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Inventing origins. The function of Aetiology in Antiquity - 17-18-19/11/2016, Leiden (Netherlands)

At this conference we will enquire the ancient phenomenon of aetiology, that is to say the drive to find and devise stories of origin to explain contemporary situations or to promote innovative practices, be they religious, political, literary or other. Although many studies have analysed the occurrence of aetiological motives in various literary and religious texts and contexts, a comprehensive approach that aims to contextualize aetiology and link it to other ancient modes of representing and thinking about the past and about origins has so far been lacking.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 17-18-19/11/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Gravensteen, Leiden University (Leiden, Netherlands)


INFO: web -;

INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: Deadline: 01/11/2016. Detalles aquí /Details here/ Ragguaglio qui

Es necesario mandar un email a los organizadores /Please contact the organizers/ si prega di contattare gli organizzatori: prof. dr. Antje Wessels (; dr. Jacqueline Klooster (

-Asistentes/attendants/assistenti: 25 €

-Estudiantes /students/ studenti: gratis/free/ gratuito. 15 € si desean comidas/ with lunch arrangements/ con arrangiamenti pranzo

PROGRAMA/PROGRAM/PROGRAMMA: disponible también en PDF/ also available in PDF/ anche disponibile in PDF

Thursday, 17 nov 2016

13:45–14:15 registration & tea/coffee

14:15–14:35 welcome/ introduction

14:35–14:40 introduction I

14:40–15:30 Susan Stephens (Stanford, USA): Why ask why? Explaining Callimachus’ Aetia

15:30–16:05 Monica S. Park (Cambridge/Mass., USA): Hellenistic Cultural Methermeneutics: Aetiology and Ethical-political Allegory in Callimachus and Diodorus Siculus

16:05–16:40 Giulia Biffis (Edinburgh/London, GB): Looking at Aetiology to Enlighten Lycophron’s Alexandra, σκοτεινὸν ποίημα

16:40–17:00 koffie/thee

17:00–17:35 Anke Walter (Rostock, D): Aetiology and Historiography in Ephoros and Callimachus

17:35–18:10 Hugo Koning (Leiden, NL): Aetiology and Rationalizing Mythography (on Palaephatus)

18:10–18:55 Irene Polinskaya (London, UK): Non-converging Pasts and Presents: Aetia and Aegina from Pindar to Callimachus.

19:00– drinks

12:00– dinner

Friday, 18 nov 2016

09:00–09:15 tea/ coffee

09:15–09:20 Introduction II

09:20–10:10 Miguel John Versluys (Leiden, NL): Blundering fools and cultural construction. Displaying origins in Hellenistic Eurasia

10:10–10:45 Andrea de March (Leiden, NL): Aetiology in Early Roman Comedy

10:45–11:00 tea/ coffee 11:00–11:35 Alexander Kirichenko (Berlin/Trier, D): Aetiology and Empire: From Callimachus’ Alexandria to Augustan Rome

11:35–12:10 Darja Šterbenc Erker: Religious aetiology in Ovid’s Fasti

12:10–12:20 tea/ coffee

12:20–12:55 Nicolas Wiater (St. Andrews, UK): Aetiology in the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius Halicarnassus: Between Cultural Discourse and Hellenistic Aesthetics

13:00-14:30 lunch; tea/coffee

14:30–15:05 Philip Baas (Tübingen, D): Between Aetiology and Mythography – Augustus’ Concept of the Foundation of Rome

15:05–15:40 Raphael Hunsucker (Nijmegen, NL): Aetiology & Archaeology, Memory & Monuments: Inventing Origins in Augustan Rome 15:40–16:00 tea/ coffee

16:00–16:35 Marco Formisano (Gent, B): Subversive Origins: The Textuality of the Late Antique Origo gentis Romanae

16:35–17:10 Susanna de Beer (Leiden, NL): The Origins of Rome in the Renaissance: Revival, Rejection, Reinvention

17:10–17:55 Martje de Vries (Nijmegen, NL): A Hidden and a Forbidden History: Athanasius Kircher on the Origins of Latium and Etruria

18:00 drinks

19:00 dinner for speakers

Saturday, 19 nov

09:00–09:30 tea/coffee

09:30–09.35 introduction IV

09:35–10:25 Susanne Gödde (Berlin, D): Resistance to Origins – Foundation in Greek Myth and Tragedy 10:25–11:00 Jared Hudson (Cambridge, Mass., USA): Where there’s a Well there’s a Way: puteus, Potentiality, and the Place of Etymology in Varro’s De lingua Latina

11:00–11:20 tea/ coffee

11:20– 11:55 Michiel Meeusen (Leuven, B): Crossing Borders: Aetiologial Overlaps in Plutarch’s Αἰτίαι Φυσικαί 11:55–12:30 Greta Hawes (ANU, AUS): Reasons for Ruins (on Pausanias) 12:30–12:40 contribution lunch 12:40–13:30 Glenn Most (SNS Pisa, I & Chicago, USA): Concluding Discussion and Further Perspectives (& lunch)

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