Guest seminar by Benedek Kruchio on ‘Heliodorus’s Aethiopica and early Christian hermeneutics: a “historically informed” approach’

The first lecture in our online seminar series will be given by Dr Benedek Kruchio (Universität Regensburg) on ‘Heliodorus’s Aethiopica and early Christian hermeneutics: a “historically informed” approach’.



The intellectual landscape of late antiquity was characterised by overlapping yet competing reading communities – philosophers, pepaideumenoi, and Christians – all of whom laid claim to the classical literary heritage in order to substantiate their own teachings. Focusing on Heliodorus’s Aethiopica (approx. 4th cent. C.E.), this paper asks the neglected question of how this ‘predatory’ environment informs our understanding of the contemporary literary production and its early reception. Is antiquity’s most virtuosic novel a ‘pagan’ or Christian work? Is it best understood as contributing to the same religious project as, for example, apocryphal acts and saints’ lives – or does Heliodorus fashion his novel in opposition to Christian narrative? I argue that such questions are based on an overly static understanding of texts, audiences, and their relationship: we need new, dynamic concepts to grasp the cultural framework and ideological force of late antique literature.


Please email for the link.

Guest seminar by Nunzio Bianchi on ‘From Babylon to Byzantium: Iamblichus’ novel and its reception’

The final lecture in our online seminar series will be given by Dr Nunzio Bianchi (Università degli studi di Bari Aldo Moro) on ‘From Babylon to Byzantium: Iamblichus’ novel and its reception’.


Iamblichos’ novel (generally dated to the second half of the second century AD), the Babylonian Tales (Βαβυλωνιακά, Babyloniaka), unfortunately has been lost and is known only through scattered fragments of various extent: an excerpt within the historical anthologies compiled for/by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (905-959, emperor since 913), the so-called Excerpta Constantiniana; a some one hundred short quotations included in the massive tenth-century dictionary-encyclopaedia known as the Suda. And the earlier and the most important evidence: the epitome by Photios (9th century), patriarch of Constantinople, in chapter 94 of his Library (Bibliotheca), which informs us about the extraordinary and complex plot of this novel and its author.

I would like to provide an overview of the these testimonies with particular regard to Photios in an attempt to understand if it is possible to recognize in his summary specific words and expressions as actually belonging to Iamblichos’ novel. Unlike Photios, a somewhat different approach to the texts manifests in the anthologies of Constantine VII, which aimed to provide the reader not with brief summaries, but literal and more extended extracts. The latest evidence for Iamblichos’ novel comes from the Suda: it was compiled at roughly the same time, most likely in the same imperial and cultural milieu of the Excerpta Constantiniana, and probably made with the same textual materials, but with different purposes.

This overview on survival and loss of the Babylonian Tales in the Byzantine period starts with the oldest and problematic reference to Iamblichos: the mention of his name –which is literally possible, but not textually certain– in the late fourth-century medical treatise by Theodorus Priscianus.


Please contact Evelien Bracke for the link.

Talk for the Department of Literature: Claire Jackson en Koen De Temmerman: “Novel Echoes: Receptions of the Ancient Novel in Postclassical Traditions”

The Literature Department invites you to the following lecture on Thursday 17th December at 12 noon. Claire Jackson and Koen De Temmerman will introduce the Novel Echoes project: “Novel Echoes: Receptions of the Ancient Novel in Postclassical Traditions”.

More information and the zoom link on the website of the Literature Department:

Organizer: LSW

Conference: Enchanted reception: Religion and the supernatural in medieval Troy narratives 

Enchanted reception: Religion and the supernatural in medieval Troy narratives  


Date: Thursday-Friday, 3-4 June 2021

Organizer:  Novel Echoes: Tine Scheijnen and Ellen Söderblom Saarela

Registrations have now closed.

Participants can join via this page:

Enchanted Reception is a two-day workshop with the aim of exploring the place of enchantment, myth, and religion in both Eastern and Western medieval narratives about Troy, or narratives that are influenced by motifs related or parallel to the narrative of the Trojan war. Together with scholars specialising in the different language traditions of medieval literature, we aim to explore the following questions from a transnational approach:

•    How did contemporary (e.g. literary and socio-cultural) developments influence medieval adaptations of the supernatural and pagan religion in medieval Troy narratives?
•    What role does the Troy motif play in other literary works?
•    How are rationalization and “Christianization” used to deal with the medieval unease evoked by certain aspects of ancient mythology?
•    From a comparative perspective, how can we map such processes transnationally, e.g. in the different language and literature traditions of the medieval world?
•    How do these questions engage with themes such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and cross-cultural connections?

