Faith and Credibility in (Auto)Biographies from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages (200-900)

Interdisciplinary Workshop

October 4-6th, 2018


Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Prof. Dr. Koen de Temmermann (University of Gent)


In the February 21, 1851 entry of the diary he kept during his first visit to the United States, Heinrich Schliemann, famous for discovering Troy, proudly notes that he paid a visit to President Millard Fillmore. He also records that he attended a grand, official reception in the White House on the same day. However, unfortunately for him, 20th century scholars have revealed that he had not met the president at all, nor had there been any reception that day. Schliemann invented these events, just as he claimed to have become a US citizen in 1850.

Whereas modern historians and biographers might frown at Schliemann’s fictions, ancient readers might have been less offended. For the ancients, biography and historiography had a different relationship to truth (cf. Pol. 10.21, Plut. Alex. 1): while historians claim to present facts and to be obliged to truth, biography aims at showing the character of a notable individual and giving examples which are worth emulating or that serve as a warning. Therefore, ancient biographers are allowed to (or even have to) idealize, hide or alter facts, and invent events which could have happened. In addition, modern studies have relativized biographical truth (cf. Wagner 2006; Sonnabend 2002) and highlight the narrative and fictional nature of (auto)biographical texts (cf. Wagner-Egelhaaf 2013; Nadel 1984).

As Christian literature and hagiography began to flourish, fundamental conflicts arose. When biographical writing became a normative means of defending and consolidating one’s own religion and attacking the other‘s, the credibility and authenticity of the literary genre had to face new challenges (cf. e.g. Cox Miller 2000).

This workshop aims to explore credibility and authenticity in biographical, autobiographical, and hagiographical literature in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (c. 200–900). It has a decidedly interdisciplinary character. We welcome historians of these periods as well as scholars of other disciplines (philologists, theologians, etc.) working on the following topics and related questions:


  • Where and how do (auto)biographies claim truth? Which explicit statements can be found, which ‘topical’ elements are used, which authorities relied on?
  • Besides explicit claims, which implicit strategies and devices can be identified?
  • How are narrative strategies used as a means of creating credibility?
  • How do Christian (auto)biographers deal with their ‘pagan’ heritage? From a diachronic point of view, which lines of tradition, changes, and transformations can be recognized?
  • Which role do claims of (auto)biographical credibility play in religious debates? To what extent are non-Christian discourses on credibility of (auto)biographies related to new challenges by Christianity?

To submit a proposal, please send an English abstract of your paper to by March 11, 2018.


(Text by the organizers)

Comparer les noms divins dans l’antiquité

Mardi 13 mars 2018, Unithèque, salle 511, Université de Lausanne



8:45–9:00  Anna ANGELINI, Giuseppina LENZO, Christophe NIHAN, Matthieu PELLET – (Université de Lausanne)
Accueil et introduction

9:00–10:20  Vinciane PIRENNE – (Collège de France, Université de Liège)
Deux divinités en une ? Comprendre le nom d’un dieu en position d’épiclèse


10:40–12:00  Corinne BONNET – (Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès)
Le bilinguisme des épithètes dans les inscriptions phéniciennes et grecques de Chypre


13:30–14:50  Françoise LABRIQUE – (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Université de Cologne)
Extension des fonctions des dieux égyptiens : Modes d’expressions à travers quelques exemples d’époque tardive


15:20–16:40  Lionel MARTI – (Collège de France, UMR 7192)
Théonymie d’une réussite : l’itinéraire d’Aššur dans le Proche-Orient ancien

17:00–18:00  Corinne BONNET et Maria BIANCO – (Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès)
Présentation du projet ERC de l’Université de Toulouse : Mapping Ancient Polytheisms

(Text by the organizers)



Appel à communications : Les connaissances négatives


L’Université d’Aix-Marseille, le Centre Gilles Gaston Granger (UMR 7304) et l’Equipe sur les Cultures et Humanités Anciennes et Nouvelles Germaniques et Slaves (ECHANGES EA 4236) organisent un colloque international sur les Connaissances négatives du 21 au 23 novembre 2018 à Aix-en-Provence (Faculté des Lettres et Sciences humaines).

