CAPN Abstract 4: Anna Trostnikova on Piotrovsky’s Catullus

We are delighted that our Classics And Poetry Now workshop on 2 November will have two papers devoted to Soviet Russian poetical engagements with the classical. Soviet Classics is an exciting and growing field within Classical Reception Studies.

Anna Trostnikova is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her paper is entitled: “Attis in 1929: Piotrovsky’s  translation of Catullus 63 in the poetical and political context of early Soviet Russia.” This is how she summarises her presentation:

“In the preface to his translation Adrian Piotrovsky unequivocally states that the aim of his work was to make Catullus’ book a piece of contemporary poetry. In my paper, I analyse the ways in which Piotrovsky made this happen. I concentrate my research on a single poem, the poem which Piotrovsky judged one of the most important in Catullus œuvre — epyllion 63.

Surprisingly Piotrovsky’s interpretation of Catullus’ poem Attis, which is discussed at length in the preface to the book, offers little help in understanding the importance and contemporaneity of the poem in its new Soviet setting. He argued, for example, explicitly against its historical and political contextualisation, and instead presented Attis as a mysterious song about a city man trading in the urban life for one of seclusion in the wild Asian nature. Paradoxically, Piotrovsky’s method of translating this metamorphosis of Attis was, in his own words, an approximation of the poem to forms of old Russian sectarian songs, whose poetics, without doubt,  goes back to the ancient mystic poetry of the East.

By choosing this peculiar source of inspiration for his 1929 translation of Attis into Russian Piotrovsky not only consciously placed his work in the realm of contemporary formalist scholars’ debates on the origins of literary genres, but also, and more importantly, closely engaged with more immediate poetical and political reality.

Trostnikova has generously offered a translation of an extract of Piotrovsky’s Catullus 63 into English (63 lines 1-25):

Attis rushed through the seas on a flying, light bark,
He hurried, swiftly running, into the thicket of Phrygian woods,
Into the mazes of greenwood shaws, to the sacred places of the goddess.
Incited by the raging passion, drunk with impetuous fury,
He whitened with a sharp stone his young body.
And feeling himself light, sensing unmanly flesh,
Aspersing with warm blood the flinty scorched meadow,
He waved in a maidenly hand the sonorous resonant timbrel.
This is your timbrel, Cybebe, your sacred, o mother, timbrel.
In the bull’s hide sunk the fingers. Under the palm [of the hand] the tambourine began to sing.
Yelling, to the obedient friends, the frantic voice appealed:
“Into the mountains, Galli! Into the forest of Cybebe! Into the mazes of the groves, do hurry up in crowds
Into the mountains, Galli! Dyndymos lady’s obedient creatures!
Swarm of exiles, it’s me that you followed towards the alien lands
Rushing you followed my tracks, obeying my speech
The saline waves did not frighten us, unstable trough of the sea did not subvert us.
Disdaining the gift of Venus, you whitened your flesh.
Rejoice, rush swiftly, let the heart leap in the chest.
Oblige the goddess! Hasten, [follow] me, Galli!
Into the Phrygian forest! Into the home of Cybebe! To the sacred Phrygian places!
There rumble resonantly the tambourine, there the cymbals  sonorously sound.
There the round dances of Maenads trample down the grass.
There the Maenads cry, swirling in the frantic dance.
There ramps the goddess’ rave-inspired host
We ought to rush there! For there desire calls us!”

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CAPN Abstract 3: Sabrina Mancuso on Cardarelli’s “Ajace”

The Italian poet and journalist Vincenzo Cardarelli (1887-1959) is the subject of Sabrina Mancuso’s paper at the Classics and Poetry Now Workshop, held at Senate House on 2 November 2017. Mancuso, a PhD student in ancient Greek at the University of Tübingen (Germany), summarises her paper as follows:

“Ajax — compared to the other plays of Sophocles — is a work close to Homeric ethics because of its exaltation of self-affirmation and keen interest in public opinion. The character of the Greek hero Ajax is defined again and again by terms related to “shame”. This paper is a comparison between the concept of shame in Sophocles’ Ajax and in the poem ‘Ajace’ by Vincenzo Cardarelli. Continue reading

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CAPN Abstract 2: Jenny Messenger on Borges’ Neoplatonic Poetry

On Thursday 2nd November at the Classics And Poetry Now workshop in Senate House Jenny Messenger will give a paper called ‘Replete with Reception’. It is about the presence of Plotinus in Borges’ poetry. Messenger summarises her paper as follows:

“Much like a twenty-first century classical reception scholar, Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was endlessly intrigued by the familiarity and distance of the classical past. He made multiple allusions to classical antiquity in his work, enfolding far-flung people, places and concepts into the sphere of a single poem or short story.

