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CALL. 30.09.2020: [PANEL 12] "Literary Criticism in Ancient Historiography" (CCAH) - Coimb




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal)


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Studies on ancient literary criticism focus almost exclusively on the analysis of poetical and rhetorical treatises or on grammatical and philological writings. However, historiography, geography and chronography often deal with the same problems and use the same methods employed in ancient literary criticism. In fact, the works of historians and geographers provide not only vital information on literary works and authors, but also invaluable and original evaluations of ancient literature. On the one hand, it is worth recalling that most of the chronological information on the lives of ancient Greek and Roman authors has been handed down in the Chronicon of Eusebius/St Jerome. On the other hand, one should consider the exceptionally useful evidence for a history of ancient literature and culture provided by Velleius Paterculus, as well as the cultural history of various cities of the oikoumene in Strabo’s geographical œuvre in the Augustan age. The aim of our panel is to examine the place of literature in ancient historiography, which, for the purpose of the present panel, should include geographic, chronographic and biographic works. The following research themes will be considered: 1) The role and function of ancient literature in Greek and Latin historiography. It is not unusual for ancient historians to include in their narratives various considerations on previous literary works. The analysis of the deeds of certain individuals and of their relationship with the historical contexts often reveal important ways of approaching ancient literature. Examples are provided in the already mentioned literary excursus in Velleius Paterculus’ historical work, as well as by Tacitus in the sections that he devotes to the lives of Seneca and Petronius and the historical, political and cultural environment in which they operated. 2) Mutual interactions between historical and philological approaches. The historian’s use of a source or the analysis of a document involves the same tools, methods and approaches employed by a philologist. The importance of the development of ancient scholarship for historical, geographical and biographical works has been rightly acknowledged. The ancient biographical tradition, in particular, displays the Hellenistic scholars’ attempt to link the authors of literary works with their historical context as a key to the understanding of the character and aims of their works. 3) Common ground in the historical and rhetorical works written by the same author. It is well known that the strict modern division of literary genres is often inadequate and misleading. An author can at the same time produce historical as well as grammatical works: mutual influences between the two writings could be detected. The best example is offered by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the author of an extensive work on Roman history and of rhetorical treatises where he shows a strong awareness of historical and cultural issues (this is clearly evident, for example, in his introduction to the treatises on ancient orators, in the On Dinarchus and in his treatment of the orations of Demosthenes). These are some of the possible approaches to a wide and complex issue – i.e. the presence and function of literary criticism in ancient historiography (including works of geography, chronography and biography) – which has not yet received proper consideration. Speakers are invited to present papers of up to 20 minutes duration. Papers can be given in English, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. The panel, consisting of 10-12 speakers, will be an opportunity to discuss, in a diachronic perspective, a number of Greek and Latin authors (from Herodotus to St Jerome), in an attempt to bridge the gap between different ancient literary genres in order to identify common threads, comparable methodologies, as well as divergent approaches to ancient literature.

Please send a proposed title and abstract of up to 250 words to and by 30 September 2020. Abstracts should have: - Title of communication - E-mail - University - Abstracts (max 250 words) - Keywords (5 to 10 words)

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