Another week came to an end with an exciting new meeting of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar. We started with Charles Northrop and his very exciting talk entitled ‘Can Time Be a Character?: Personification and Time in Ovid’s Metamorphoses‘. Charles started by pointing out the conspicuous lack of time indicators in the epic, going on to focus on three key passages for the representation of time in the Metamorphoses: Phaethon’s visit to the palace of the Sun, Pythagoras’ speech and Ovid’s own sphragis in the epilogue of the poem. Charles showed how time (or, perhaps more correctly, Time) in these episodes is either personified or anthropomorphised, thus becoming an agent throughout the Metamorphoses. Charles’ paper concluded by showing that time, although appearing to be near-absent, is in fact of great significance for our understanding of various episodes in the poem as it becomes the force that explains the very act of metamorphosis.
Max Leventhal then followed with a snippet on ‘Virgil and Eratosthenes at the Limits of Intertextuality’. Max started by explaining to those ignorant among us who Eratosthenes actually was. The answer to that proved to be a ‘Human Extraordinaire’: librarian in the greatest library of all (after the UL, of course), the Library of Alexandria, but also a mathematician, poet, astronomer, geographer … In fact, so many were his talents that his fan-club nicknamed him the pentathlete, whereas his enemies (read: those who were jealous of him) called him ‘Beta‘, the man who is second best at everything. Max went on to mention a few puzzling instances in Virgil’s Georgics that seem to be intertextual references to Eratosthenes’ Hermes. The question that arose was: are these references enough to connect the Georgics and Eratosthenes’ Hermes? A lively discussion followed, but the question remains unanswered to this day.
As always, the seminar was followed by a visit to the Red Bull for drinks and dinner. We look forward to seeing you all again next week with two fascinating papers: Claire Jackson will be speaking about Ancient Fiction and Forgery in Antonius Diogenes, followed by Elena Giusti and ‘Persian Dido’.
ps. For those of you who were anxiously waiting to hear Josh Pugh Ginn talking to us about the Death of M. Claudius Marcellus, fear not! Unforeseen circumstances have forced us to reshuffle the schedule a bit, but Josh will be with us later this term. The updated schedule will be circulated shortly.
Until then, valete!