Continue reading

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CAPN Abstract 1: Rossana Zetti on Brecht’s Antigone

We are delighted to be able to share with you some information about Rossana Zetti’s forthcoming paper at Classics and Poetry Now 2017 on Thursday 2nd November.

In the run up to the workshop we will share similar information about each paper. The reason for this is, first, to let people know what kind of work is going on in the field, and who is doing it. Secondly, we would like to share the primary materials (i.e. the ancient and modern poems under discussion) so that those who are coming to the workshop can easily read up beforehand.

Rossana Zetti is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh and her paper is entitled:

Ideological and Creative Practice in Brecht’s Re-telling of Antigone’s first stasimon Continue reading

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Classics And Poetry Now, 2nd November 2017, Booking Open

CRSN’s next event will be held at Senate House, London on Thursday 2nd November 2017. It is a Classics And Poetry Now! workshop supported by CRSN, Institute for Classical Studies and Open University, and organised by Henry Stead ( Please contact him with any queries.

For more information about the workshop see the Call for Papers. Attendance is £10 (payable in cash at registration) and spaces are limited, so please book your spot early by emailing Henry. Just send a message with your name, affiliation (if appropriate) and “CAPN2017” in the subject bar and you’ll be on the list.

After the workshop there will be an evening of poems in a nearby pub (The Duke, Doughty Mews, London). Poets Caroline Bird, Amy McCauley and friends will perform their work. This is open to all — a donation of £5 on the door would help towards costs (excluding workshop speakers).

Key texts and information about each paper will be circulated over the coming weeks. Follow CRSN on Twitter to receive updates, and use #CAPN17 to join in the conversation!


PDF available HERE

1030-1100 coffee and welcome

1100-1130 Martina Delucchi, University of Pisa, “Dream is the infinite shadow of Truth” Pascoli’s Alexander: the cosmic vertigo.

1130-1150 Sabrina Mancuso, University of Tübingen, Ajax and shame from Sophocles to Cardarelli. (VIDEO and discussion)

1150-1200 break

1200-1230 Rossana Zetti, University of Edinburgh, Ideological and Creative Practice in Brecht’s Re-telling of Antigone’s first Stasimon.

1230-1300 Jenny Messenger, University of St. Andrews, Replete with Reception: Borges and Plotinus.

1300-1400 lunch

1400-1430 Anna Trostnikova, Royal Holloway, University of London, Attis in 1929: 
Piotrovsky’s translation of Catullus 63 in poetical and political context of early Soviet Russia.

1430-1500 Hanna Paulouskaya, Faculty of “Artes Liberales” of the University of Warsaw, Mayakovsky vs Horace.

1500-1510 break

1510-1540 Holly Ranger, Saviana Stanescu’s encounters with Ovid.

1540-1610 Amy McCauley, Oedipa and the Uses of Tragedy.

1610-1630 break

1630-1730 Round Table Discussion led by Lorna Hardwick, Open University.

1930-2100ish Poems in the Pub: Caroline Bird, Amy McCauley and Special Guests — All welcome for after party in The Duke, Doughty Mews, London.

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AMPRAW: updated CFP

We’re delighted to share this updated CFP for this year’s AMPRAW conference, which includes more details on confirmed speakers and funding sources. 

We are pleased to announce that the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews and the University of Glasgow, will host the Seventh Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World (AMPRAW) from 23-24 November 2017. This conference is generously supported by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology (University of Edinburgh), the School of Classics (University of St Andrews), the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies (SPHS), the Classical Association (CA) and the Classical Association of Scotland (CAS).

The central theme of AMPRAW 2017 is the concept of community. In 450/451 BC Pericles passed a law delineating stricter requirements for obtaining Athenian citizenship, and in doing so described his vision of community. In 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union, a decision that will continue to have a significant impact on the concept of ‘community’ for UK citizens. Recent political and socio-economic developments worldwide have put notions of what it means to be part of a particular community, and also the concept of the community itself, under increased scrutiny. This conference will therefore explore how definitions of community (geographical, artistic, intellectual, political, cultural and economic) have been shaped and complicated by classical works and/or how classical receptions have prompted and continue to prompt new insight into community groups. Through contributions from Classics and other, related disciplines (including History, Archaeology, Philosophy, Art History, Epigraphy and Palaeography), the conference will emphasise the ways in which classical works can be used not only to comment on and engage with concepts of community, but also to shape communities from within. Since the conference focuses on reception, papers addressing topics in Late Antiquity, Byzantine and Medieval Studies are welcome as well.

