Workshop: Lexicologie et lexicographie syriaque

Together with Professor Riccardo Contini, Mara Nicosia is the organizer of the atelier “Lexicologie et lexicographie syriaque” at the 13th Symposium Syriacum (Paris, 4th-9th July 2022). More information soon.

WORKSHOP: Ancient concepts of fiction and narrative in the imperial period and late antiquity

Ancient Concepts of Fiction and Narrative in the Imperial Period and Late Antiquity

Fiction in Transition

Date: 4th February 2022


Participants may access the recordings of this workshop here.

We are delighted to invite you to a one-day online workshop organized by the Novel Echoes ERC-project at Ghent University, as part of the Ghent-Kent-Lille cross-border research programme, taking place on February 4th 2022.


This is the first of a series of three workshops co-organised by the universities of Ghent, Kent, and Lille, organized with the aim of generating new insights on the distinctions between true, false, and plausible narratives in the Mediterranean region 100-700 CE, a period of transition from pluralist polytheism to a Christian Empire and from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. This period saw a flourishing of different kinds of narratives with differing claims to truth. How do such attitudes to truth, fiction, and lies and their interrelationship alter during this period and how is this manifest in the written narratives?


This first workshop explores in particular texts from Late Antiquity as an inflection point for these kinds of concerns. Recent scholarship has done much to encourage a more diverse and productive approach to pagan and Christian literature rather than seeing the two as a strict dichotomy, but more work remains to be done on both the sheer breadth of underexplored texts from this period and the diversity of their engagement with questions of truth and falsehood. This workshop aims to explore this crucial transition period by looking at a variety of works which test the boundaries of such binary periodizations and open up a more nuanced understanding of fiction between and across such diverse narratives.


Please email Claire Rachel Jackson ( and/or Nicolò D’Alconzo ( to register and receive the link for the online workshop.

The poster may be downloaded here.


Programme: (All times given are CET)

9:45-10:00       Introduction

10:00-10:45     Claire Rachel Jackson (Ghent): ‘Fiction, Plausibility, and Miracles in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina’

10:45-11:30       Rachel Bird (Swansea): ‘From the Divine to the Ridiculous? Narrative Technique and the Suspension of Disbelief in The Life of St Mary of Egypt’

11:30-12:00      Break

12:00-12:45      Jason König (St Andrews): ‘Autopsy and truth in The History of the Monks in Egypt, Palladius’ Lausiac History, and Theodoret’s Religious History’

12:45-14:00      Break

14:00-14:45      Katherine Krauss (Oxford): ‘Fiction in the Historia Apollonii Regis Tyri’

14:45-15:30      Nicola Schmid-Dümmler (Zürich): ‘Revisiting Musaeus and Achilles Tatius: Seductive narratorial voices’

15:30-16:00      Break

16:00-16:45      Julie Van Pelt (Ghent): ‘Journeys Between History and Fiction: the Life of Makarios the Roman’

16:45-17:30      Stephen Trzaskoma (New Hampshire): ‘Praeparatio Martyriologica: Displays of Truth and Novelistic Virtue by Sts. Kerkyra and Romanos’

17:30-18:00      Round up discussion

18:00-19:00      Virtual drinks reception


The next workshop will be organized at the University of Kent on February 25th 2022, with details to be circulated in the near future.

The workshop series is organized by Ruth Webb (Lille), Anne Alwis (Kent), and Koen De Temmerman (Ghent), with funding generously provided by the 3i research fund of the University of Lille.

‘Retoriek in de politieke arena’: Gastcollege door Herman Van Rompuy

Van Barack Obama’s “Yes, we can!” tot de oneliners van Bart De Wever; van Donald Trumps “big, beautiful wall” tot de vaak bedenkelijke manieren waarop de voorbije jaren het Brexit-debat in het VK is gevoerd: speech is “hot”, en de kunst van het overtuigen geniet de laatste tijd hernieuwde aandacht in binnen- en buitenland. Overtuiging werkt aan de hand van eeuwenoude technieken en concepten die reeds in de oudheid werden getheoretiseerd en gesystematiseerd. Zij zijn het onderwerp van de cursus Antieke retoriek aan de UGent. In het kader van dat vak nodigen we de heer Herman Van Rompuy, minister van staat en Emeritus Voorzitter van de Europese Raad, uit voor een gastcollege over Retoriek in de politieke arena. Hij zal hierin spreken over de efficiëntie van oude retorische technieken in een nieuw tijdperk.

Dit evenement is open voor het publiek, maar gratis registratie is verplicht.

The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies: a philosophical and rhetorical novel from Late Antiquity (International conference)

The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies: a philosophical and rhetorical novel from Late Antiquity

Keynote speakers:

Dominique Côté (University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa)

Meinolf Vielberg  (Universität Jena)


Other confirmed speakers

William Adler (North Carolina University)

Patricia Duncan (Texas Catholic University)

George Gereby (Central European University)

Tobias Nicklas (Universität Regensburg)


Conference Aims

This conference wants to bring together four fields of study: the ancient novel, ancient philosophy, ancient rhetoric, and Jewish-Christian narrative. We aim to study one Greek novel from different perspectives: the so-called Pseudo-Clementine Homilies.

