School of Humanities

Conference papers

Refereed papers from the 31st conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies.

Refereed papers

A philosophical Gigantomachy in the Metamorphoses

Author

M. Beasley

Abstract

In the Sophist, Plato describes the disagreement between idealists and materialists as a Gigantomachy, turning Gigantomachy into a philosophical battle. This philosophical interpretation is picked up by Lucretius, who famouslyreverses the moral values of Gigantomachy in describing Epicurus'assault on Religio. This paper reinterprets Ovid's references to the Gigantomachy in the Metamorphoses in the light of the philosophical form of Gigantomachy initiated by Plato and revised by Lucretius, focusing on the episodes of Lycaon in Book I and the Musomachia in Book V.

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Hannibal, elephants and turrets

Author

F. Billot

Abstract

This paper responds to some issues raised in Philip Rance's recent publication, 'Hannibal, elephants and turrets in Suda  THETA 438 [Polybius Fr. 162B] - an unidentified fragment of Diodorus', Classical Quarterly, 59.1.91-111 (2009). Rance's remark on page 92 that, '... excepting some demonstrably fictive allusions in later Latin poetry, this fragment contains the only explicit and unequivocal statement that Hannibal's elephants were furnished with turrets.' Assuming that Rance's unspecified 'later Latin poetry' includes Silius Italicus' Punica, this paper argues that the acceptance of the fragment belonging to a historical text requires an acceptance of the description of elephants with turrets in the Punica.

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Philosophy in the late Latin West

Author

D. Blyth

Abstract

In the late antique Latin west and thereafter a new conception of philosophy emerged, as primarily related to the meanings of texts. My aim here is to infer when and how this conception arose, eventually to replace the older sense of philosophy as a way of life. Elsewhere I have discussed the influence of Cicero's philosophical texts, but in this paper I will focus on three further important contemporary elements in the transformation: the disappearance of competence in Greek language in the Latin west; the cultural form in which Greek philosophical developments were accepted into the Latin tradition; and the influence of Christianity.

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The role of Zeus Meilichios in Argos

Author

D. Burton

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between Hades and Zeus, and in particular those areas in which the functions of the two overlap. Although, in Greek religion, Hades is notoriously without cult, certain aspects, epithets and iconography of Zeus identify him very closely with the underworld and the dead, as well as with hero-cult. I will discuss these interactions with particular reference to the cult of Zeus Meilichios at Athens and Argos. 

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Creation from Gaza

Author

M.W. Champion

Abstract

Three late fifth-century thinkers from Gaza defended Christian ideas about creation against arguments for the eternity of the world in contemporary Neoplatonism. This paper explores connections between Aeneas, Zacharias and Procopius and Neoplatonists including Proclus, Hierocles and Ammonius. It identifies relationships between the Gazan contributions and later sixth-century controversies, particularly Philoponus' arguments, and suggests some implications for understanding education in Gaza.

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Prometheus Bound in Christchurch 2009

Author

J. Davidson

Abstract

This paper discusses the production of Prometheus Bound staged in Christchurch in December 2009 (directed by Robin Bond). It considers the translation used and the set, masking, costumes, music and sound effects, and their effectiveness in the context of the performance space used. It also assesses the way in which the various characters were conceived and realised in action, and the choreography utilised for the chorus. Some illustrations from both rehearsals and actual performances will be shown. Consideration will also be given to the problems of staging a problematic play like Prometheus Bound for a contemporary audience, the range of possible options that might have been chosen, and possible reasons behind the directorial choices made for this production.

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Spatial context of Odyssey 5.452 to 6.317

Author

S. Ford

Abstract

The presentation of small-scale space contributes to the coherence and therefore intelligibility of a narrative. When shipwrecked near the end of Odyssey Book 5, Odysseus swims along a rocky coast before deciding to come ashore at the mouth of a river where he subsequently meets Nausicaa by some washing pools, located (we presume) at the same river. This description of small-scale space is, ex hypothesi, coherent. I examine the statements which anchor the characters to this space, ask whether they do in fact describe a single space, and suggest the consequences for the text of a spatial 'micro-context' reading.

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Emotional preaching: ekphrasis in the Kontakia of Romanos

Author

S. Gador-Whyte

Abstract

Ekphrasis is described by writers of Progymnasmata as a speech which 'brings before the eyes the thing described'. From Aristotle onwards, the point of a descriptive or ekphrastic speech was to elicit a certain emotional response in the listener. But how does eliciting an emotional response in listeners help a preacher? This paper will investigate Romanos' use of ekphrasis  in his kontakia or 'verse-sermons'. What sort of emotional response do these ekphraseis create and why is this useful for the preacher?