Day 1

13.30    13.45    Welcome (Koen De Temmerman)


Session 1          Enchanting Amazons

Chair: Adam Goldwyn

13.45     14.15     Ellen Söderblom Saarela (Ghent University)

Amazoneises, puceles corteises”: Interpreting the Amazon’s Place in Courtly Romance

14.15     14.45     Hilke Hoogenboom (Leiden University)

Femme Fatale: Penthesilea and the Last Stand of Chivalry in Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Destructionis Troiae

14.45     15.15     Allison Treese (University of Leicester)

O flower of chivalry”: Christine de Pizan and the Christianization of Amazons

15.15     15.45     Discussion


15.45    16.00    Break


Session 2          Troy in the New World

Chair: Nicola McDonald

16.00     16.30     Megan Moore (University of Missouri)

The Mediterranean & the Translation of Emotional Communities: Troy & Legacies of Heroism

16.30    17.00    Susannah Wright (Harvard University)

Troy Translated, Troy Transformed: Case Studies in Medieval Celtic Literature

17.00    17.30    Tine Scheijnen (Ghent University)

Facing the Other: Medieval Reconceptions of Trojan Identity

17.30    18.00    Discussion


18.00    19.00    Breakout reception (using the platform “Wonder”)


Day 2

Session 3          Reshapings of Troy

Chair: Evelien Bracke

13.30    14.00    José Miguel de Toro (Catholic University of Concepción)

The War of Troy in Encyclopedic Literature: the Case of Lambert’s Liber floridus

14.00    14.30    Marco Brunetti (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Insititut-für-Kunstgeschichte)

Figural and Literary Functional Recoveries of the Trojan Myths from Late Antiquity to Renaissance Age

14.30    15.00    Sophie Schoess (University of St Andrews)

Objects of Worship: The Place of Idols in Mediaeval Troy Narratives

15.00    15.30    Discussion


15.30    15.45    Break


Session 4          Byzantine Enchantments

Chair: Megan Moore

15.45    16.15    Adam Goldwyn (North Dakota State University)

The Sexual Politics of Myth: Rewriting and Unwriting Women in Byzantine Accounts of the Trojan War

16.15    16.45    Baukje van den Berg (Central European University)

Supernatural Rhetoric and Gendered Eloquence: Eustathios and Tzetzes on Hermes, Athena, and the Muses

16.45    17.15    Agnese Fontana (University of Genoa)

What If King David Had Fought at Troy? The Trojan Narrative in Byzantine World Chronicles (VI-XII Century): Religious, Historical and Political Issues

17.15    17.45    Discussion


17.45 – 18.00     End discussion

Chair: Ellen and Tine

For more information, please email Dr Tine Scheijnen ( or Dr Ellen Söderblom Saarela (

This workshop is organized as part of and supported by the ERC project Novel Echoes and the FWO project The romance between Greece and the west (see



Olivier Demerre speaks at RICAN conference

9th Rethymnon International Conference on the Ancient Novel: Body and Text in the Ancient Novel
9-11 OCTOBER 2019, XENIA

17:30: Olivier Demerre on “Catching bodies, catching texts: Longus and Ovid on hunting”



Reading group on Gellius

Together with colleagues from the Latin Section, Olivier Demerre organises a regular reading group on Gellius. The first session takes place on 29th October in the Camelot room (130.012 Blandijn).

Reading group on Gellius (meeting 2)

Together with colleagues from the Latin Section, Olivier Demerre organises a regular reading group on Gellius. The second session takes place on 29th November.

Reading Group on Gellius meeting 3

Together with colleagues from the Latin Section, Olivier Demerre organises a regular reading group on Gellius. The third session takes place on the 3rd December.


Permanente vorming: Christendom en Kunst

Lezingenreeks georganiseerd door het Centrum voor de Studie van Christelijke Tradities en de Vakgroep Wijsbegeerte en Moraalwetenschap