Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Remembering Dionysus: Nonnus’ Monster

27 June 2024, 3:00 pm–7:00 pm

Michaelina Woutier paiting ‘Bacchanal'

A roundtable discussion with Tim Whitmarsh (University of Cambridge)

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Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Forum, G17
Ground floor, Wilkins Building South Wing
Gower Street
United Kingdom

Nonnus’ fifth-century Dionysiaca is antiquity’s last great pagan epic, and the longest poem to survive from antiquity. Although not widely known today, it has been influential on authors from George Eliot through Italo Calvino to Robin Robertson. What we are to make, however, of this vast, freewheeling sprawl, this compendium of pseudo-Christology, racism and monstrous moral perversions, is another question. In this book, Tim Whitmarsh seeks to read the poem from both within and without — to understand, that is, its internal dynamics at the most fine-grained level, against the backdrop of the ferocious culture wars of fifth-century Egypt.

The respondents will be Emma Greensmith (University of Oxford) and Nick Lowe (Royal Holloway).

Image: Michaelina Woutier, ‘Bacchanal'. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

About the Speaker

Professor Tim Whitmarsh

at University of Cambridge

Tim Whitmarsh was A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture from 2014 to 2023, when he became Regius Professor of Greek. He is Editor in Chief of the fifth edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary.