Culture and Ideology under the Seleucids: an Interdisciplinary Approach

Call for papers

Culture and Ideology under the Seleucids: an Interdisciplinary Approach
29-31 March 2019
 Macquarie University, Sydney

The conference seeks to bring together historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and other scholars interested in the cultural ideologies that shaped the character of Seleucid rulership from its foundation to its end. The renewed interest in Seleucid studies in the past two decades, anticipated by Andreas Mehl and his Seleukos Nikator und sein Reich (1986), has certainly restored its early obscure scholarly profile as a dynasty that spiraled into decline soon after the death of its founder (E.R. Bevan, 1902, The House of Seleucus, 1.76). More recently, the appreciation and sensitivity of the Seleucids to the cultural symbols and traditions of the regions they ruled has attracted significant scholarly attention (for example, see D. Ogden, The Legend of Seleucus, 2017; K. Erickson, “Seleucus I, Zeus and Alexander,” in Every Inch a King, 2013 and id. “Apollo-Nabû: the Babylonian Policy of Antiochus I,” in Seleucid Dissolution, 2011; N. Wright, Divine Kings and Sacred Spaces, 2012; P.A. Beaulieu, “Nabû and Apollo: the Two Faces of Seleucid Religious Policy,” in Orient und Okzident in hellenistischer Zeit, 2014; P.J. Kosmin, “Seeing Double in Seleucid Babylonia,” in Patterns of the Past, 2014).
Equally, Seleucid archaeology has made huge strides, not only in the Levant, Turkey and Central Asia, but also in Syria and Mesopotamia; as the 2018 SCS “New Directions in Seleucid Archaeology” panel showcased, “Numerous surveys and excavations that have been initiated in the last 5-10 years in Iraq and the Gulf are producing great quantities of material of Seleucid date.”
We now think it is time to enrich the scholarly debate on the Seleucids by inviting voices from all disciplines studying the Seleucid phenomenon to contribute to it. Confirmed speakers (in alphabetical order) include:
Paul-Alain Beaulieu (Toronto)
Andreas Mehl (Halle-Wittenberg)
Rachel Mairs (Reading)
Daniel Ogden (Exeter)
Stefan Pfeiffer (Halle-Wittenberg)
Our aim is to initiate an interdisciplinary network of scholars interested in the Hellenistic successors and their regimes so that this conference can be repeated every two years in universities across the world and pave new lines of communication and new research agendas across disciplines. The Seleucids were proud of their mixed cultural background and therefore, to be able to appreciate them we need to expand our lenses of studying them.
Individuals or thematic panel representatives are invited to submit their abstracts to by July 29, 2018.

The Materiality of Hellenistic Ruler Cults

This two-day event is part of an ongoing research project: Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults (PHRC). PHRC investigates Greek ritual practice as addressed to political leaders in the Hellenistic world, from Alexander to Augustus.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 31/05-01/06/2018

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Université de Liège, 7 Place du Vingt Août, Bâtiment A, Salle de l’Horlôg,  (Liège, Belgium)






Thursday 31 May

8.30 – 9.00: Welcome

9.00 – 9.15: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège), “Introduction”

First session: “Media, supports, and circulation”

Chair: – Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge (Collège de France – ULiège)

9.15 – 10.00: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège), “L’importance de la matérialité. Le rôle des petits autels, plaques et bases inscrits dans la compréhension des cultes pour les souverains”

10.00 – 10.45: Stefan Pfeiffer (Universität Halle), “What do offerings and libations for the king in Egyptian temples mean? Remarks on the correlation of the hyper-formula and the cult in Egyptian temples”

11.00 – 11.45: Olga Palagia (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens), “Cult statues of the Ptolemies and the Attalids”

11.45 – 12.30: Anna Bertelli (Università di Padova), “Heroized citizens and divine rulers: Differences and comparisons between their cult places”

Second session: “Ritual space and practice”

Chair: Yann Berthelet (ULiège)

14.30 – 15.15: Rolf Strootman (Universiteit Utrecht) – Christina Williamson (Universiteit Groningen), “Creating a Royal Landscape: Hekatomnid Use of Sacred Sites in Fourth-Century Karia”

15.45 – 16.00: Mario Paganini (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften), “Ruler Cult in Private Settings: The Gymnasia and Associations of Hellenistic Egypt”

16.15 – 17.00: Zoé Pitz (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège), “Le choix des animaux sacrificiels dans les cultes des souverains et bienfaiteurs hellénistiques”

17.00 – 17.45: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège), “Incense in Hellenistic ruler cults”

Friday 1st June

Third session: “Agency and Funding”

Chair: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège)

9.15 – 10.15: Panagiotis Iossif (Belgian School at Athens – Radboud University) – Catharine Lorber (American Numismatic Society) “Who pays the bill? Monetary aspects of royal cult in the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms”

10.15 – 10.45: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège) – Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge (Collège de France – ULiège), “Conclusions”

Workshop: “Religion grecque, épigraphie et humanités numériques à l’ULiège”

