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CALL. 31.05.2020: Leadership values and genre interactions in Antiquity - London (England)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Room G35, Senate House, London (London, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr Andreas Gavrielatos; Dr Emma Nicholson



Nowadays, the characteristics of ideal leadership constitute a major field of research in disciplines like politics, management, and psychology. A leader’s relationship with their people or the members of their team, the knowledge and expertise required to lead a group effectively, as well as the capability of a leader to manage the internal and external changes of a group, are fundamental for successful leadership. A charismatic leader also needs to be adaptable, considerate and manifest the various values and principles that different times and circumstances demand, to inspire people to action or restraint, to prioritize the common good over popularity with the masses, to be receptive to criticism and seek self-improvement. Of course, all these presuppose critical thinking, self-criticism and self-sacrifice.

Leading figures from the ancient world pervade all genres of classical literature and are often the subject of research in scholarship. The characteristics of an ideal leader have been the subject of research vis a vis the specific historical circumstances, their legacy, the authors’ own biases, and the demands of specific genres. As a result, a leader can be either praised or censored depending on the nature of the genre and the attitude of the writer, whereas it is often the case that leadership values are not attributed to a certain individual but described in more theoretical or conceptual ways. What is interesting – yet not fully examined – about the presentation of leadership values in antiquity are the interactions between different literary genres, authors and texts. Thus, a historian like Polybius may be influenced by Plato and Aristotle’s political philosophy, whilst a poet like Lucan may be influenced by Stoic teachings. Alongside intertextual relationships, this fruitful dialogue also reveals aspects of the conceptualization of leadership and the ideals a leader needs to aspire to in different temporal and literary contexts, sometimes even contradicting each other.

With this short description, we would like to invite participants to a conference that aims to explore these interactions from the perspective of good leadership and exploit literary evidence that spans from Homer to the authors of Late Antiquity. Areas of questioning may be (but are by no means limited to):

- Interactions, intersections and Intertextuality: Philosophical influences in the portrayal of leaders in historiography, philosophy’s treatment of historical figures with respect to the relevant events, etc.

- Exemplarity: Exempla of leadership in various genres and/or authors and their interrelations

- Poetic representations: The ways in which presentations of leading figures in poetry like Lucan’s Caesar and Vergil’s Aeneas are influenced by principles of leadership from Historiography and/or Philosophy

- Praise VS contempt: Different attitudes towards same modes of leadership in different genres and the interpretation of this relation (e.g. between epic and satire, tragedy and comedy)

- Reception of leadership values: the reception of good leadership descriptions in authors like Homer or Plato by later authors

Please, send your abstracts (300 words) to any of or both the organizers: Dr Andreas Gavrielatos (a.gavrielatos@reading) and Dr Emma Nicholson ( no later than 31 May 2020.

Date: 27-28 November 2020

Venue: Room G35, Senate House, London

Keynote speakers to be confirmed

The conference will be held with the support of the Institute of Classical Studies (

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