Classics Postgraduates Research Seminars

The subject area of Classics, in collaboration with History and Archaeology and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, invites proposals for a new interdisciplinary postgraduate seminar series on any topic broadly related to Classical antiquity and its reception which gathers together postgraduates across the College of Arts and the College of Social Sciences. Any students interested in Classical Philology, Ancient History & Philosophy, Theology and Archaeology, or who are engaged with topics variously related to Classics are warmly invited to submit proposal for papers of 30-40 minutes by Friday 22nd January 2016. Email submissions should be sent to glasgowclassicspgseminars@gmail.com and should include an informal summary of the proposed research paper and a provisional title. Seminars will be held fortnightly starting Monday 25th January in the Classics building (65 Oakfield Avenue) at 5pm and will be followed by a more informal discussion over refreshments. 

The organisers

Ianto Jocks, Francesco Grillo, Sotirios Frantzanas, Ian Mcelroy, Charles Mitchell

Please find below the schedule for this seminar series

25th January 2016

Ianto Jocks (School of Humanities, Classics) - “A rational modern pharmacotherapeutic approach (..) which demands our greatest admiration“ : the reception of Scribonius Largus in the works of late 19th/early 20th century German pharmacologists and dentists

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

The Compositiones medicamentorum of Scribonius Largus, a 1st century CE Latin pharmacological recipe compilation supplemented by comments on contemporary medicine and its ethics, is an important source for pharmacology, medicine, and technical Latin in the early Roman Empire. While comparatively obscure in comparison to texts such as Celsus’ De medicina, Dioscorides' Materia medica, or the opus of Galen, the Compositiones nevertheless have a long history of reception in subsequent medical works and the historiography of science and medicine as written by practitioners. This paper will provide a general overview of Scribonius Largus’ work and its afterlife from the second to the 19th century before focussing on the reception of the Compositiones in late 19th and early 20th century German language scholarship. Taking the pharmacological study of Felix Rinne (1896) and the two dental studies by Walter Wriedt and Fritz Trilk (both 1921) as case studies,  it will be analysed how Scribonius was discussed, understood, and used by late 19th and early 20th century German pharmacologists and dentists. It will be argued that the historical scholarship on this text, although in some respects problematic in terms of modern methodological approaches, is of considerable value for understanding not only the text itself, but also the pharmacological, medical, and scientific context in which contemporary discussions of these historical sources operate, something to be seen particularly in light of the legitimisation strategies of the then-new disciplines of pharmacology and academic dentistry. As such, the study of Scribonius Largus and his reception not only contributes to the understanding of pharmacological practice in 1st century Rome, but also illustrates the nature and concerns of late 19th and early 20th century pharmacological research and medical/dental practice in a German-speaking context, as well as themes and approaches in the contemporary historiography of medicine more broadly.

08th February 2016

Henna Karhapaa (School of Culture and Creative Arts, History of Art) - Aesop's Fables and the Assimilation of Animal Imagery into Political Allegory: Physiognomy and the Eighteenth-Century English Satirical Print

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

This paper examines how the moralistic animal tales from Aesop's fables were utilised by the eighteenth-century English political print to allegorise the actions of contemporary politicians, such as Henry Fox and the Duke of Newcastle (frequently depicted as a fox and a goose respectively). Aesop's fables were collected and published numerous times during the early modern period, and especially John Ogilby's 1668 edition illustrated by the likes of Wenceslaus Hollar, who introduced etching to England, and Francis Barlow, who was also known for his anti-Catholic propaganda prints, inspired political printmakers of the following century to draw parallels between the animal archetypes and behaviour of the members of successive ministries from Robert Walpole to Charles James Fox. The eighteenth-century pictorial political argument was also influenced by the pseudo-science of physiognomy that sought to ascribe animal characteristics to humans based on their appearance and personality. In this instance, the deployment of Aesop's fables may be seen as an attempt to divulge the moral character of politicians, and assign a stereotypical depiction to each personage to facilitate their familiarity with the public who consumed political prints.

29th February 2016

Joel Leslie (School of Humanities, Classics) - Perfecting Praise: Symmachus’ Orations and the Imperial Office in the Fourth Century

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

The Roman aristocrat Symmachus’ Orations, delivered to the Pannonian emperors Valentinian I and Gratian in Gaul in 369 and 370, make an important contribution to our understanding of the imperial office under the emperor and his co-rulers in the second half of the fourth century. Although a young man at the time of composition, Symmachus demonstrates great erudition in his work, showing extensive familiarity with both the texts of the classical corpus and with the many conventional aspects of the panegyrical genre, including but not limited to vocabulary, themes, details of the emperor’s early career and upbringing, achievements, recusatio, and allusions to famous past figures. Given the frequency of panegyrical address in the Late Antique period, it would be easy to view these speeches, alongside other panegyrics, as little more than ceremonial, a hackneyed formula of Roman governance, and perhaps even a sign of decadence and decline in the imperial courts of the fourth century. In this paper, however, I shall demonstrate that Symmachus’ speeches played a very active, indeed vital, role in the mechanism of Valentinian’s imperial power, and were part of a wider effort to establish the emperor’s identity, imbue his rule with legitimacy, and validate his new and unproven dynasty at a time of great political and military instability within the Empire.

