Italian

Europa Project: Tradition as Transformation

This project aims to engage undergraduate and graduate students in Italian with the study of the classical myth of Europa in its history of adaptations across languages, media and genres, highlighting and questioning its three main narratives of migration, gender, and ethnicity.

According to the classical myth, Europa was the name of a young princess from Phoenicia (the modern-day coastal regions of Lebanon and Syria) who was seduced by the god Zeus, in disguise as a white bull, and abducted to the island of Crete. Classical commentators explained that the bull into which the Greek god transformed himself is a metaphor for a ship, and this myth elaborates on a history of migrations and forced marriages across the Mediterranean Sea. The myth is constructed with strong narratives of erotic seduction as cultural and political conquest, which have significant implications in terms of the representation of gender (the male god) and ethnicity (the white bull). 

 The study of the Europa myth will be carried out with particular attention to cultural and social aspects of identity formation, so that the process of interpreting the myth in its diverse traditions becomes itself a journey of transformation, enhancing the sense of belonging and becoming in the construction of transnational European identities. 

 Running over the academic year 2017-18, this project wants to be a forward-looking contribution to current debates about the future of Europe, the University’s part in it and the role of a community of engaged learners in the formation, transmission, and transformation of a sense of European citizenship. The guiding ethos of this project is that myths of origins must be constantly re-interpreted in a collective, critical, and creative effort to generate more inclusive and progressive narratives, nurturing an imaginative, open, and transformative relationship to cultural traditions.

Project coordinator: Dr Davide Messina (d.messina@ed.ac.uk)

Forthcoming events

This open seminar in Italian Studies at the University of Edinburgh connects and celebrates three important anniversaries: the European Treaty of Rome (1957), Ovid’s bimillennium, and the first translation in print of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Renaissance Italy (1497). The study of the early-modern interpretations, translations, and adaptations of the founding myth of Europa, as told in the Metamorphoses, will lead to a broader discussion on the creation of a European cultural identity and the meaning of this myth today.