 Les projets de communication, de 500 mots maximum, peuvent être rédigés en français, anglais ou allemand, qui seront les trois langues du colloque. Ils devront être adressés, accompagnés d’une courte bio-bibliographie, au plus tard le 31 mai 2018, à :

L’acceptation de la proposition sera communiquée par le comité scientifique au plus tard le 30 juin 2018.


Le texte de l’AAC est disponible ici:


Keynote speakers

Emil Angehrn (Université de Bâle)

Jean-Marc Narbonne (Université Laval, Québec)

Philipp Thomas (Universität Tübingen)


(Text by the organizers)


 Polemics, Rivalry and Networking in Greco-Roman Antiquity


Leuven, 12-14 December 2018


 (submission deadline 28 February, 2018)


Disagreement and scholarly dispute are essential to any intellectual development. This holds true for ancient cultures no less than for us today. Greek philosophy has been agonistic from long before the formal constitution of philosophical ‘schools’ in the Hellenistic age. In the classical period, Athens famously served as an intellectual battlefield between Socrates and the sophists, in which a full armory of eristic and elenctic strategies was developed. This confrontation was to become a paradigm for the opposition between rhetorical and philosophical models of education, from Plato and Isocrates to the Second Sophistic and beyond.


The Hellenistic age saw the rise of schools and other, often more informal types of network which committed its members to a core set of doctrines – not only in philosophy (Stoicism, Epicureanism, Skepticism), but also in medicine (dogmatists vs. empiricists), science (mathematical astronomy vs. more philosophical cosmologies), historiography (pragmatic vs. rhetorical and tragic approaches; pro-Roman vs. pro-Carthaginian accounts), grammar (allegoricists vs. literalists), rhetoric (asianism vs. atticism), poetry (epos vs. shorter types of poetry), and theology (traditionalist vs. more liberal approaches). An essential ingredient of this phenomenon is the development of stereotypic depictions of rival schools and fixed patterns of refutations. Many of these depictions and tropes survived the actual debates from which they emerged and the schools against which they were directed, as is apparent from the Platonic and Christian texts from late Antiquity.

In the Hellenistic period, we also witness the emergence of new intellectual centers, like Alexandria, and of increasingly text-based scholarly communities and networks. From the early imperial age onwards, authoritative texts became increasingly important vehicles of wisdom, and written commentaries gradually acquired a central place in philosophical, rhetorical and religious education. Both Christians and pagans adopted polemical strategies in distinguishing between orthodox and heterodox interpretations of their founding texts, thus leading to controversy between authors who often had much more in common than they were ready to admit. In this context, polemical strategies not only served to refute one’s opponents, but also contributed to establishing intra-school identity and intellectual alliances.

The aim of this conference is to study the role that polemical strategies and intellectual controversy have played in the establishment of ancient learned networks, such as philosophical and scientific schools, scholarly and religious communities, literary circles, etc., as well as in the dynamics of intellectual alliances, traditions, and ‘personal’ networks.

(Text by the organizers)

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Philip van der Eijk (Berlin)
  • Peter Gemeinhardt (Göttingen)
  • Pantelis Golitsis (Thessaloniki)
  • Irmgard Männlein-Robert (Tübingen)
  • John Marincola (Florida State University)


Please submit your proposal via email ( by February 28, 2018.

Visit our website (

For all practical details, see the full call for papers.

If you have any questions, please contact or

Origen and the Origenian tradition on progress

Call for Papers

Rome La Sapienza, May, 14-16

Research project: La Wirkungsgeschichte di gnosi e origenismo in età moderna, Sapienza Università di Roma, resp. Gaetano Lettieri

Joint Conference between the “Dipartimento di Storia, Culture, Religioni” of Sapienza University of Rome and the ITN Project Marie Skłodowska-Curie “The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization”.

Deadline for proposals: 8 March 2018.