18th April 2016

Mads Lindholmer (School of Humanities, Classics) - Breaking the idealistic paradigm: Competition and ambition in Dio’s Roman Republic

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

Scholarship has often either focussed only on specific institutional aspects of Dio’s Early Rome (Urso 2002, 2005, 2011), or asserted that this period is an idealised contrast to the Late Republic (Simons 2009, Kemezis 2014; contra Libourel 1964, 1974). This alleged moral decline from Early to Late Republic is almost canonical in Roman literature.In fact, the development of the Republic in Dio is far more complex. This paper first suggests that Dio organised Republican ambition and consequent competition into three distinct phases. The Early Republic is significantly less idealised than other sources, as leading individuals damage Rome through their own ambition. Even during the Middle Republic egoistic ambition is clearly present, especially among Roman generals – although competition largely vanishes from internal politics. The Late Republic, on the other hand, signifies a clear shift to a society dominated by internal struggle. This latter, at least, is hardly surprising in view of the tradition. What is more striking is the ubiquity of ambition in all phases of the Republic. I argue that this was a central component in Dio’s overarching interpretative framework. Dio explored the problem of ambition with sophistication, and in so doing asserted both the rupture heralded by the Late Republic and his own originality in breaking with established traditions of moral decline. The historian chose to present political competition as a central problem that dominated the history of the Roman Republic even from its inception. As such, Dio not only rejected idealised traditions of Early Rome in a distinctive way. In addition, he incorporated this rejection into a coherent explanation of how his overarching factors of history – such as ambition – were closely connected to the Republic’s permutations.

 09th May 2016

Ian Mcelroy (School of Humanities, Archaeology) - Ruins, reuse and appropriation: rethinking temple-church conversion in the Eastern Mediterranean

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

Temple-church conversion was a deeply meaningful process that took place in numerous forms throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. It was not simply a display of triumphalism, nor was it motivated purely be expedience as is often thought. Many factors contributed to conversion taking place, with any attempt at creating typologies impractical and harmful to analysis. In this paper I firstly demonstrate that one cannot impose simplistic typologies upon the data set by considering what temple-church conversion actually was. Using two main case studies, Side in modern Turkey and Umm el-Jimal in Jordan, I then explore how users experienced quite different conversions through the key themes of relationships between temple ruins and churches, the appropriation of associations, and the use of in situ material.

23rd May 2016

Bill Mann (School of Culture and Creative Arts, Music) - The Ancients versus the Moderns - the story of how the pastoral from Hesiod, Theocritus, Ovid, Virgil, became a political football in early 18th century London, all but destroying early attempts at Italian opera

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

When Jacob Tonson, printer and bookseller, published his Poetical Miscellanies: The Sixth Part in 1709, featuring pastorals by both Ambrose Philips and Alexander Pope, the poets were widely separated at either ends of the collection. Whether Tonson intended this separation is not clear, but the gap reflected a difference in attitudes to classical pastorals. These attitudes developed with Elizabethan interpretations of Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance classics - in literature with Sidney and Spenser, and in music with Italian madrigals 'englished' (1590s). By the 1690s two schools of thought had been formulated in England, the neoclassic and the rationalistic, arising initially from a dispute in France between Rapin and Fontenelle, the Ancients vs. the Moderns. Whether pastoral characters should be arcadian shepherds or English swains, whether pastoral idylls should be superior to piscatory eclogues, whether Theocritus and Virgil should be the exclusive models, or the same reinterpreted by Spencer - brought about sharp divisions. The inclusion of the 'neoclassical' Pope and the 'rationalistic' Philips in the same 1709 collection, exacerbated the dispute. The quarrel had already been brewing in early 18th century London with Pope, Temple, Gay, Swift espousing the early classical values, and Philips, Tickell, Purney, Addison preferring pastorals updated in an English landscape. The quarrel continued and reached a climax in the pages of The Guardian in April 1713. The status of the classics was therefore in the balance, not necessarily to be rejected, but to be subjected to modification, the impulse being progress. That idea of progress quickly became politicised into two camps - conservative Tories and progressive Whigs. The three pastoral operas that kick-started Italianate opera in London, 1705-1708, were a flimsy reflection of what was expected, and so were doomed from the outset. A bad start for Italian opera, supported by neither Tory nor Whig. But against the odds Italian opera survived, and exactly  how - is the question.

30th May 2016

Christopher Burden-Strevens (Classics) - 'Greek Tyranny and the Roman Dictatorship in the Fall of the Republic

Walsh Room (R203), 
Basement,
65 Oakfield Avenue

This work-in-progress presentation first develops a plan for a new Honours module in the Imperial Greek historiography of the Roman Republic. It then explores the presentation on the part of Imperial Greek historians of the Republican dictatorship as a form of Classical Greek tyranny. I argue that material evidence from the 50s BCE suggests that the governing and literate class of the first century BCE came to re-evaluate the dictatorship in terms of Greek tyranny, even before Caesar's dictatorship in perpetuum — an interpretation found only in our later Greek historians of this period. In particular, conventional signifiers of Greek tyranny such as cruelty, immoderation, and the forceful usurpation of power became strongly associated with the Republican dictator, leading to acute anxieties even at the mention of a dictatorship, best exemplified in the case of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus in the 50s. By re-evaluating the Republican dictatorship with the Imperial Greek historians as our point of departure, and then analysing their interpretations in conjunction with the contemporary evidence, we can gain new insights into the collapse of the Republic, and the imperative for new emergency powers in the form of the monarch as such.