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Character inheritance in Suetonius' Caligula and Nero

Author

P. Garrett

Abstract

At Nero 1.2 Suetonius declares his interest in the inheritance of character from ancestors. He would have it appear that vices, where present in the parent, are inherited faithfully from parents and ancestors, but virtue, where present in the parent, degenerates and is not passed on to the son. Two Caesars demonstrate this principle: Caligula, an example of the father's considerable virtue degenerated in the son, and Nero, as the product of a long line of vicious ancestors, nastier than any of them. I contend that Suetonius' interest in character inheritance explains the level of research on the subjects' ancestors.

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The 'Etruscan League' reconsidered

Author

M. Gillett

Abstract

According to ancient historians, the duodecim populi of Etruria formed a federal league for political, military and religious purposes. This paper will review how the 'Etruscan league' has been constructed in ancient sources and how it is perceived in our contemporary scholarship. It will explore the possibility of a pan-Etruscan league and will propose that temporary coalitions and localised alliances were formed between some Etruscan cities. This reconsideration of the evidence will question the league's existence and the political formation of pre-Roman Italic peoples, suggesting that we have perhaps relied too heavily on Graeco-Roman accounts and have disregarded the Etruscan evidence (or lack thereof).

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The chasm at Delphi: a modern perspective

Author

K.M. Heineman

Abstract

The proposed 'chasm-theory' of Delphi - that the priestess, or Pythia, was intoxicated by fumes emitted from the earth - has been debated by scholars of Ancient Greece since the tradition first appeared in the extant sources. There is new evidence and the theory needs to be re-examined through this updated lens. My presentation is a brief introduction to the debate. I will present a brief overview of Delphi, and then focus on the issue of the chasm, tracing the evidence of the ancient sources. Next, the modern sources will be addressed and their evidence examined. Finally, I will examine the recent geological studies done at Delphi and summarise their findings.

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Art of gold: precious metals and Chariton's Callirhoe

Author

D. James

Abstract

In Callirhoe by Chariton, the author has Dionysius erect a golden statue of Callirhoe on his estate. While it has been recognised that Chariton describes Callirhoe in terms evocative of sculpture throughout his work (e.g. Hunter, R. 'History and historicity in the romance of Chariton' ANRW 34.2 (1993) 1055-86), the wider significance of the precious metal from which Dionysius' statue was constructed has often been overlooked. This paper seeks to examine the importance of gold, and indeed silver, in the context of the novel.

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The politics of fraud: a Seruilius Casca in Livy

Author

P. Jarvis

Abstract

The paper analyses an incident of fraud on the part of the publicani which took place during the Second Punic War in 215 BCE. The paper examines Livy's account of the aftermath of this incident, in which he records the methods the Senate employed to condemn the malefactors, and the efforts of the two accused to save themselves. The focus of the paper is twofold: the political influence that the publicani displayed throughout this incident, and Livy's misleading account of Gaius Seruilius, a tribune to whom Livy attributes the cognomen Casca. The paper aims to demonstrate the importance of the publicani at this time and to clear up a misconception concerning the identity and motivations of the tribune Gaius Seruilius.

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Fabius, Marcellus and Otacilius - the alliance that never was

Author

P. Johnson

Abstract

Since Poseidonius called them the Sword and Shield of Rome, Marcellus and Fabius, heroes of the Second Punic War, have always been paired together in the collective consciousness. It has been widely assumed by scholars of such eminence as Munzer, Scullard, Briscoe, Caven, and more recently, Flower, that Marcellus and Fabius were political allies, and that Marcellus and his half-brother Otacilius were members of a faction that acknowledged Fabius as its leader. Recent work by McDonnell has challenged this idea. This paper seeks to pick up where McDonnell left off by examining more closely the events surrounding the elections of 215 and 214 B.C.

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The Aqua Augusta and control of water resources in the Bay of Naples

Author

D. Keenan-Jones

Abstract

This paper considers a largely ignored aqueduct that was one of Augustus' largest construction projects. The Aqua Augusta transferred a significant amount of water from a mountain basin, with consequent environmental and social impacts, to at least eight towns around the heavily settled, and geologically unstable, Bay of Naples. The Augusta, rather than being focused on one urban centre, was a regional water supply network built to help secure the strategic area of Campania. In its creation and operation we see a complex interplay between municipal and imperial interests until the Augusta's demise in the fifth century AD.

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Galerius, Gamzigrad and the politics of abdication

Author

B. Leadbetter

Abstract

Lactantius, in his De mortibus persecutorum, makes the claim that Galerius intended to resign his power at the conclusion of his vicennalia and retire. This claim is regarded as confirmed by the discovery of a palace complex near modern Gamzigrad in north-eastern Serbia, and firmly identified as Romuliana. The implications of this conclusion have not been explored as thoroughly as they might. This paper looks firstly at the Gamzigrad site and assesses its particular significance to Galerius himself, and secondly explores the implications of Lactantius' claim, especially as it impinges upon the way in which historians have analysed and represented the complex imperial politics of this period.

