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CALL. 28.02.2019: [PANEL 5] Song, Lament, Love: Harking Back to the Sounds of Elegy (CCC 2019) - Coi




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Faculdade de Letras - Universidade de Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides (Macquarie University, NSW) ; Bill Gladhill (McGill University) ; Micah Myers (Kenyon College)

INFO: web - ; ;


The nature of archaic Greek elegy and its performative culture, its interface with other Greek literary genres as well as its Hellenistic and Roman adaptation(s) have already commanded an impressive amount of scholarship. Despite, however, appreciating that the functions of elegy were hugely diversified early on (Nagy 2010; Barbantani 2018), despite overcoming the simplistic classification of elegies to subjective and objective (Cairns 1979; Murray 2010; Miller 2012), and even despite doubting Quintilian’s criticism of Propertius as an obscure poet (Inst.Or.10.1.93), foundational questions on the origins, nature, and meaning(s) of Elegy remain unanswered. Elegy, one of the oldest Greek poetic genres, remains the most elusive.

Drawing on Karen Weisman’s definition of post-classical elegy as “the framing of loss” (2010: 1) and on Horace’s appreciation of elegy in connection with mourning and the Greek elegos (AP 75-8), a connection reflected on the lost genre of Roman female poetry called the nenia, the panel aims to reorient research and debates on elegy by focusing on its sounds –mimicked, described, or alluded to– and the emotions they evoke. This alternative perspective on elegy goes beyond generic and metric definitions, seeking instead to uncover the basic sounds (sighing, sobbing, groaning, muttering, etc.) which the Greeks and the Romans identified with elegiac concepts (e.g. love, death, loss) and to reflect on the cultural processes associated with them, especially memorialization and ritualization. By placing elegy in its original context, that of the lived, but unrecorded Greek and later Roman song culture (Habinek 2005; Sbardella 2018), we can reassess its association with Greco-Roman literary genres, all of whom place special emphasis on the sounds of love and death, as well as epigrams, funerary inscriptions and rhetoric. Furthermore, by shifting the methodological focus we can revisit elegy’s connection with issues of gender, including the role and social ramifications of ancient female experience(s).The panel welcomes papers dealing with (but not limited to):

-How did lived, oral song culture influence Greek and/or Roman elegy?

-What methodologies can be used to retrieve oral song cultures from written texts, including elegy?

-Which sounds define the Greek/Roman elegiac experience and how are they represented in other genres?

-What are the emotional and psychological implications of the elegiac experience as the Greeks/Romans conceptualized it?

-What is the connection between Greek/Roman elegy and spirituality?

-How elegiac is Greek/Roman elegy?

-Is there a connection between Greek elegy and Near Eastern song cultures?

-How Roman is the Roman elegiac experience?

The panel hopes to broaden the discussion on elegy by situating it within the wider social and cultural contexts in which it developed. We invite papers on all aspects of Greek and Roman auditory culture as it pertains to expressing sentiments about love, death, loss, life and the afterlife in ancient literature and inscriptions. The central question this panel aims to address is the connection between ancient sound culture and the deeper psycho-social implications of elegy.

Each paper (25 minutes) will be followed by a 10-minute discussion. Abstracts must not exceed 300 words. The submission deadline for abstracts is 28th February 2019. Please include a short biography and specify your affiliation.

Submissions are to be sent to the following address:

Notification of acceptance will be given by 15th March 2019.


Barbantani, S. 2018. “A Survey of Lyric Genres in Hellenistic Poetry: the Hymn Transformation, Adaptation, Experimentation,” Erga-Logoi 6.1: 61-135.

Cairns, F. 1979. Tibullus: A Hellenistic Poet. Cambridge.

Clark, M.E. 1977. “Horace, Ars Poetica 75-78: The Origin and Worth of Elegy,” Classical World 77.1: 1-5.

Dutsch, D. 2008. “Nenia: Gender, Genre and Lament in Ancient Lament,” in A. Suter (ed.), Lament: Studies in Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond, Oxford, 258-279.

Habinek, Th. 2005. The World of Roman Song: From Ritualized Speech to Social Order. Baltimore.

Miller, P.A. 2012. “Introduction,” in P.A. Miller (ed.), Latin Erotic Elegy: An Anthology and Reader, London/New York, 1-36.

Murray, J. 2010. “Hellenistic Elegy: Out from Under the Shadow of Callimachus,” in J.J. Clauss and M. Cuypers (eds), Blackwell Companion to Hellenistic Literature, Oxford, 106-116.

Nagy, G. 2010. “Ancient Greek Elegy,” in K. Weisman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy, Oxford, 13-45.

Sbardella, L. 2018. “Aulodes and Rhapsodes: Performance and Forms of Greek Elegy from Mimnermus to Hermesianax,” Aitia 8.1:

Weisman, K. (ed.) 2010. The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy. Oxford.

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