Showing and Telling Classics in Children’s Culture – from Roehampton to Cardiff

In the summer of last year, a rather wonderful event took place in the University Library here at Roehampton tied in with the Our Mythical Childhood project. This was a classical-reception-in-children’s-culture Show & Tell. In the morning, participants each shared an artefact from children’s culture that is shaped in some way by classics. This ranged from books, including those which participants had themselves read as children, to minifigures, to – in my case – my treble recorder, an ‘aulos.’ Then, in the afternoon, we had a tour of the Children’s Literature collections at Roehampton and followed this with a treasure hunt in the collections. We all then shared our discoveries with the group. Karen Pierce wrote several pieces about the event in her blog.

Karen is now organising a second Show & Tell, this time at the Arts and Social Sciences Library at Cardiff University, which is also her workplace. This takes place on Wednesday 31 July 2019 – for details, including how to get further information, please see Karen’s lovely poster – in English and in Welsh. You can also email Karen:

Aspects of Eros: The Roehampton panel for FIEC 2019

In an earlier posting to this blog, I put up a notice about the CA/FIEC congress – a major event in the world of Classics. The 2019 congress starts very soon, and, on Saturday, the Roehampton panel will take place: on a theme – eros – that draws together one of our areas of common research.

The panellists are, in order of their presentations: José Magalhães (Impact Officer who has just completed a PhD on para-philia in ancient Greece), Marco Fantuzzi (Professor of Classics), Shushma Malik (Lecturer in Classics) and Helen Slaney (Research Bids Manager and deep classicist). The panel will be chaired by our Head of Classics, Fiona McHardy. The overall rationale of the panel is below, followed by each panellist’s title and abstract.


The Roehampton panel considers depictions of ancient sex, seduction, desire, and love, both from antiquity and later periods. We begin with mythology, where sex and seduction not only took place between humans, but between humans and gods, and humans (usually women) and animals. Magalhães interrogates the varying nuances between these different scenarios, principally the stories of Pasiphae, Leda and Europa in both literary and material sources. From the gods of mythology to the singers and shepherds of Theocritus’ Idylls, Fantuzzi explores the nature of eros required for a happy-ending love story. Desperation and desolation, Fantuzzi argues, are not necessarily antithetical to a happy ending, as Idyll 27 shows. More joyful, however, about desire and antiquity is the eighteenth-century poet Goethe. In the first of two reception papers, Slaney considers the advice offered by Goethe’s Amor: that pursuit of sexual pleasure will allow the past to come alive, thus making the past itself the subject of reciprocal desire. But, such desire can be dangerous in the hands of a woman, as shown by Malik in the final paper of the panel. By exploring the depictions of the ‘Modern Messalinas’ Marie Antoinette and Mata Hari in the political and popular press, Malik argues that the archetypal Julio-Claudian seductress is as ‘tarred’ by the brush of her later counterparts as they were by her. In sum this panel offers four case studies with which to think about the problematics of ancient sex and love, and how the past can become an emblem of desire or of disgust.

José Magalhães, Pasiphae’s Interspecies Eros

Sex between animals, or animal-shaped figures, and humans is a common topic in Greek mythology. In this paper, I will focus particularly on three of these encounters, namely those involving Leda, Europa and Pasiphae. Although they share several common traits, there is one fundamental difference that separates the first two from Pasiphae, namely that Leda and Europa engage in intercourse with an animal-shaped Zeus while Pasiphae, through divinely-inspired lust, copulates with an actual bull. This is a key factor to consider when exploring these three mythological figures since it becomes clear that, when analysing the several accounts of these myths, they are considered under very different lights by the ancient sources. In this paper, I will explore why these mythological figures were treated differently, analysing both literary and iconographic sources, while also exploring the social value that these myths carried

Marco Fantuzzi, Sex but Family: Strategies of Cultural Justification of Happy Ending Love

Idyll 27 is the most accomplished happy ending love story in the Corpus Theocriteum. This poem explores an erotic atmosphere which is opposite to the bleack atmosphere of desperate desolation that characterizes the love songs in Theocritus’ poems, with the single exception of Id. 6. Id. 27 expands to the whole narrative the irenic relation of reciprocal love between the two singers Daphnis and Comatas, of Id. 6, while the dialogic masquerade between them appears to re-invent as a happy ending story the desperate love of the Cyclops for Galatea in Id. 11. Both poems would commit themselves to presenting a Daphnis who acts as a strategist of love in contrast with the tragic end of the prototypal Daphnis whose love pains according to Id. 1 and the ancient commentators would have provided the protypal theme of pre-Theocritean bucolic poetry. Therefore both Id. 6 and Id. 27 appear to react to the prevailingly negative and desperate eros of Theocritus’ characters (and of most characters of erotic poetry of the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic times), and to pursue an idea of eros which may be in tune, and not in contrast with the shepherds’ profession. Id. 27, in particular, appears to develop an erotodidascalic, almost Menandrean discourse which – well beyond the bucolic dimension – presents love and sex as structured according to standard male vs female norms of behaviour and language and, as thus, prefacing the socially established perspective of happily/ruly procreation and family. That erotodidascalic dimension of Id. 27 is investigated in parallel with the strikingly similar illustrations of male/female language of wooing and seduction in the “Homeric” Hymn to Aphrodite.

