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CALL. 01.03.2021: [PANEL 9] Greek Tragedy in the Early Empire(2022 AIA/SCS) - San Francisco(CA, USA)





ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Anna Peterson (The Pennsylvania State University); Zoe Stamatopoulou (Washington University in St. Louis); Jeffrey Beneker (University of Wisconsin, Madison)



Following is the call for papers for a panel organized by the USA section of the International Plutarch Society. The panel will be part of the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies, January 5-8, 2022, in San Francisco, California.

Greek Tragedy in the Early Empire

Sponsored by the International Plutarch Society. Organized by Anna Peterson (The Pennsylvania State University), Zoe Stamatopoulou (Washington University in St. Louis), and Jeffrey Beneker (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

In the final scene of Plutarch’s Crassus, the Roman general’s decapitated head famously serves as a prop in a tragic actor’s gruesome re-enactment of the climax of Euripides’ Bacchae. This scene, which represents the culmination of a broader comparison of Crassus and Pentheus (Braund 1993; Zadorojnyi 1997), exemplifies Plutarch’s ability to use tragedy to delineate a character for his readers and to help them draw moral lessons (De Lacy 1952; Mossman 1988 and 1992; Pelling 1988). Plutarch is, of course, not alone in repurposing tragic language and characters. In Oration 52, Dio Chrysostom capitalizes on a moment of illness to offer an assessment of the various Philoctetes plays by the three major tragedians, while in Oration 59 he offers a prose paraphrase of the opening of Euripides’ version. Likewise, Lucian supplements his repertoire of tragic words, quotations, and allusions (cf. Karavas 2005, Schmitz 2010) with the paratragic spoof Gout. Yet, as much as Plutarch and his near contemporaries treat tragedy as a relic from a revered past, epigraphic evidence and the survival of several verses from two first-century tragedies (TGF 1.180 and 1.185) make it likely that tragic performances—both revivals and the production of new plays—continued in some form or another (cf. Fugmann 1988; Heldman 2000; Graf 2015). Thus tragedy in both its old and new forms remained a part of the Greek literary and cultural environment during the Early Empire.

This panel aims to explore the place of Greek tragedy in the culture of the Early Empire and in particular to shed new light on the engagement of prose authors with this genre. To this end, we invite papers that explore tragedy’s diverse representations and appropriations. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • literary allusions to, adaptations and quotations of Greek tragedy in the works of Plutarch, Dio, Lucian, Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, and others;

  • ancient scholarship on Greek tragedy;

  • evidence of contemporary reading practices;

  • anecdotes about playwrights, tragic actors, or performances;

  • the use of tragedy in decorative arts;

  • epigraphic evidence for tragic performances in the Imperial period;

  • criticism of tragedy;

  • early Christian appropriations of tragedy.

While some preference may be given to papers that explore the use of tragedy by Plutarch and his contemporary Greek Imperial authors, our primary goal is to assemble a collection of papers that consider tragedy’s place in Imperial culture holistically.

Abstracts should be sent electronically, in MS Word format or PDF, to Jeffrey Beneker ( In preparing the abstract, please follow the formatting guidelines for individual abstracts that appear on the Society for Classical Studies web site, and plan for a paper that takes no more than 20 minutes to deliver. Abstracts will be judged anonymously. Membership in the International Plutarch Society is not required for participation in this panel, but all presenters must be members of the SCS. The deadline is March 1, 2021.

More information about the annual meeting of the SCS:

Guidelines for writing abstracts:

The International Plutarch Society:

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