Προκοπή, profectus: in this category it is possible to encompass all the dynamic movement of the theology of Origen of Alexandria. This movement is the natural modality of man, in progress until the apokatastatic restoration of the protological dimension of the pure intelligence to God. Progress implies freedom and the multiple possibilities to convert to the good: the creature has multiple secular cycles to reach his goal, thanks to the universal goodness of the Father. The soul progresses from aeon to aeon due to the progressive divine revelation, which proposes three ascending grades to the limited freedom of man: the Law, the prophets and the Gospels. The progress of the revelation matches the hermeneutical progress, the duty of the believer, who has to progress from the letter to the Spirit. This corresponds to prayer: the true adoration is ad profectum Spiritus, a mystical outburst towards a God who is light and fire, a Beloved who reveals himself and eludes the grasp of the lover. Progress is hence in Origen the fundamental posture of man and of Biblical exegete. Even deeper, progress is the key to understanding the Origenian Trinity: the Son is the eternal movement of desire towards the Father.

This conference aims to develop and question this interpretative hypothesis, operating on two levels. A first session will be dedicated to the theme of progress in Origen, in its various nuances and in its relationship with the reflections of his time, with particular attention to the Gnostics. This synchronic analysis will be followed by a wide diachronic portrait, which will follow Origen’s Nachleben, his path throughout history. The conference aims to underline the productive power of cultural traditions which had found their stimulus and object in the Origenian speculative inheritance; our hypothesis is that this happened primarily in the sense of a continuous relativisation of dogma and in an endless moral and mystical acceleration. The specific object of analysis will be the continuation of the effort to combine Christian faith and Platonic metaphysics, which had had its highest elaboration in the Gnostic Alexandrian schools and in the proto-Catholic schools of Clement and Origen. Therefore, we will follow the powerful catholic recasting made by the Cappadocians in the East and the fortunes and misfortunes of Origen in the West, where he was to be the teacher of mystics and exegesis (just consider Bernard of Clairvaux) but who was also feared as a heretic. The Platonic combination of the Origenism works in history of modern Western thought as a positive metaphysical meta-dogmatic and optimistic option, against the pessimistic and fideistic lines of Augustinism, as the debate between Erasmus and Luther on the freedom of the will testifies. From Cusano to the Florentine Neoplatonism, from Bruno to the Socinians, from the Cambridge Platonists to Leibnitz, we endeavor to follow the Origenian inheritance until the present age, in its secularization from the theological to the philosophical.

(Text by the organizers)

All paper proposals should include the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the presenter; please submit title and abstract of 250 words maximum. The languages of the conference will be Italian and English. Proposals to be submitted to by 8 March 2018.

Séminaire d’initiation à la philosophique antique
Platonisme et Néoplatonisme


1er semestre – Le Parménide de Platon

organisé par Luc Brisson, Pierre Caye et Philippe Hoffmann

École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm – 75005 Paris

Les séances auront lieu les lundis de 15h à 17h

Salle Pasteur – Pavillon Pasteur


15 janvier 2018 : Carlos Steel, Les interprétations du Parménide de Platon avant Proclus
22 janvier 2018 : Alexandra Michalewski, Formes et qualités dans le Didaskalikos
29 janvier 2018 : Fabienne Jourdan, Numénius et le Parménide de Platon
5 février 2018 : Frédéric Fauquier, Proclus, commentateur du Parménide de Platon
12 février 2018 : Philippe Hoffmann, Damascius, commentateur du Parménide de Platon

CFP: Foreign Influences: Philosophy and the Circulation of Knowledge in Antiquity / Influences étrangères : la philosophie et la circulation des connaissances dans l’Antiquité


*Foreign Influences: Philosophy and the Circulation of Knowledge in Antiquity*

Interuniversity Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy Montreal (Université du Québec à Montréal), October 24-26, 2018


How did Greek and Roman philosophers react to “foreign influences,” or “foreigners” (*xenoi*)? Did Greek and Roman philosophy and literature promote a stereotypical notion of the other, or do we always find different approaches to foreignness? Are stereotypes and prejudices the most common features of ancient representations of foreigners? When philosophers strive to expand the body of knowledge of their time, are they open or closed to the input that may come from other populations?

The Greek concept of the “foreigner” (*xenos*) is rather wide-ranging, as is clear from Socrates’ plea to his judges at the beginning of Plato’s *Apology*, that they tolerate his simple language as they would tolerate a foreigner from Ionia speaking the dialect of that region.

Before Socrates’ philosophical activity, the Presocratics, both physiologists and sophists, were all “guests” or foreigners (*xenoi*) in Athens—not citizens. Moreover, before the arrival of philosophers to mainland Greece, Greeks from Attica or the Peloponnese would go abroad to learn and acquire knowledge. According to Herodotus, Solon, one of the Seven Sages, traveled for ten years to Egypt and to the court of Cresus.

