CALL. 20.12.2015: Myth and History in the Historiography of Early Rome (9th Celtic Conference in Cla
FECHA LÍMITE/DEADLINE/SCADENZA: 20/12/2015
FECHA CONGRESO/CONGRESS DATE/DATA CONGRESSO: 22-23-24-25/06/2016
LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)
ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Douglas Cairns ; Anton Powell ; Alan Ross ; Alexander Thein
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“Since myth and history were separated, the two have existed in symbiosis, and can only be understood in mutual relation” (Fowler 2015).
In a series of recent studies, Robert Fowler has significantly reappraised the significance of myth in Greek historiography in a direction which is distinct from both positivist positions (e.g. “one can sharply divide myth and history”) and postmodernist criticisms (e.g. “as historical knowledge is problematic, myth and history are just different forms of narrative”). According to Fowler, myth and history are two of many ways of representing the past, and a new approach to myth in historiography would consist in looking at the way in which different mythical stories are used by different historians, the contexts in which they employed them, and their purpose.
Proposals are accepted for a panel on Myth and History in the Historiography of Early Rome at the 9th Celtic Conference in Classics, which will take place at University College Dublin, 22-25 June 2016. This panel proposes to look at the myth/history distinction with regard to the historiography of early Rome through four different areas of investigation.
The first area is the beginning of Roman historiography. The relative lateness of Roman historical writing represents a first reason why it is so important to think about the myth-history relation: when Fabius Pictor wrote his history at the end of the third century BC he was writing about events as early as four centuries before him. The Romans, however, certainly had been thinking about their past for a long time before Fabius, and represented it through monuments, inscriptions, and other written and unwritten media. How did Fabius and the other early Roman historians deal with these ways of representing the past, once faced with the myth-history distinction of Greek historiography? Is it possible to draw a distinction of genre between Greek and Roman historiography in their dealing with myths?
The second area is the analysis of the sharp difference in strategies and purposes one finds between our extant sources. Looking at our longest surviving narratives, the almost contemporaries Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, one finds extremely different strategies of dealing with myths. Whereas Livy shows a deep scepticism regarding the stories of Aeneas, the Alban kings and the kings of Rome, Dionysius is much more engaged with myths and occasionally classifies them as reliable using different strategies. Although they deal with the same stories and report them in a similar way, their purposes and views of the past are radically different, with Livy accepting thetopos of an early pristine and pure Roman society, uncorrupted by Greek luxury, and Dionysius attempting to demonstrate quite the opposite: a substantial original Greekness of the Romans.
The third area of investigation is the way in which the categories of myth and history were conceived in non-historiographical writings, and especially late republican authors like Varro and Cicero. They both seem to represent myth and history as two of a number of ways of classifying the past and narrating it, in a way which shows occasional shifts of genre and subject matter – for example, for Cicero historia is the subject of “true histories”, but then he quotes as example the Annals of Ennius. This can provide essential information on conceptions of history and myth which must have also been familiar to historians, and can lead to a better understanding of their strategies.
A fourth area that the panel wishes to investigate is the importance of mythical stories of early Roman history for the development of modern categories of myth and history. During the 18th century, French scholars like Pouilly and Beaufort defined positive historical reliability with Livy at hand. Likewise, Vico and Heyne created modern mythography reading Livy and commenting on the Aeneid. These classically educated scholars represent milestones of modern thought on history and myth, which, although continuously reappraised in 19th and 20th centuries, still finds its roots in their writings. But how accurate were their readings and interpretations of ancient texts, and to what extent are modern categories based on potential misrepresentations and partial readings?
The panel will consist of 12-15 speakers. The format of the papers is 35-40 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of discussion, but shorter papers (20 + 10) are also accepted. It is expected that the proceedings will be published. Abstracts of up to 400 words should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 20 December 2015. The languages of the conference are English and French. Postgraduate students and early career scholars are welcome to apply! Confirmed speakers include Prof Tim Cornell (University of Manchester) and Dr Ed Bispham (University of Oxford).