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Homer and the Aiakid cousins: kinship celebrated or overlooked in the Iliad   

Author

J. Maitland

Abstract

I will take two episodes: the embassy in Iliad 9 and the aristeia of Telamonian Aias in Iliad 15-16 to show the poet's selectivity in deploying his material. With regard to Iliad 9, I shall make some suggestions as to the authorial process in handling the characters who appear. This vivid episode, in which the character of Achilleus is portrayed in a manner worthy of tragic composition, is not only a high point of the epic but appears to give Achilleus preference over his Aiakid cousins. As a consequence, the strain shows, not only in the famous use of the incongruous dual forms, but in the personal histories of Phoinix and Patroklos and in the presence of Phoinix himself, who does not appear in Pindar or Bacchylides. In the case of Aias' aristeia, it is highly incongruous that he and Achilleus are portrayed working so closely together without any reference to their common ancestry, a neglect all the more striking in view of the treatment of the episode in Bacchylides 13.96-167. Both these episodes serve to bring Achilleus to the fore and recast the Aiakid kinship structures in a way that suits the poet's purpose.

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'With friends like this, who needs enemies?' Pompeius' abandonment of his friends and supporters

Author

B. Marshall

Abstract

Pompeius' changes of sides to secure his advancement are well known, such as his choice of Sulla's side from 83 on, only to turn to supporting the consular candidature of M. Lepidus in 79 when the latter was campaigning on a platform of repealing the Sullan legislation, and turning again to secure a military command against Lepidus' rebellion. Equally inconsistent was Pompeius' relationship with his so-called amici; they were used when it suited him for the political advantage they might bring, but abandoned when he thought they might be a political drawback to his desire for acceptance as the pre-eminent leader in the state. This paper will examine some examples of Pompeius' supporters who deserved better from him.

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From Achilles to Anzac: Heroism in the Dardanelles from antiquity to the Great War 

Author

S. Midford

Abstract

The Australian representation of the Gallipoli Campaign in the Great War is laced with allusions to antiquity and the Classical world. The men in the trenches were aware that they were located across the Dardanelles from Troy and references to the landscape's past permeated their writings. Allusions to antiquity also pervaded art, literature and newspapers throughout the war and afterwards. This paper will look at the reasons why the epic and the heroic were used when representing the Anzac involvement at Gallipoli. It will also examine the construction of an Anzac myth at Gallipoli which forged a link between the Classical past and the Australian present and future. This will demonstrate that the Classics were used as an 'opiate' to dull the pain that the war caused the Australian nation. It will also examine the Anzac myth's construction as a convenient link to Western civilisation, placing Australians within a European continuum while simultaneously establishing them as an independent nation with their newly composed epic story.

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'I, Porphyry': narrator and reader in the Vita Plotini 

Author

G. Miles

Abstract

Porphyry's Vita Plotini has been described as 'the enfant terrible among ancient biographies', partly on account of its unusual structure. Written by Porphyry as an introduction to his edition of his master's works (the Enneads), it is in several respects a unique document: opening with the surreptitious creation of an image of its protagonist, it moves directly to his death, before recounting a series of observations and personal anecdotes and concluding with an oracle on Plotinus' posthumous fate. Incorporated into this account are personal recollections ('I, Porphyry...') as well as the words of others (Longinus, Eustochius, Apollo), and of Plotinus himself. Most scholarship on the Vita Plotini has centred on questions of history of one sort or another. This is not surprising, as it is indeed a unique and valuable historical source. Far less attention, however, has been given to it as a literary text. The proposed study aims to provide a narratological analysis of the Vita, and to compare it with other biographical works and with texts of other genres. De Jong has observed that 'there is no direct correlation between genre and type of narrator'. Nonetheless, an analysis of this sort, by shedding light on the formal characteristics of the text, and in particular its construction of narrator and audience, will contribute to the debate on the text's status as a factual or an idealising account, and the kinds of meaning which can legitimately be read into it.

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Use your illusion: 'Critias' on religion reconsidered 

Author

P. O'Sullivan

Abstract

The famous dramatic, possibly satyric, fragment (TrGF 43 F 19), usually ascribed to Critias (or Euripides), which posits the social origins of belief in the gods, has often been considered a shrewd and cynical denunciation of religion per se. A close examination of the fragment's enumerations of the benefits of religion suggests otherwise. While Dana Sutton (CQ 1981) rightly noted that the fragment presents religion as a 'benign swindle', we can go further and see in it an interesting paradox amounting to an atheistic defence of religion, which tallies with much contemporaneous ethical and sophistic speculation more than has been recognised.

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The Demosthenic basileus: a phantom in the Ath. Pol.? 