Shushma Malik, Sex, sedition, and Modern Messalinas

Few women in history have been held up as symbols of sexual deviance to a greater extent than Messalina. Juvenal labels her the meretrix Augusta (prostitute empress) and Tacitus accuses her of pursuing incognitas libidines (untried lusts). It is hardly surprising, then, that centuries after the empress’ death, Marie Antoinette was dubbed La Messaline Moderne by the popular press (1780s) and the notorious and enigmatic ‘spy’ Mata Hari was condemned as a ‘sort of Messalina’ by the French prosecutor during her trial for treason (1917).  While all three women were vilified for their promiscuity, the problematics of their alleged sexual relationships were different. With Messalina, the danger lay in her sex outside marriage. This was compounded by her weak-willed husband whose ear she too often had. But sex outside of marriage was only the beginning for Marie Antoinette. Her role as seductress extended to her own son, the dauphin. With Mata Hari, her outright refusal to continue in the role of wife and mother made her capacity to influence high-ranking men through sex all the more corrupt. Tying all three women together with the moniker Messalina applies a temporal and spatial universality to the threat of sexually predatory women. Conversely, however, these Modern Messalina’s also add credence to the accounts of Tacitus and Juvenal, who had correctly recognised their own generation’s femme fatale. Thus, as the image of Messalina shapes the conception of her modern counterparts, so too do Marie Antoinette and Mata Hari shape Messalina in the modern age.

Helen Slaney, Pleasure as a paradigm of reception in Goethe’s Roman Elegies

“Live joyfully,” (Lebe glücklich), the god Amor instructs Goethe’s amator, “and the past will come back to life in you.” Glück is used throughout the Römische Elegien (1795) as a synonym for pleasure, particularly sexual consummation. By applying the mask of elegy to the persona of a modern poet-lover, Goethe establishes a relationship to Roman antiquity predicated on reciprocated desire. The amator functions both as a living realization of Augustan elegy – an extended role-play, of sorts – and at the same time as a cultivated riposte. His lover “Faustina” stands in for an eroticized fascination with early imperial Rome, but unlike the lost beloved city of Ovid’s Tristia, Goethe’s Rome is instead a pleasure repeatedly regained.

Why I decided to study Classics (from scratch) at Roehampton – by Rebecca Dillon

I started my university experience in September 2015, and recently graduated in June 2018 with a first class honours in Classical Civilisation, and the Classical Civilisation award for contribution to the course. My university degree has inspired me for my future, and I am now continuing my studies as an MRes student in Classical Research still at Roehampton. I chose to stay on because of the support I have received from staff throughout my undergraduate degree was the reason I was inspired to continue, and I knew that I would be able to write a 30,000 word project with their support.

When I was in college, I really enjoyed my history classes but I seemed to struggle a little learning about Nazi Germany and other similar periods. I think it might have been because although I love learning about the past, my heart wasn’t in the right place with modern history. I didn’t get the urge to ask questions or to find out more than what I was told by my teacher that I have come to do with classics. So when it was time to look at university courses, I thought about looking into Ancient history instead, as I was interested in Pompeii, and the ‘Percy Jackson’ series by Rick Riordan. My Religious Studies teacher happened to suggest Roehampton University to me as a possible option, and my mum came across Classical Civilisation while looking into the possible courses I could take.

I decided to go to an open day, where Roehampton put an emphasis on how I didn’t need any background knowledge to start this degree as the first year would be accommodated to students of different levels. Despite this, when I first started I was still really nervous to be surrounded by people who knew so much more than me. Instead of this putting me off, I felt the need to push through, and the friends I had made on my course helped me during my coursework when I was too nervous to go to the lecturers.

I think the benefit of starting university with no prior knowledge in classics stems from the pure interest by the student. I had no knowledge but was really interested, so I found myself looking everywhere and drinking in all of the information about the Greeks and Romans. The university teaching process also works well with no knowledge as you are not spoon-fed all of the information, so when a lecturer states something, you have more questions which you can develop within essays. Why did that author feel the need to write about that period? Why did the ancient Greeks not view this the way we do now, or differently from the Romans? I believe that the innocence of the degree helped me build my essays as I did not take certain facts for granted, thus would reference better, and I would expand on my evidence more naturally.

