Call for Papers 15th Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Crisis and Resilience in Hellenistic Poetry

The Department of Greek and Latin at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) hereby announces the fifteenth workshop in the series “Workshops on Hellenistic Poetry” to be held in Groningen on 15-17 September 2021 (Wednesday–Friday). We will ensure that an online version of the conference is organized in parallel. This will allow the conference to go ahead online in case of possible travel restrictions related to Covid-19, but will also enable more participants to follow proceedings online if the conference takes place in physical form.

The theme of this workshop will be Crisis and Resilience in Hellenistic Poetry.

Crises come in many forms. War, famine and illness plague humanity, and severe personal crises (conflict, rejection, loss) are also an integral part of human condition. The challenge for individuals has always been to overcome crisis, both on a global and on a personal level. In different ages, such resilience has looked different. It can take the form of increased religiosity, superstition, or even attempts at magic, increased violence and revenge or attempts at reconciliation, and we also see a turn to different forms of philosophy. The Hellenistic age is especially famous for its philosophical schools (most notably Epicureanism and Stoicism) that propagate peace of mind through ataraxia (serene calmness) and apatheia (freedom from emotions). These philosophies influenced the literature of the age: it has been suggested that Epicureanism influenced Theocritean poetry, and it has been established that Stoic backgrounds colour Aratus’ Phaenomena and Kleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus. But beyond philosophy, all sorts of individual emotional coping mechanisms can be imagined in response to crisis. They range from practical solutions to global crises (migration, rebuilding of cities, peace treaties) to emotional responses to personal crises (e.g., denial, agression, apology, appeasement, forgiveness and mourning rituals).

This issue of the Groningen Hellenistic Workshop will focus on the theme of crisis and resilience as it is depicted in Hellenistic Poetry. To what extent can we find echoes of this topic in Hellenistic poetry, and what realities do they reflect? We can think, for instance, of epic depictions of the aftermath of personal and political conflict and revenge, flight and ritual purification (Argonautica), attempts to reach peace of mind after heartbreak (Theocritus, epigram), or the appeasing of angered divinities (Callimachus’ hymns).

Some potential key issues are: the extent of influence of philosophical tenets on depictions of (personal) resilience in Hellenistic poetry; the role of Ptolemaic ideology in finding new ways of coping with crises; the role of gods and religion in crises and their aftermaths; the diverse emotional and rational mechanisms that emerge as a response to crises; intertextual approaches to earlier treatments of crisis and resilience; the metapoetical dimensions of resilience (to what extent is poetry a solution to personal and other crises?). But of course the theme is not limited to this, and we welcome further suggestions along these lines.

Scholars who wish to contribute a paper to the workshop are requested to send an e-mail to with the title of their paper and a brief abstract (1 page) by 31 December 2020 and, when their offer is accepted, to send a PDF of the complete text of the paper by 1 May 2021, so that it can be distributed among the participants well in advance of the workshop. During the workshop itself there will be time for a short introduction (ca. 10 minutes) followed by extensive discussion of the paper (ca. 35 minutes). The papers will be published in a volume of the series Hellenistica Groning­ana by Peeters (Leuven). They should not be longer than 20 pages.

Those who wish to take part in the discussions without contributing a paper or wish to act as a respondent are requested to send an e-mail to  before 1 April 2021.

Speakers are requested to seek funding for travel and accommodation from their own institution first. We hope to be able to cover part of the travel and accommodation expenses of speakers whose universities are unable to cover their costs in full. Should this situation apply to you, please let us know once your abstract has been accepted. Other participants (including respondents) should provide their own funds and budget for a conference fee of €100 (€50 for students), which covers catering (tea, coffee and lunches) and documentation.


Auteur/autrice : Christophe Cusset

Ancien élève de l'ENS Fontenay/ Saint-Cloud. Agrégé de Lettres classiques. Docteur ès Lettres (Université Lyon II). Professeur de littérature grecque à l'ENS de Lyon.

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