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CALL. 31.12.2020: Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Crisis and Resilience - Groningen (Netherlands)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Groningen (Groningen, Netherlands) - Online

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr. J.J.H.Klooster (University of Groningen)



Crises come in many forms. War, famine and illness plague humanity, and severe personal crises (conflict, rejection, loss) are also an integral part of human condition. The challenge for individuals has always been to overcome crisis, both on a global and on a personal level. In different ages, such resilience has looked different. It can take the form of increased religiosity, superstition, or attempts at magic; it may express itself in increased violence and revenge, or reconciliation. And of course a turn to different forms of philosophy: the Hellenistic age is especially famous for Epicureanism and Stoicism, propagating peace of mind through ataraxia and apatheia. These philosophies affected the literature of the age: it has been suggested that Epicureanism influenced Theocritean poetry; Stoic backgrounds colour Aratus’ Phaenomena and Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus. But beyond philosophy, individual emotional coping mechanisms may be imagined: practical solutions to global crises (migration, rebuilding of cities, peace treaties) or emotional responses to personal crises (e.g., denial, aggression, apology, appeasement, forgiveness and mourning rituals).

This Groningen Hellenistic Workshop will focus on crisis and resilience as depicted in Hellenistic Poetry. Can we find echoes of this topic in Hellenistic poetry, and what realities do they reflect? We can think, for instance, of the aftermath of personal and political conflict: revenge, flight and ritual purification (Argonautica); attempts to reach peace of mind after heartbreak (Theocritus, epigram); the appeasing of angered divinities (Callimachus’ Hymns).

Potential key issues: the influence of philosophical tenets on depictions of (personal) resilience in Hellenistic poetry; the role of Ptolemaic ideology in coping with crises; the role of gods and religion; the diverse emotional and rational mechanisms that emerge as responses to crises; intertextual approaches to earlier treatments of crisis and resilience; the metapoetical dimensions of resilience (to what extent is poetry a solution to personal and other crises?). But of course the theme is not limited to this, and we welcome further suggestions along these lines.

Scholars who wish to contribute a paper to the workshop are requested to send an e-mail to with the title of their paper and a brief abstract (1 page) by 31 December 2020 and, when their offer is accepted, to send a PDF of the complete text of the paper by 1 May 2021, so that it can be distributed among the participants well in advance of the workshop. During the workshop itself there will be time for a short introduction (ca. 10 minutes) followed by extensive discussion of the paper (ca. 35 minutes). The papers will be published in a volume of the series Hellenistica Groningana by Peeters (Leuven). They should not be longer than 20 pages.

Those who wish to take part in the discussions without contributing a paper or wish to act as a respondent are requested to send an e-mail to before 1 April 2021.

In case the conference is on site, speakers are requested to seek funding for travel and accommodation from their own institution first. We hope to be able to cover part of the travel and accommodation expenses of speakers whose universities are unable to cover their costs in full. Should this situation apply to you, please let us know once your abstract has been accepted. Other participants (including respondents) should provide their own funds and budget for a conference fee of €100 (€50 for students), which covers catering (tea, coffee and lunches) and documentation.

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