Rebecca Dillon

Third annual celebration of Roehampton classical student research

I’m delighted to send out a reminder of an event taking place a week today – Friday 1 June – at Roehampton. This will be a celebration of research by classical students on the BA, Master’s and PhD programmes. For further details including on speakers and how to book, go to this site:

It’s organised BY students too – by a team of current MRes candidates.

FIEC/CA 2019 Revised Call for Panels and Posters

The 15th International Congress of FIEC (Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques) will take place in London from 4-8 July, 2019. It will be hosted by the Classical Association, the Hellenic Society and the Roman Society, in collaboration with the Institute of Classical Studies, University College London, King’s College London, Birkbeck College, Royal Holloway University of London and… us: the University of Roehampton!

It is our pleasure to share the revised call for panels and posters from the National Organizing Committee (on which Roehampton sits).


This is a revised call responding to helpful feedback from many individuals and organizations following our earlier notice. Please note that among other changes the date for submissions is now 1st September 2018 and we now welcome proposals for all-women panels. Further details of the conference, including details of conference fees, venues, keynote lectures and excursions, the conference code of conduct and details of how to book, will be available in the autumn from the conference website which is under construction.

The 15th conference of the Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques will take place in conjunction with the 2019 Classical Association annual conference on 4th-8th July 2019 in the Institute of Education (UCL) in London. FIEC business meetings will take place on 4th July, and the conference proper will begin on 5th July.

We expect hundreds of classicists from all over the world and at any stage in their career to attend, to hear plenary lectures from international leaders in our field, to present and hear papers, to participate in debates and discussions and to take part in cultural activities and workshops.

The Programme Committee is now inviting proposals for panels and posters.

Each panel will be of 2 hours duration. We anticipate that many panels will consist of 4 short papers united by a common theme. We also invite proposals for panels and workshops in different formats, so long as they fit within a 2 hour block to faciltate timetabling.

The Programme Committee aims to select a range of panels that reflects the breadth of traditional and non-traditional classics, including but not limited to Greek and Latin literatures of all periods, linguistics, ancient history in its widest sense, philosophy and religion, art and archaeology, Neo-Latin and Byzantine studies, and the past and current reception of the classics in all media and in different cultures and traditions. We also welcome panels drawing on comparative and interdisciplinary studies. We anticipate there will be panels discussing national traditions in classical research and that some panels will deal with non-Greek peoples such as Etruscans, Persians and Phoenicians. We especially encourage panels dealing with pedagogy and outreach.

Our principle criterion of selection will be academic quality. But we are also keen to create a programme that reflects the full variety of our subject and the diversity of those who study and teach it.

It is the tradition of both FIEC and the Classical Association to represent as wide a range of speakers as possible. Panels are more likely to be selected if they include speakers from more than one country, and if they include junior as well as senior speakers. Panels consisting only of men are unlikely to be selected unless a powerful case is made for an exception. Following feedback and discussion we accept that we were wrong to initially discourage all women panels.

We also accept that not all participants are comfortable with binary categories. We seek to be as flexible and inclusive as possible in relation to gender identity. We invite any potential participant who wishes to contact the Programme Committee Chair in confidence about this.

Each panel proposal should include a title for the session, the names and affiliations of all speakers, and a 150 word abstract for each paper and for the panel as a whole. The deadline for proposals is 1st September 2018. They should be sent to FIEC 2019. One named person should be the proposer and should provide a contact e-mail. It is not necessary that she or he be the chair of the panel, but if not then the name of the chair should be indicated in the proposal. If the proposal is for a very different format to a multi-speaker panel, the proposer is strongly encouraged to contact the Programme Committee as far in advance as possible.

The Programme Committee expects to make its selections in early autumn/Fall. It may contact proposers for clarification or to suggest changes to proposals during this period. Its decisions will be final.

The Programme Committee also invites proposals for posters. Posters may present individual or collaborative projects, and scholars of all career stages are encourage to apply. Proposals for posters should also be sent to FIEC 2019 by the 1st September and selection will take place on the same time scale as for panels. Proposals for posters should include a 150 word description of the subject and the name and contact details of the poster presenter. We consider posters an excellent way for individuals whose work does not fit into panels to participate, and we particularly welcome proposals from those not usually able to participate in international conferences.

Once proposals for panels or posters are accepted we will be glad to issue formal invitations for those who need them either to satisfy institutional regulations or visa requirements. We aim to have all this completed by 1st December 2018 and earlier if possible.

Please note that we are not inviting proposals for individual papers.

Details of student bursaries will also be published in due course on the conference website, along with suggestions for accommodation and cultural attractions. Attendees, including those giving papers in panels, and/or presenting posters, will need to make pay their own travel and accommodation costs given the large number of delegates and speakers expected.

We are confident that FIEC/CA 2019 will be an exciting and memorable event and we look forward very much to welcoming you in London next year.

The National Organizing Committee
May 2018