School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Leventis seminars 2021/22

This seminar (not for credit) is open to postgraduate students and staff. It will be taken by Professor Roderick Beaton, Leventis Professor in Greek.

This seminar (not for credit) is open to postgraduate students and staff. Beginning on Thursday 23rd September, 2021 11am-1pm, the seminar will alternate between taking place in person and on campus.

Greek identity, ancient, medieval and modern  – snapshots over time 

This course examines the different ways in which speakers of the Greek language have defined their identity across a span of more than 2000 years, from the time when the Homeric epics were formed in the 8th century BCE, through the successive ‘civilisations’ of classical Greece, the Hellenistic world after Alexander the Great, the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, until revolution in 1821 brought into existence the national Greek state that we know today. The continuing use of a (continuously evolving) language over such a long timespan makes it possible to examine how identity (or identities) are both formed and change over time, in response to changing historical environments. 

Participants will be introduced to a series of textual ‘snapshots’, beginning with the ‘Catalogue of Ships’ in the Iliad and ending with the establishment and consolidation of Greece as a modern nation-state in the wake of the Revolution of 1821, whose 200th anniversary is commemorated this year. Questions addressed include: to what extent does continuity of language confer a continuity of identity among the speakers of that language? What common elements (apart from language) can be identified as unifying speakers of Greek across the centuries? How justified are we, as academic scholars (particularly in Western Europe and the USA), in separating the longue durée of Greek history into discrete periods and specialisms? What can we learn from comparing and contrasting expressions of communal identity in the same language at different moments in time and different historical contexts?  The course consists of 10 seminars of 2 hours each, in which the first hour will normally take the form of an informal lecture, the second will be devoted to discussion of texts (in English translation) which will have been circulated in advance. Knowledge of Greek (of any period) is not expected. 

This seminar (not for credit) is open to postgraduate students and staff. If you would like to attend please email Sara Dennison (sara.dennison@ed.ack).