Course: Greece in Rome

Classicism and Cultural Interaction

Date: 9-23 November 2015

Deadline for applications: 15 September 2015

MA/PhD course in Rome and Naples, in collaboration with OIKOS and the NWO-VIDI program ‘Greek Criticism and Latin Literature’ (Leiden University)

‘Rome was always a Greek city.’ That is the claim advanced by the Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1st cent. BC). Although few modern scholars would entirely accept his bold argument, Dionysius’ interest in the Greekness of Rome has found much resonance in current research in classics, history and archaeology. Nothing was more prominent in Rome than the culture of Greece. In the streets of Rome one would see Greek clothes and hear the Greek language. Greek sculpture adorned the villas on the Palatine as well as public buildings. Homer, Demosthenes and Plato were popular reading, and kept inspiring Latin poetry, oratory and philosophy. The overwhelming presence of Greece in Rome provoked both criticism and enthusiasm. On the one hand, Romans associated Greek culture with a softening, decadent lifestyle, which was thought to be incompatible with Roman moral standards. On the other hand, Greece was regarded as Rome’s cultural guide: the poet Horace famously pointed out that ‘captive Greece captured her rude conqueror and brought the arts into rustic Latium’.

Greek culture had its impact on Rome from the earliest period known to us. From the second century BC, numerous doctors, grammarians, rhetoricians and philosophers came from all parts of the Greek-speaking world to Rome, where they introduced their Roman patrons to Greek paideia. With the emergence of ‘classicism’ in the first century BC, the interaction between Greece and Rome received a new dimension: Rome was now presented as the natural successor of 5th-4th century Athens, while classical Greek culture became the dominant model for Roman literature, philosophy, art and architecture. A key text for our understanding of classicism is Dionysius’ treatise On the Ancient Orators, which argues that emperor Augustus put an end to a period of cultural decline by restoring the civilization of classical Athens. If Rome was Athens revived, Augustus could be presented as Pericles reborn.

In recent years, historians and archaeologists have paid due attention to aspects of ‘Hellenisation’ and questions of Greek identity in Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome. Where the contact between Greek and Roman culture within Rome has traditionally been presented in terms of a Graeco-Roman ‘fusion’, historians and archaeologists have recently introduced the useful model of dialectical and reciprocal exchange: Greek and Roman culture ‘do not fuse (…) but enter into a vigorous and continuous process of dialogue with one another’ (Wallace-Hadrill 2008, 23).

In this course we will examine the dialogue between Greece and Rome from a multidisciplinary perspective, combining archaeology, art history, literature, rhetoric and philosophy. Special attention will be paid to Greek and Roman forms of classicism. Topics will include the intertextuality between Greek and Latin poetry, the Roman imitation of Greek art and architecture, Cicero’s reception of Greek philosophy, and the Roman admiration for Greek oratory (Atticism). For each discipline a specialist will be present.

The course will concentrate on the Republic and early Empire, but we will also compare the cultural exchange between Greece and Rome in later periods: in the Renaissance such Byzantine scholars as Ianus Lascaris and Bessarion settled in Italy, where they taught and edited classical Greek texts, thus forming a bridge between East and West.’

The program will include an excursion to the (Greek) city of Naples, where the participants will be introduced to the charred papyrus rolls discovered at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. These rolls come from a Greek library associated with the Greek poet, philosopher, and rhetorician Philodemus of Gadara, who was the teacher of Virgil. In early 2015, a new technology managed to reveal part of the texts without unrolling the precious Greek papyri.

Dr. C.C. de Jonge (Leiden University); Dr. J. Pelgrom (KNIR); Prof. dr. K.A. Algra (Utrecht University); Prof. dr. E.M. Moormann (Radboud University Nijmegen); Dr. H. Lamers (Humboldt University Berlin); Dr. B.L. Reitz-Joosse (University of Groningen)

Target Group
MA/PhD students in Classics, (Ancient) History, Archaeology, Philosophy

The maximum number of participants is 10.

9-23 November 2015

Form of education
On-site classes, library assignments, excursions

Participating students will receive free tuition, accommodation in Rome and Napels, and excursions (including most entry fees for museums and archaeological sites). After successful completion of the final paper, travel costs will be reimbursed up to €100,-

The study load is the equivalent of 6 ECTS (168 hours). Each student should arrange with his/her home coordinator whether the course can be a part of the existing curriculum. After successful completion of the course the KNIR provides a certificate mentioning study load and evaluation.

The study load is based on:

a)    Before arriving in Rome: independent study of course material and preparatory assignment: 1 ECTS (28 hours)

b)    Classes and excursions in Rome and surrounding (14 days): active participation, presentation and draft essay: 4 ECTS (112 hours)

c)    After Rome: (deadline 30 November 2015): essay: 1 ECTS (28 hours)

Application and admission
The master class is a selective course with a maximum of 10 participants. The selection of participants is based on grades, the positioning of the course in the student’s curriculum, and a letter of motivation.

Students can apply via the link below; include in your application:
b) a letter of motivation
c) a cv
a) for MA students: a recent list of grades officially supplied by your university

More info

Apply before
15 September 2015