Saturday, August 21, 2010

Greek Memories: Theory and Practice

Greek Memories: Theory and Practice

Department of Classics & Ancient History, Durham University

Ritson Room, 27-28 September 2010

Memory, and its correlate, forgetting, are at the centre of a recent
surge of studies focused on the construction of collective
identities. In the wake of Halbwachs, and more recently Assman, much
work has been devoted to the relationship between cultural memory,
intentional history (the invention of tradition), and identity, in
ancient Greece and elsewhere. While these elements are bound to
interact in any society, the specific ways in which they are
conceptualized and function may differ significantly. We propose to
reorient the discussion by focusing on how the theories and the
practices of memory, recollection, and forgetting play themselves out
in specific texts and authors from ancient Greece, within a wide
chronological span (from the Homeric poems to Plotinus), and across
the entire range of literary 'genres' (epic and lyric poetry,
tragedy, comedy, historiography, philosophy and scientific prose
treatises). In particular, we plan to explore two interrelated
aspects: (i) explicit discursive reflections on memory, recollecting,
and forgetting as divine and human experiences and (ii) the role of
these reflections in shaping practices of thought, communication, and

Monday 27 September

9.30 – Welcome, registration and coffee

10.00-10.15 – Introduction to the conference

10.15-11.00 – Anita Nikkanen (Harvard), ‘Mnemosyne khariessa’

11.00-11.45 – Sarah Harden (University College, Oxford),
‘Self-Reflexive Memory in Pindar and Theognis’

11.45-12.30 – Peter Agocs (Christ’s College, Cambridge): ‘Speaking in
the Wax Tablets of Memory’

12.30-14.30 – Lunch and break

14.30-15.15 – Andrea Capra (Milano): ‘Lyric Oblivion: When Sappho
Taught Socrates how to Forget’

15.15–16.00 – Silvia Milanezi (Nantes): ‘Comic memories’

16.00-16.30 – Tea

16.30-17.15 – Catherine Darbo-Peschanski (CNRS, Lille 3): ‘Place and
Nature of Memory in Greek Historiography’

17.15-18.00 – Neil Sewell-Rutter: ‘Remembering and Forgetting
Cambyses: Memory in the Constitution Debate, Herodotus 3.80-82’

19.45 – Conference dinner

Tuesday 28 September

9.15-10.00 – Anca-Cristina Dan (Institute for Neohellenic Research,
Athens / Paris IV): ‘The Memory of Wonderful Sites: Some Remarks upon
Herodotean Theoretical Principles in Proemia of Extant “Geographical”

10.00-10.45 – Steven D. Smith (Hofstra University, New York):
‘Claudius Aelianus: Memory, Mnemonics, and Literature in the Age of

10.45-11.15 – Coffee

11.15-12.00 – Ynon Wygoda (Hebrew University of Jerusalem):
‘Socrates’ Forgetfulness and Platonic Irony’

12.00-12.45 – Jean-Louis Labarriere (CRNS, Paris IV): ‘PhantasmaM and
PhantasmaF in Aristotle’s De Memoria, 1, 450 b 20-451a8’

12.45-15.00 – Lunch and break (and guided tour of cathedral?)

15.00-15.45 – Emidio Spinelli (Roma, La Sapienza): ‘Physics, Memory,
Ethics: the Epicurean Road to Happiness’

15.45-16.30 – Stephen Clark (Liverpool): ‘Plotinus: Remembering and

16.30-16.45 – Tea

16.45-17.30 – Maria Michela Sassi (Pisa): ‘Greek Philosophers on How
to Memorise – and Learn’

17.30-18.00 – Final discussion

More information (bookings, location, programme) can be found at
Or e-mail the organisers,,

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