About our staff
Dr Simon Trépanier
Senior Lecturer; Classics
I grew up in Canada, in Quebec, just on the French side of the linguistic border between French and English Canada, and did my undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa. After graduate school at the University of Toronto, I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then Boston in the U.S.A., and in 2003 I came to the UK to do post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford. In 2005, I started at Edinburgh and since 2010 the family lives in Fife.
Member of the International Society of Presocratic studies (local organiser of 2nd meeting, Edinburgh 2010)
Summary of research interestsThemes:
- Language & Literature
- Medicine, Science & Technology
My main research interest is ancient philosophy, which I approach from within Classics. My specialties include early Greek philosophy (also known as the Presocratics), literary papyrology and more recently Epicureanism and Lucretius. I am especially interested in the emergence of philosophy and its relation to literature as well as wider society, and in the place of the gods within philosophical ancient religion.
Current research activities
‘Empedocles, On Nature I. 273-87. Place, the Elements and Still No ‘We’. Mnemosyne 71, 2018 (in press). ‘Empedocles on the Origin of Plants: P. Strasb. gr. Inv. 1665-1666, sections d, b and f’ in C. Vassalo, ed.’ in 'Presocratics and Papyrological Tradition' (Studia Praesocratica, De Gruyter) forthcoming 2018 ‘From Hades to the Stars: Empedocles on the Cosmic Habitats of Soul’ Classical Antiquity 36.1 forthcoming April 2017. Empedocles article, in Oxford Bibliographies Online ‘From Wandering Limbs to Limbless Gods: δαίμων as Substance in Empedocles’ Apeiron 47 (2014) 172-210.
The new Empedocles
So far my main efforts have been devoted to the philosopher-poet Empedocles. Thanks to a new papyrus find, which appeared in 1999, not only do we have more text to work with, but much of what we thought we knew about him needs to be reconsidered. My book (2004) argued that the new evidence reinforced the case for there being only one poem, against the more standard division of his poetic output between two poems. My more recent articles are either contributions to the text or try to show how the religious side of his thought (reincarnation and the nature of the gods) can be squared with his materialist physics. For an introduction to the topic, see my Oxford bibliography online article (link once live).
My next project will be a book on the Latin poet Lucretius. More precisely, the project is to investigate how the new Empedocles affects our understanding of Lucretius. While the Greek philosopher Epicurus is Lucretius’ doctrinal master, Empedocles is the Greek master of his poetic genre, philosophical didactic epic. But the new Empedocles shows that Empedocles does more than provide a literary frame for Lucretius’ work. On the one hand, the new Empedocles is much closer to Epicurus than we previously suspected: both are mortal gods teaching a reformed theology based on physics, including how to become a god. On the other, Lucretius’ use of Empedocles resonates against a highly contested Hellenistic reception of Empedocles, with the Stoics appropriating many of his ideas and the Epicureans rejecting the appropriation. The study will also consider many more specific Lucretian poetic debts to Empedocles, including his adaptation of Empedoclean cosmic-religious imagery to Epicurean ends.
Early Greek philosophy and Theology
Another project I am working on is a wider treatment of the gods in Greek philosophy. For reasons that have to do with the ancient transmission of our evidence, I think that we have tended to underestimate the theological or religious content of early Greek philosophy. Questions I would like to consider at greater length include 1) how the contrast between a secular versus religious outlook evolves within ancient philosophy 2) how far the gods of the philosophers depart from popular views and literary representations of them 3) the relation between the nature of the gods and philosophical speculation on the place of mind in the universe. For a survey, see my 2010 article in the list of publications.
- Greek 1C/2A/1D/2B (intermediate level, incl. Euripides, Xenophon, Thucydides)
- Early Greek Philosophy (Greek GREE10014; in Translation CLTR10015)
- Socrates and Plato: (Greek U03602; in Translation U03603)
- Greek Comedy (GREE10011)
- Classical Literature 2A: Ancient Epic (CLTR08008)
- Homer, Iliad (GREE10002)
- Lucretius De Rerum Natura (LATI10022)
- Tragedy (in Translation; CLTR10003)
- Greek Language A and B (advanced language instruction, incl. unseens)
- Epicurus and Epicureanism (P01651)
- Greek Philosophy (Plato's Republic) (PGHC11022)
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Link|
|PhD||In the footsteps of Arnold Geulinex: Johannes Swartenhengst and the Controversy over Cartesianism||Secondary|
|De Zubiria, Manuel||PhD||'Usage of tropes + pseudo scientific language in early Greek philosophy'||Primary|
|Evangelou, Gabriel||PhD||Philia in Cicero's correspondence||Secondary|
|Van Hove, Rebecca||MScR||Athenian perceptions of Persia and Macedon in the second half of the fourth century BC.||Secondary|
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Completion year||Link|
|Valachova, Cas||PhD||The Political and philosophical strategies of Roman Epicureans in the Late Republic||Secondary||2018||link|
|Johnston, Alexandre||PhD||Sophocles, Pindar and Archaic Thought||Secondary||2015||link|
|Orton, Jane||PhD||Plato On Dianoetic Reasoning||Primary||2013|
Trepanier, S. (2004) Empedocle: Les Pommes de la discorde. Phoenix - The Journal of the Classical Association of Canada, 58, pp. 130-142
Trepanier, S. (2003) 'We and Empedocles' Cosmic Lottery: P. Strasb. Gr. INV.1665-1666 ensemble a. Mnemosyne, 56, pp. 385-419DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/156852503769173039
Trepanier, S. (2010) Early Greek theology: God as Nature and Natural Gods. In: Erskine, A. and Bremner, J. (eds.) The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 273-317
Trepanier, S. (2007) 'The Didactic Plot of Lucretius, De Rerum Natura and its Empedoclean Model' in R. Sorabji, R.W. Sharples, eds Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD, (Institute of Classical Studies London). In: Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD, vol. 1. London: Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, pp. 243
Trepanier, S. (2003) Empedocles on the Ultimate Symmetry of the World. In: Sedley, D. (ed.) Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Volume XXIV. Oxford University Press, pp. 01-58