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

Dear all,


We are delighted to invite you to a one-day workshop organized by the Novel Echoes ERC-project at Ghent University, as part of the Ghent-Kent-Lille cross-border programme, taking place on November 18th 2022.

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

Fiction Across Boundaries

18th November 2022


This is the fourth and final meeting of a series of 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?


Following the previous meetings in Ghent (4th February), Kent (25th February) and Lille (13th May), this meeting aims to continue the discussions developed throughout the year about different manifestations of fiction across the imperial period into Late Antiquity and beyond, with the particular goal of breaking down boundaries between Christian and pagan approaches to fiction. By allowing for a diversity of voices and a breadth of approaches to this topic, these workshops aim to develop a more nuanced and a more generous conception of fiction in postclassical antiquity and to point towards new directions for future research on this theme.


Programme (all times CET):

9:45-10:30: Janet Downie (North Carolina, Chapel Hill): Longus as Theorist of Fictional Worlds: the Mythos of Chloe Reconsidered

10:30-11:15: Thomas Lorson (Lille): Mormo, the spirit of Lucianic fiction

11:15-11:45: break

11:45-12:30: Olivier Demerre (Ghent): (Sophistic) rhetoric and emotional control in Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe

12:30-14:00: lunch

14:00-14:45: Benjamin De Vos (Ghent): The Moral and Metaliterary Depth of Mattidia’s Role in the Pseudo-Clementines: Christian Fiction and the Notion of ‘Dehellenization’

14:45-15:30: Charis Messis (Athens): Les îles désertes dans la fiction byzantine (du roman au récit hagiographique) – The desert islands in Byzantine fiction (from the novel to the hagiographic narrative) [in French]

15:30-16:00: break

16:00-16:45: Anna Lefteratou (Cambridge): Do we need the happy end? Eudocia’s Cyprian and Justa and Musaeus’ Hero and Leander.

16:45-17:00: break

17:00-18:00 Final Discussion

18:00: Drinks


The workshop will be held in-person at the Oude Infirmerie at Het Pand (Onderbergen 1, Gent), and will be streamed online via Microsoft Teams. Please register via this link by the end of Wednesday November 16th to register and receive the link for the online workshop. If you would like to attend the workshop in-person please contact us as soon as possible.


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 and the European Research Council through the Novel Echoes project hosted at Ghent University.


Please don’t hesitate to get in touch ( or if you have any queries, and we hope to see many of you there.


All the best,


Dr. Claire Rachel Jackson

Postdoctoral Researcher, ‘Novel Echoes’ project

Blandijnberg 2

9000 Ghent