11.00 – 12.00: Stefano Caneva (F.R.S.-FNRS – ULiège) – Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge (Collège de France – ULiège), “Religion et épigraphie grecques à la rencontre des humanités numériques. Présentation des projets Collection of Greek Ritual Norms (CGRN) et Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults (PHRC)”

Ἀρχή and origo: The Power of Origins

Call for papers

Ἀρχή and origo: The Power of Origins

(Newcastle University, 2-4 May, 2019)

Origins have a particular power. Arguments referring back to the first beginnings and relating them to the present tend to be especially attractive. When we’re in a new place or confronted with new phenomena, we have a natural urge to learn about their origins. Stories of this kind – the so-called aitia – can convey a sense of education, of venerable antiquity, of continuity, of religious awe, or they can just be entertaining. In any case, they are as prominent nowadays as they were in antiquity.

In this interdisciplinary conference we want to shed light on the fascination with origins from different perspectives: how is the power of origins employed in historiography, in literature ancient and modern, in art, in religious contexts, in philosophy, or in political debate? We are interested in exploring a wide range of case studies, in order to reflect on our overarching question: what is it that holds the different forms of aitia together? How can we understand this phenomenon in general terms? What is it that makes the origin such a fascinating and powerful form of discourse?

The papers can focus on areas as diverse as rites / cult, language, ktisis-literature, inventions, religion, philosophy, travel literature, toponymics and onomastics et al. Possible overarching questions may include, but are by no means limited to the following:

  • how does aetiology work as a creative process that collapses temporal categories (present/ past) or forges the past by explaining the present from the past?
  • What are the aesthetics involved in creating an origin in different media?
  • Which cognitive patterns are involved in this process?
  • Which forms can the fascination with origins take?
  • What do we know about the temporal and the philosophical notion of ἀρχή?
  • Which role do rationalising tendencies play in the aetiological discourse?

If you are interested in participating, we would ask you to send us an abstract of circa 250 words by June 15, 2018. We would like to circulate the papers one month in advance of the conference and envision a 45 min. session per participant, in which she/he will summarize the pre-circulated paper in 10 mins., with 35 mins. of discussion to follow. An application for funding to cover (part of) the travel and lodging expenses is pending, but participants are also encouraged to enquire for funding options at their home institutions. We envision the possibility of publication.

Please send your abstracts to Athanassios Vergados ( and Anke Walter ( by June 15, 2018.


Technepopoiia: between Greek technical poetry and treatises in verse

Call for papers

Although dramatic, lyric, and narrative epic poetry have always been prominent within the main view of what Greek poetry is about, many works do not fit easily within these categories. The poetry of Aratus, the pharmacological poems of Nicander, the elegy of Andromachus, the Oppians’ poems on hunting, fishing and animal wildlife, the geographical poetry of Dionysius of Alexandria: these texts operate on the cusp of art and technicalities, of literature and the preservation and presentation of knowledge. Whereas traditionally they have been labelled didactic poetry, following in the tradition of Hesiod, this didactic frame is only part of what characterises these texts. They challenge traditional ideas about what good poetry should look like, and invite us to think about the distinction between poets venturing into technical subject and specialists expressing themselves in verse. Is poetry merely a convenient vehicle for the preservation of knowledge, or does art serve a more aesthetic purpose? 

This conference, to be held in Soeterbeeck on 12 July 2018 (Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands) aims to approach such technical poetry from different viewpoints: as art and as expression of knowledge.

We are particularly interested in scholars working on medical verse (Nicander, Numenius, Andromachus, Marcellus, Damocrates, Carmen de viribus), geographical poetry (Dionysius Periegetes, ps.-Scymnus), astronomical epic (Aratus, ps.-Manetho), poetry on fishing and hunting (the Oppians), the Lithica, and contiguous poems (didactic or technical epigrams, poetry on math etc.).

Questions that may be relevant:

  • is the label ‘didactic poetry’ suitable for all these diverging poems?
  • was presentation in verse aimed at popularizing (contemporary) science?
  • what is the relation between learning, leisure and pleasure as expressed or suggested by these poems?
  • what sort of contexts can we imagine for the presentation of such technical poetry?
  • what is the relation between e.g. medical poetry and medical prose?
  • what is the relation between formal aspects (framing, metre, generic conventions) and contents?
  • to what extent can one distinguish between between scholars writing poetry and poets presenting technical or scholarly knowledge?

Those interested in presenting a paper of ca. 30 minutes are invited to submit a short abstract (with title) of 250 words before 10 May 2018.

This conference is is made possible by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. Accommodation is covered; full or partial funding of travel costs is negotiable depending on availability of resources. For further information please contact Floris Overduin (

Dr. Floris Overduin

Universitair Docent Oudgrieks

Griekse en Latijnse Taal en Cultuur (GLTC)

Radboud Universiteit – Faculteit der Letteren

Erasmusplein 1, kamer E 5.20

Postbus 9103

NL-6500 HD Nijmegen

+ 31 (0)24 –361 6056