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Ἀρχή and origo: The Power of Origins - 02-03-04/05/2019, Newcastle (England)





Origins have a particular power. Arguments referring back to the first beginnings and relating them to the present tend to be especially attractive. When we’re in a new place or confronted with new phenomena, we have a natural urge to learn about their origins. Stories of this kind – the so-called aitia – can convey a sense of education, of venerable antiquity, of continuity, of religious awe, or they can just be entertaining. In any case, they are as prominent nowadays as they were in antiquity.



FECHA/DATE/DATA: 02-03-04/05/2019


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Newcastle University (Newcastle, England)







Se ruega enviar un email a /please contact /sono pregati di inviare una e-mail a  o




Thursday, 2. May:

9.00-9.30: Welcome and Introductions
- Nigel Harkness, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Humanities and 
Social Sciences
- Helen Berry, Head of School of History, Classics and Archaeology
- Anke Walter and Athanassios Vergados (conference organisers)

9.30-10.40: Panel 1, Chair: Claire Stocks
- Jenny Strauss Clay (University of Virginia): “Si[gh]ting Origins”
- Niall Slater (Emory University): “Comic Cosmogonies, Re-booting the 

10.40-11.00: coffee break

11.00-12.10: Panel 2, Chair: Emilio Zucchetti
- Claudio Barone (Palermo): “‘Cosmogonies’ in Ovid’s Metamorphoses”
- Philipp Geitner (Technische Universität Dresden): “Ovid’s an-archic time 
in the Metamorphoses – a refusal to create origins?”

12.10-14.00: lunch break

14.00-14.35: Panel 3, Chair: Anke Walter
- Alexander Kirichenko (Humboldt Universität Berlin): “Ab origine mundi: 
Aetiology and Poetic Creation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses”

14.35-15.00 coffee break

15.00-16.10 Panel 4, Chair: Anke Walter
- Darja Šterbenc Erker (Humboldt-Universität Berlin): “Religious aetiology 
in Ovid’s Fasti”
- John Miller (University of Virginia): “Animating Variant Aetiologies in 
Ovid’s Fasti”

16.10-16.30: coffee break

16.30-17.40: Panel 5, Chair: Athanassios Vergados
- Ilaria Andolfi (Universität Heidelberg): “Who Came First? “Genealogical 
thinking” in and outside genealogical literature”
- Volker Bauer (Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel): “Origin as a problem 
of princely genealogies and the role of images in the early modern Holy 
Roman Empire“

17.40-19.00: wine and cheese reception

Friday, 3 May:
9.00-9.30: Information on the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and its 

9.30-10.40: Panel 1, Chair: Andrew Faulkner
- Matthew Pincus (University of Virginia): “πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς: Beginning in the 
middle in Plato and the Greek poetic tradition”
- Sarah Teets (University of Virginia): “In the Beginning: The competitive 
origins of Greek and Jewish historiography in Josephus’ Against Apion”

10.40-11.00: coffee break

11.00-11.40: Panel 2, Chair: Athanassios Vergados
- Chiara Grigolin (Durham University): “Reinterpreting the origins of the 
plain of Apamea in Syria in the third century AD”

11.40-13.00: lunch break

13.00-14.10: Panel 3, Chair: John F. Miller
- Andreas Zanker (Amherst): “Horace and the Beginnings of Rome“
- Anna Lefteratou (Universität Heidelberg): “The ‘original’ sin and the 
‘original’ proem: narrating the Fall in the I Homeric Centos 33-92”

14.10-14.30: coffee break

14.30-15.40: Panel 4, Chair: Jenny Strauss Clay
- Eva Noller (Universität Heidelberg): “The space of origins. Pliny’s 
Naturalis Historia and the encyclopaedic mode of aetiology”
- Anke Walter (Newcastle University): “Aetia of the past: stories of origin 
in Silius Italicus’ Punica”

15.40-16.00: coffee break

16.00-17.10: Panel 5, Chair: Elizabeth Cooper
- Claudia Zatta (University of Siena): “A New Beginning: Aristotle and the 
birth of zoology”
- Sergey Vorontsov (Saint-Tikhon Orthodox University Moscow): “The meaning 
and functions of origo in the works of Isidore of Seville”

Saturday, 4 May:
9.00-10.10: Panel 1, Chair: Amy Houghton
- Athanassios Vergados (Newcastle University): “Etymology and aetiology in 
Hellenistic and Imperial didactic poetry”
- Jay Fisher (Rutgers University): “An empire of origins: Varro, etymology, 
and empire”

10.10-10.20: coffee break

10.20-11.30 Panel 2, Chair: Anke Walter
- Emilia Jamroziak (University of Leeds): “The power of origins in the 
medieval monastic culture: Cistercian monks and nuns and modern 
- Arnold Bartetzky (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern 
Europe, Leipzig): “Myths of National Origins in Eastern Europe. 
Historiographical concepts, artistic representations and political 

11.30-11.45: coffee break



11.45-13.15: concluding discussion (Andrew Faulkner, Waterloo)


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