In addition to chaired panels, AMPRAW 2017 will feature a graduate panel on networking and career in collaboration with the Classical Reception Studies Network (CRSN) as well as three key note lectures by Professor Douglas L. Cairns (University of Edinburgh), Professor Patrick J. Finglass (University of Bristol) and Emeritus Professor Lorna Hardwick (Open University). Other confirmed speakers are Dr. Lilah Grace Canevaro, Dr. Christian Djurslev and the British playwright Zinnie Harris. Moreover, for the first time in the history of the AMPRAW conference, we aim to publish a selection of papers in a peer-reviewed edition. More information on this will be made available later.

Those wishing to present a paper of 20 minutes should please submit an abstract of up to 200 words outlining the proposed subject of their presentation, as well as their affiliation, to by 3 September 2017. For further information, you can also contact Mark Huggins ( or Jenny Messenger ( Thanks to the support of the SGSAH, the SPHS and the CA, a number of small travel bursaries for doctoral researchers based both in Scotland and further afield are available.


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Tony Keen: Designing a Classics and Cinema Module

This spring I returned to teaching Roehampton’s third-year Classics and Cinema module. It was to teach this that I’d first come to Roehampton, though after a couple of presentations I’d been lured away by the prospect of teaching an MRes Theories and Methods module.

I inherited this module from the much-missed Rosemary Barrow, at quite short notice. So I was very much tied into Rosemary’s structure and her choice of movies, though, of course, I taught those in my own style. As an art historian, Rosemary had been particularly interested in links between painting and cinema; as someone who’s taught film history, I’m interested in placing movies in their wider cinematic context.

This year, I had more of a lead-in, and so could make the module much more my own. This didn’t mean tearing it down and building it up again from scratch. There was much I wanted to keep from my previous versions, and I could also draw upon what had been done by my colleagues Marta Garcia-Morcíllo and Anastasia Bakogianni, who’d taught it in the intervening years. Continue reading

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AMPRAW Call for Papers: ‘Community’

We are delighted to announce our call for papers for the seventh Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in the Reception of the Ancient World (AMPRAW), focusing on the theme of “community”.

AMPRAW, an important academic event both within and outside the UK, is an annual postgraduate conference centred on the reception and impact of the ancient world on modern thought and identities. Since its inception in 2011, AMRAW has helped to establish an international postgraduate community for researchers interested in Classical Reception Studies. AMPRAW has been held at different institutions around the UK (though never in Scotland), and is dedicated to fostering and strengthening connections between postgraduates, ECRs, established academics, and practitioners working in Classical Reception.

Continue reading

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We are excited to announce our forthcoming workshop in the reception of the ancient Greek and Roman classics in 20th- and 21st-century poetry.

This one-day workshop will be a collaboration with Classics And Poetry Now (CAPN), an international project designed to foster long-term, collaborative research in the field, led by Prof Lorna Hardwick (Open University), and the Institute of Classical Studies.

It is aimed specifically at Postgraduate and Early Career post-doctoral researchers* (but attendance is open to all career stages) and will be held on Thursday 2nd November 2017 at the Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, London, UK.

Respondent: Prof Lorna Hardwick.

Expressions of Interest welcome NOW. Continue reading

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Amanda Potter: Wonder Woman – An “Awesome” Ancient Hero for the Modern World

It was with much excitement and a little nervousness that I went to the cinema on 3 June to watch the new Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins and featuring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I had been waiting for a long time for this movie. Seventy-five years after her first appearance in 1941 in All Star Comics, and after  , Wonder Woman finally had her own feature film, which re-tells her origin story.  In the film, Princess Diana volunteers to leave the island where she grew up in order to help the allies fight evil in the First World War – rather than the Second World War,  as in the original comic and 1970’s TV series. I had high expectations, after Gadot’s brief but shining appearance as Wonder Woman in the otherwise lacklustre Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which I discussed in The Conversation. And I came away happy: the consensus from friends and colleagues was that this Wonder Woman was “awesome”, with only a few reservations. (The critics have tended to agree, with the film four stars.).  My response to the film is that of a classicist and a feminist, and where Wonder Woman is concerned it is important to consider both these angles. Not only is she an Amazon with origins in Greek mythology, she is also a much-contested feminist icon.

Continue reading

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