Author

K.J. O'Toole

Abstract

In the ancient sources contemporaneous with the Athenaion Politeia and its references to the Athenian basileus, there is only one extant narrative of any significant length concerning the Athenian basileus: the narrative in Demosthenes' Against Neaira. Ironically the authorship of both these sources is disputed but it is the contention this paper that of more importance is the fact that both sources are more notable for what they do not say about the basileus than for what they do and that the heavy reliance on these sources for assertions today about the basileus may be misplaced.

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Thucydides 1.99: tribute and revolts in the Athenian empire 

Author

D.J. Phillips

Abstract

Thucydides 1.99, with its implication of widespread revolts that were caused by the failure of allies to produce the right amount of tribute or ships, is not supported by the details of Thucydides' narrative nor by the evidence of Xenophon, Diodorus or the inscriptions. Further, passages such as 1.81, 1.122.1, and 8.2.2, which refer to the fostering of revolts as an anti-Athenian strategy, are not supported by Thucydides' own evidence until one reaches 412/11 and even then qualifications need to be made. 

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War, democracy and culture in classical Athens 

Author

D. Pritchard

Abstract

Athens is famous for its highly developed democracy and its veritable cultural revolution. Not widely known is its military revolution. More than any other city Athens invented new forms of combat and was responsible for raising the scale of Greek warfare to a different order of magnitude. The contemporaneity of these revolutions raises the possibility that democracy was one of the major causes of Athenian military success. Ancient writers may have thought as much but the traditional assumptions of Ancient History and Political Science have meant that the impact of democracy on war has received almost no scholarly attention. This paper summarises the finding of an international consortium which has investigated this important problem from multiple perspectives and considers what insights we can learn from ancient Athens for contemporary foreign policy.

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Jury pay and Aristophanes 

Author

R. Sing

Abstract

t is striking that, like his depiction of Cleon, Aristophanes' unfavourable treatments of jury pay appear in popular comedies performed for ordinary Athenians. Further, how is it that Aristophanes can seemingly ignore the convention of not criticising democratic institutions? Closer examination of the handling of jury pay and jurors in Old Comedy offers insights both into Aristophanes' persuasive use of humour and contemporary divergences of opinion on this controversial fixture of Athenian public life.

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The Theaetetus as a narrative dialogue? 

Author

H. Tarrant

Abstract

The prologue of the Theaetetus has caused some to suppose that an early version had been composed in narrative form. A different prologue was known in antiquity. Evidence will be shown that, after stylometric examination of its vocabulary-mix (content-specific words excluded), its language is indeed that of the narrative and not that of the dramatic dialogues. Clearly this means that the reader was entitled to expect that the material would be presented in narrative form. Was that ever the case?

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Tyche in Plutarch's Aemilius Paulus - Timoleon 

Author

W.J. Tatum

Abstract

The importance of tyche to any reading of Plutarch's Aemilius - Timoleon is emphasised in the work's preface. Nor have scholars been slow to take the hint. What has gone unobserved, however, is the extent to which Plutarch's deployment of tyche is conditioned by tyche's role in Polybius, the biographer's inevitable source for the Life of Aemilius. Polybian tyche in this pairing lends Timoleon's career the same historical importance as Aemilius' - a similarity explicitly denied in Polybius. Plutarch's correction, inspired by his view of Timoleon as a liberator of the Greeks, has implications for the meaning of his Parallel Lives.

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(Un)Elegiac characterisation in Propertius 3.12

Author

J. Wallis

Abstract

In his third book, Propertius seeks to stretch the thematic limit of elegiac poetry to the point of breakdown. In this paper I examine a pair of elegies from heart of Book 3 which introduce to elegy strikingly novel perspectives and modes, while offering at the same time opportunity for metapoetic reflection on the complexities of literary development itself. In 3.12 the peerless yet complex faithfulness of Aelia Galla offers a counterpoint to the fickleness of the poet's own mistress; and an epicedion for the dead Marcellus in 3.18 presents the most challenging instance of a new modality in Book 3, giving a glimpse of what it might look like - were an elegiac poet ever to write court poetry.

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Pietas, Pompeiani and Cicero's Thirteenth Philippic

Author

K. Welch

Abstract

Because of its direct quotation of Antonius' words, the thirteenth Philippic uniquely exposes the rhetoric of both Cicero and his protagonist. Antonius had called upon the Caesarians to desert their treacherous and dangerous alliance with the partes victae and had held himself up as an example of fides and pietas towards the dead Dictator. In response, Cicero directly attacks his impietas, contrasting it with two young men, Caesar, who understands that maxima pietas is pietas erga patriam, and Sextus Pompeius who is commended for many virtues but not pietas, although Pompeius had already claimed the virtue as his own. What is going on? An examination of the competing strategies of Cicero and Antonius exposes the nature of the Republican factions in early 43, their subsequent integration and the effect of the divisions on later historiography.

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