, this paper posits the ‘matrona-orator’ as a figure whose reception and reaccentuation allowed women to speak of, for and by themselves.
12:00-13:00 “What Next? A Careers Discussion and Q&A Session” hosted by the Classical Reception Studies Network (CRSN)
13:30-14:30 Panel 3: Poetics of Community
William Morris and the Poetry of the People, Dr. Lilah Grace Canevaro, University of Edinburgh
A Community of Workers in Leonidas of Tarentum, Claire-Emmanuelle Nardone, ENS de Lyon – Università degli Studi Roma Tre
While lower-class characters were rarely present in archaic and classical greek poetry, they enjoyed popularity among hellenistic poets, such as Leonidas of Tarentum. This epigrammatist modified sepulchral and dedicatory epigram to focus on the lives of the lower classes: close to half of his epigrams deal with humble characters and themes. Many of them explicitly commemorate rustic or urban workers such as fishermen, hunters, carpenters, and weavers.
Leonidas inherited the clearly distinct and separated categories of workers which were shaped by archaic and classical Greek culture and poetry. However, as Kathryn Gutzwiller points out in Poetic Garlands (p. 91), by exploiting the characteristics of the epigram form, Leonidas reworked literary traditions by representing humble characters as "a class of individuals". Within the framework of her analysis, this presentation will focus on the sub-class of workers, and investigate how Leonidas created a new representation of a "community of workers".
We will examine this question from different angles, ranging from social to stylistic aspects. Particular attention will be paid to gender issues. For instance, we will explore the extent to which traditional boundaries between male and female activities are challenged by Leonidas.
14:30-15:30 Panel 4: Classics in North America
Making Community Visible: W. E. B. Du Bois Reads the Greek Historians, Dr. Harriet Fertik, University of New Hampshire
In this paper, I examine W. E. B. Du Bois’ use of Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus in one of his own works of history, Black Folk Then and Now (1939). Du Bois pays special attention to the ancient historians’ accounts of the distinctiveness of Egyptians and Ethiopians, even as he paints a vivid picture of contact and exchange between different communities in the Mediterranean. Claiming a space for black people in the ancient world, however, is not his only reason for engaging with antiquity. I argue that, in his synthesis of the historians as well as ancient material evidence, Du Bois delineates the kinds of knowledge we need in order to see ourselves as descended from ancient Greece and Rome. He thus provides tools for black and white readers to develop a new and more complex vision of the communities to which they belong. This new vision offers no clearly defined communal boundaries, but rather the recognition that a community is necessarily a hazy object of view.
The Classics in the Colonies: Classically-inspired Plays and the Development of a Shared Cultural Experience in Eighteenth-Century America, Gary Fisher, University of Nottingham
Over the course of the eighteenth century, the disparate and heterogeneous American colonies played host to a variety of travelling theatre troupes that toured the continent, plying their trade. Despite initial scepticism of the potentially pernicious moral results that might be incurred by allowing such a licentious institution as the theatre into America’s god-fearing communities, stage-plays gradually managed to entrench themselves as one of the cornerstones of a shared, American cultural experience across the thirteen colonies. This paper will employ a data-based approach to examine the performance frequencies of different plays set in the ancient world and consider what role classically-inspired plays played in the development of this shared experience. It will introduce classically-inspired plays, such as David Garrick’s Lethe, that became communal texts, known across the continent, and discuss what attitudes and beliefs concerning the ancient world they engendered amongst their diverse audiences. By doing so this paper will help move towards a better understanding of the reception of the ancient world in eighteenth century literature and the broader role that the classics played in the development of a unique American cultural identity.
15:45-16:45 Panel 5: Digital Communities
Pericles’ Citizenship Law and Digital Communities – the (Online and Offline) Identity Dilemma and Parrhesia Paradox. From a Lovely Utopia to a Scary Dystopia, Joana Bárbara Fonseca, University of Coimbra
Pericles’ notion of citizenship and community is rooted not only in legal premises, but also in morals and ethics, which opens a curious precedente to what we inted to discuss here. Nowadays, in the new era of technologies, it seems interesting to look at the world wide web communities and try to figure out in which kind of values do they rely to stick together and stand strong.
Foucault, speaking on the self government and the government of the others, when analyzing Pericles’ speeches to the Athenians, raises this important double faced issue. The notion of self surveillance and identity craft is shaped since a set of moral and ethic qualities are expected from the individual, as a citizen, in this case. Raising the paradox of democratic parrhesia, Foucault tries to figure out which situations shaped the concept by the time. Now, we intend to join these currents of thought to analyze the dynamics of online communities, particularly those related to politics and web activism. The newest political battlefield is the cyberspace, a space where the identity of the self differs from the offline self. So what is the classic and democratic root for these online communities? How do they deal with the parrhesia paradox?
Greek and Roman Communities in Twenty-First-Century Videogames, Ross Clare, University of Liverpool
Through two very different videogames, this paper analyses the ways in which Greek and Roman videogame communities confront us with the issue of entrenched assumptions and expectations concerning the ancient world.
In Imperium Romanum (2014), the player is required to construct and plan highly organised Roman cities and colonies, negotiating such characteristically ‘Roman’ concerns as taxation, logistics, and resource management. The popular conception of Rome as of gridded streets and prearranged structural planning informs the developers’ vision of Rome, but also provides the very framework through which the player interacts with Roman society. In Okhlos (2016), the player takes control of an ever-growing mob of ancient Greeks in cartoon-like Mediterranean cities, destroying ever-familiar marble-columned structures and tackling the Olympian gods themselves in a fast, frenetic style of play with more than a hint of left-wing, even Marxist ideology.
Here ‘unstructured’ classical Greece and ‘rigid’ imperial Rome are refigured to fit genre-specific videogame conventions and, in the process, inform us of the many stereotypical popular beliefs the 21st century still possesses concerning Greek and Roman communities, and how these ‘popular receptions’ contribute to our vision of antiquity.
17:00-17:45 Keynote Lecture: Classical Reception and Classical Philology, Professor Patrick Finglass, University of Bristol