The conference sets out to explore the intellectual context of this novel and the ways in which the Homilies had an impact on readers in Late Antiquity. By approaching the Homilies as a philosophical and rhetorical work in its own right, the conference seeks not only to improve our understanding of the Homilies as a late ancient novel, but also the role of philosophy and rhetoric in the religious narratives of Late Antiquity. We welcome studies on

1. the role of philosophy in the Homilies: e.g. the presentation of Christianity as the true philosophy, the influence of Plato, the Sophists, and other philosophical traditions in the Homilies.

2. rhetorical techniques used in the numerous disputations within the novel and in the characterisation of the main protagonists, and

3. novelistic topoi as structural elements: the function of novelistic motives in the Homilies



You can find the full programme here.

To register, please email Benjamin De Vos at



Benjamin De Vos, Danny Praet and Koen De Temmerman

Guest seminar by Silvia Montiglio on ‘The popularity of Heliodorus among Byzantine critics and readers’

The second seminar in our series is by Silvia Montiglio (Johns Hopkins): ‘The popularity of Heliodorus among Byzantine critics and readers’.

Abstract: This talk focuses on the reception of Heliodorus by Byzantine scholars and readers. I emphasize (1) that every witness, regardless of provenance and level of sophistication, suggests that the Aethiopica was not only the most beloved novel in the period but was known far beyond scholarly circles; (2) that many aspects of the Byzantine exegesis of the novel are legitimately and deeply grounded in the text itself.

Please email for the zoom link.

Guest seminar by Ellen Söderblom Saarela on ‘She must write her self, she did write her self: Hysmine’s voice from within the wrong’

The third seminar in our online series is by Dr Ellen Söderblom Saarela (UGent) on ‘She must write her self, she did   write her self: Hysmine’s voice from within the wrong’.


We are at threshold towards the safe, happy, familiar ending of the tale. The lovers have been out on their adventures, fought against their obstacles, and here they are: safe and sound back home, to everyone’s delight. Hysminias, the narrator of Eumathios Makrembolites’ twelfth-century Byzantine novel, has recounted the events of his and his beloved Hysmine’s journeys towards their festive reunion. And now they want to hear Hysmine talk about her experiences of it, but she rejects their request. Why doesn’t Hysmine want to speak, why doesn’t she want to tell the others’ her story?

My talk circles around novel and romance heroines’ relation to storytelling, or the literary tradition. Other than Hysmine and Hysminias, mentioned above, I will discuss Chrétien de Troyes’ Old French romance Cligès, along with other relevant (clear or potential) intertextual works. The aim of my talk is to discern the presence of a perspective of a female reader of the literary tradition in the narratives. By discussing potential parallels between Old French and Byzantine literature, I aim to demonstrate the possibility to interpret articulations of female voices, or representations of female experiences, as forming part of the romance and novel genre that is under development during the twelfth century.

Hysmine then gives in, and tells the others of her past experiences. In my talk I will present an interpretation of her voice, as well as others, and its place in a world where “modesty inhibits a maidenly tongue”, to use her own words.

Please email for the zoom link.

Guest seminar by Paolo Brusa on ‘From wandering to destitution: a shift in Heliodoran peregrinatio in 17th-century Spain’

The fourth lecture in our online seminar series will be given by Paolo Brusa (Freie Universität Berlin) on ‘From wandering to destitution: a shift in Heliodoran peregrinatio in 17th-century Spain’


“Then nobody shall hold my peregrino for a product of fancy… because a stranger’s vicissitudes are not only verisimilar, but also forcibly true”.

My talk explores how Lope de Vega’s El peregrino en su patria (1604), from which the above quote stems, initiates and condenses a peculiar phenomenon in the Spanish early modern appropriations of the Hellenistic novel: the association of the protagonists’ peregrinations with a sense of precariousness and loss. As it began circulating in the world of printed vernacular literature in 1547, the Aethiopica must appear to its early modern Western readers as a foreign tale, both in a temporal and in a spatial sense: an ancient text whose story takes place in a geographically exotic landscape. Spanish translations duly bridged that gap in familiarity with footnotes and indices, which also highlighted the value of the reading as a source of (sometimes curious) knowledge. In the first Spanish novel based on Heliodorus, however, Lope de Vega takes a different route: contravening the recommendation of Neo-Aristotelian poetics, he sets the narration on the contemporary Iberian Peninsula. He thus stages a “stranger in his own homeland”, shifting the peregrination from the physical wandering on foreign soil to a more radical destitution. In my talk, I will analyse Lope’s defiant gesture and its connections to contemporary literary theory as well as novel writing and editing practices.


Please email for the link.