Solon went abroad to “philosophize”, i.e. to collect the wisdom of the learned foreigners.

This conference aims at surveying the different representations of foreigners provided by Greek and Roman philosophers. The goal is to establish whether these representations had an impact on the development of ancient philosophy. Selected papers will focus on the foreigners’

contributions to ancient philosophy and will explain how was possible that philosophy, from its origin through its development, was always intertwined with cultural exchanges around the Mediterranean, despite the different languages, the geographical and historical distances and the barrier of citizenship.

The conference will focus on archaic, classical, Hellenistic, and Roman antiquity. We welcome papers on the notion of “xenos” from different perspectives (anthropological, literary, historical and philosophical).

(Text by the organizers)


Please send an abstract of 300-450 words and a short CV to : gili.luca [at]

Deadline for submission: December 20, 2018. Decisions will be made by January 10, 2018. The conference proceedings will be published.

The organizers:

Benoît Castelnerac (Université de Sherbrooke)

Luca Gili (Université du Québec à Montréal)

Laetitia Monteils-Laeng (Université de Montréal)


Versione française


Influences étrangères : la philosophie et la circulation des connaissances dans l’Antiquité
Colloque inter-universitaire de philosophie ancienne
Montréal (Université du Québec à Montréal), 24-26 octobre 2018
Quelle perception se font les Grecs et les Romains de ces « influences étrangères »? Est-ce toujours une vision globale et stéréotypée qui nous en est renvoyée ou y a-t-il un traitement toujours inégal des étrangers? Dans la représentation que les Anciens se font de l’étranger, les stéréotypes, les préjugés prévalent-ils systématiquement sur la réalité de ce que l’on peut apprendre d’un étranger (invité ou non)? À l’égard de ces peuplades plus ou moins bien – ou mal – connues, favorise-t-on une attitude de repli ou au contraire d’ouverture quand les philosophes s’intéressent à l’avancement de la connaissance à leur époque?
La notion d’étranger (xenos) est singulièrement large en Grec classique, en témoigne la précaution que Platon prête à Socrate au début l’Apologie : que ses juges tolèrent son parler sans ornements, comme ils le feraient avec un étranger venu d’Ionie qui en aurait le dialecte.
Avant le succès de Socrate en philosophie, les « présocratiques » (savants ou sophistes) étaient tous des « invités » à Athènes. En outre, avant que les savants ne se rendent en Grèce continentale, les Grecs d’Attique ou du Péloponnèse se rendaient « à l’étranger » pour accumuler les savoirs. Selon Hérodote, Solon, l’un des sept sages, aurait entrepris un voyage de dix ans passant par l’Égypte et la cour de Crésus.
Ce colloque a pour objectif de présenter différents aspects de la représentation que les philosophes grecs et romains se faisaient des étrangers, afin d’en évaluer la présence et la contribution dans l’avènement et le développement des savoirs. Il portera sur les différentes périodes de l’Antiquité (archaïque, classique, hellénistique et romaine) et aura une orientation interdisciplinaire (anthropologique, littéraire, historique et philosophique).
Conférenciers invités :
Renaud Gagné (Cambridge)
Marie-Françoise Baslez (Paris IV)
Anna Schriefl (Bonn)
Mauro Bonazzi (Milan)
Une proposition de 300-450 mots et un CV doit être envoyé à Luca Gili (gili.luca [arobase] pour le 20 décembre 2017. Les propositions seront sélectionnées pour le 10 janvier 2018. Les actes du colloque seront publiés.
Les organisateurs:

Benoît Castelnerac (Université de Sherbrooke)

Luca Gili (Université du Québec à Montréal)

Laetitia Monteils-Laeng (Université de Montréal)    

CFP: Allegory, Poetics, and Symbol in Neoplatonic Texts


What is the origin and purport of the idea of the symbol in Neoplatonic poetic theory? What role does allegory play in strategies of Neoplatonic exegesis, either of Plato’s texts or of other canonical or scriptural texts? How do Neoplatonists deploy theories of allegory, analogy, and symbolism to approach traditional texts? 


