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Faculty of Classics

 

Project Outline

This project will provide the first systematic analysis, in cultural terms, of the large and challenging corpus of Greek epic poetry composed between the 1st and the 6th centuries CE. Epic was, for Greeks throughout antiquity, the most prestigious literary form, the apex of the hierarchy of genres. Through it they articulated their conceptions of war, empire, mortality, religion, gender, the natural order, psychology and cultural identity. Given the immense transformations that this era saw – the emergence of Rome as the head of a world empire, the subsequent shift to Constantinople, Christianisation, the laying of the social foundations for mediaeval Europe – its epic poetry offers an invaluable dossier, an unparalleled opportunity to explore the worldview of a highly erudite culture that was at once saturated in the literary paradigms of the distant past and facing a rapidly changing future.

Contact: Tim Whitmarsh ()

 

Personnel

EmmaEmma Greensmith is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and a member of Peterhouse. She received a first-class degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge, and recently completed her M.Phil, also at Cambridge, on an AHRC scholarship. Having initially focused on Homeric epic for her M.Phil, she then became interested in the Posthomerica of Quintus Smyrnaeus, a fascinating epic from the late Imperial period which poses as a sequel to the Iliad. During the project she will expand on this interest, and will write her PhD thesis on religious dynamics in the Posthomerica. She is particularly concerned with unlocking the cultural significance of Quintus’ (ab)use of Homer’s gods when set against the backdrop of wider religious change in late antiquity.

EmilyEmily Kneebone is a Co-Investigator on the project and Director of Studies and College Lecturer in Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has published articles on imperial Greek poetry and prose, and is currently writing a monograph on Oppian’s Halieutica. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of ancient didactic poetry, in the cultural geography of later Greek epic and in representations of the non-human animal in imperial Greek literature.

LauraDr Laura Miguélez-Cavero is Co-Investigator on the project and a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College (Oxford). She specialises in late antique Greek epic and is particularly keen on Triphiodorus, Nonnus and fragmentary poems extant on papyrus. Laura is currently working on different aspects in which the Imperial hexametric production reflects the socio-cultural atmosphere which produced it. For a complete list of publications click here

TimTim Whitmarsh is Principal Investigator of the project, and A. G. Leventis Professor of Ancient Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of St John’s College. He has previously held professorial positions in the universities of Exeter and Oxford. A specialist particularly in later Greek literature, he has published a number of books including Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitations (Oxford, 2001), Ancient Greek Literature (Cambridge, 2004), The Second Sophistic (Cambridge, 2005), Narrative and Identity in the Ancient Greek Novel (Cambridge, 2011), Beyond the Second Sophistic (Berkeley, 2013) and Battling the Gods: The Struggle against Religion in the Ancient World (London, 2015).

Latest news

Regius Professorship of Greek

16 January 2023

The Faculty is delighted to announce that Professor Tim Whitmarsh FBA has been elected Regius Professor of Greek from 1 April 2023. He is currently the A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University. Looking ahead to his new role, Professor Whitmarsh commented: ’I am thrilled and honoured to be taking up this...

Mary Beard receives THE Outstanding Achievement Award

18 November 2022

Professor Mary Beard received the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards . The citation hailed how she had “broken through the ivory tower’s walls and brought her unique enthusiasm for her subject – and crucially, what it can teach us about contemporary life and politics – to the world”...

University Assistant Professorship in Classics

15 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is seeking to appoint an Assistant Professor in Classics (Ancient Greek History and/or Archaeology) from 1 September 2023. The role is open to those, at any stage in their career, with a primary research interest in Archaic/Classical/Hellenistic Greek History and/or Archaeology. We welcome...

Brian Leech Memorial Fund

10 November 2022

The Faculty of Classics is delighted to announce the establishment of the Brian Leech Memorial Fund. The Fund comes about thanks to a generous donation by Emma Gleave, and is made in memory of her late father, Brian Leech. Brian Leech had a long and successful career as both barrister and judge. He also greatly enjoyed classical studies – with a life-long passion for ancient Greek and Latin languages.