Department of Greek & Latin


Ancient Greek Poetry and Poetics

Interactions Between Theory and Practice

This conference has been made possible by generous support of the A.G. Leventis foundation and the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO)

21-22 September 2017

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs. Attributed to John Osborne.

Modern literary critics have often fallen victim to scathing remarks by practicing authors. Inherent in this tendency is the assumption that the work of critics is an incidental epiphenomenon to the more essential activity of creative literary art. Critical theories of literature are thought to follow from the practice of authors who pay little heed to the former in blazing their particular trails. It is perhaps as a consequence of such attitudes that the possibility of a mutually influential interaction between poetry and poetics in antiquity has rarely received much scholarly attention. Much excellent research in recent decades has enhanced our understanding of the poetical theories of ancient philosophers, rhetoricians, scholars and grammarians. To name two examples, new and improved editions of the Derveni papyrus and of the Herculaneum papyri of Philodemus have illuminated Classical and Hellenistic methods of interpreting literature - yet the implications of these theories for our understanding of the practice of ancient poets have seldom been the main focus of investigation. Our aim is to address this neglect with a conference to be held at University College London, which will be devoted to the relationship between the theory and practice of ancient Greek poetry.

Events Programme

Thursday 21 September  - 25 Gordon Square, room 107 (access via Malet Place)
10.00-10.30 Coffee and Registration
10.30-11.00 Welcome and Introduction
11.00-11.50 Andrew Ford (Princeton): Between Poets and Philosophers: Vernacular Criticism in Classical Greece
11.50-12.40 Tom Mackenzie (UCL): Eleatic Poetics
14.00-14.50 Theodora Hadjimichael (Warwick): Lyric Disturbed
14.50-15.40 Tom Phillips (Oxford): Apollonius' Argonautica and the Travels of Lyric
Coffee, Tea
16.00-16.50 René Nünlist (Cologne): Interaction between Hellenistic Theory and Practice: some Cautionary Remarks
16.50-17.40 Elizabeth Asmis (Chicago): Philodemus Revisited
Friday 22 September - 16 Taviton Street Room 433
9.30-10.20 Casper de Jonge (Leiden): Antipater of Thessalonica: Poetry and Literary Criticism in the Augustan Age
10.20-11.10 Malcolm Heath (Leeds): The Functions of Poetry in On Sublimity
Coffee, tea
11.40-12.30 Luuk Huitink (Heidelberg): 'Pictorialism' in Literary Theory and Practice
12.30-13.20 Emily Kneebone (Cambridge): Literary Criticism and Imperial Greek Epic
14.20-15.10 Baukje van den Berg (University of Silesia in Katowice): Eustathius on Homeric Poetics and Tzetzes' Poetry on Homer: Poetry and Education in Twelfth-Century Byzantium
15.10-16.00 Tim Whitmarsh (Cambridge): Nonnian Polymers
16.00-16.30 Plenary Discussion