From Plato’s dialogues, to Middle Platonist treatments of those dialogues (e.g., Apuleius’ Golden Ass; Origen’s exegesis of the Phaedrus in the Contra Celsum) to the full-blown Neoplatonic theories of allegory we find in Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic, to later Renaissance uses of symbols and emblems (e.g. Bruno’s imprese in On the Heroic Frenzies), symbolism is a key component of Platonic discourse. What roles do the language of symbol, theories of symbolism, and or other aesthetic approaches to textuality play in the Platonic traditions? How do Neoplatonists apply the category of symbol to registers that are other than literary (as in for example in theurgy)? 


Since Sheppard’s 1976 Oxford dissertation, Studies on the 5th and 6th essays of Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic, scholarly interest in Neoplatonic allegory and poetics has increased. Not only is the first volume of the new Cambridge translation of Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic (Edited and translated by Baltzly, Finamore and Miles) about to appear, but now classics volumes such as Lamberton’s Homer the Theologian (Brill 1989) Dawson’s, Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria (California 1991) and Struck’s Birth of the Symbol (Princeton 2004)have sponsored an increasingly important field that spans ancient philosophy, poetics, biblical studies, Patristics, and ancient religion. 


In this CFP we invite scholars interested in the history, theory, philosophy, and trajectory of symbolism and poetics as they appear in Platonizing texts to submit abstracts of 500–800 words, for papers requiring 15-20 minutes of presentation, electronically to Sara Ahbel-Rappe. The member’s name should appear only on the cover letter, not on the abstract. All abstracts must be received no later than February 24, 2018. Abstracts will be judged anonymously. The panel organizer will subsequently contact those who have written abstracts with the reviewers’ comments and recommendation.

(Text by the organizers)

LGBT+ Classics: Teaching, Research, and Activism
12th February 2018
University of Reading


Organised by: Katherine Harloe, Talitha Kearey, and Irene Salvo


The Women’s Classical Committee UK is organising a one-day workshop on Classics and Queer studies to highlight current projects and activities that embrace the intersections of research, teaching, public engagement, and activism.

The day will feature a series of talks and a roundtable bringing together academics in Classics (and related fields), LGBT+ activists, museum curators and those working in other areas of outreach and public engagement. We intend to explore how LGBT+ themes are included in Classics curricula; how public engagement with queer Classics and history of sexualities can contribute to fight homophobia and transphobia; and the ways in which the boundaries between research, teaching, and activism can be crossed. The roundtable will focus in particular on strategies of support for LGBT+ students and staff, current policies in Higher Education, and what still needs to be improved. Confirmed speakers include: Beth Asbury, Clara Barker, Alan Greaves, Jennifer Grove, Rebecca Langlands, Sebastian Matzner, Cheryl Morgan, and Maria Moscati. Jennifer Ingleheart (Durham University) will deliver the keynote address ‘Queer Classics: sexuality, scholarship, and the personal’.

We are also reserving time during the day’s schedule for a series of short (five-minute) spotlight talks by delegates. Through this session, we hope to provide a chance for delegates to share research projects, teaching programmes, and experiences related to LGBT+ issues. We are particularly interested in spotlight talks on:

– new queer and gender-informed work in classics, ancient history, archaeology, papyrology, philosophy, or classical reception;

– fresh ideas on teaching the history of queerness through texts and material culture;

– the difficulties and discriminatory experiences encountered by members of staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and early-career researchers, because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

(Text by the organizers)

If you would like more information or to volunteer to give one of these talks, please e-mail Irene Salvo, LBGT+ liaison officer, The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 5th December 2017.

People of any gender expression or identity who support the WCC’s aims are welcome to attend this event. For further details, see our website at

Attendance is free for WCC UK members, £10 for non-members (to cover catering costs). You can join the WCC UK here (and if you’re a student, underemployed, or unemployed, membership is only £5). As with all WCC events, travel bursaries will be available for students and the un/under-employed.

The WCC is committed to providing friendly and accessible environments for its events, so please do get in touch if you have any access, dietary, or childcare inquiries. For a full statement of the WCC’s childcare policy please see here   

Citizens of Heaven. Jesus and the New Political Identity in Nonnus Paraphrase