Nonnus of Panopolis in Context IV: poetry at the crossroads

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What Congres
When 19-04-2018 09:00 till
21-04-2018 15:00
Where KANTL (Koningstraat 18, 9000 Gent)
Organized by Berenice Verhelst

​Confirmed keynote speakers: Domenico Accorinti, Gianfranco Agosti, Hélène Frangoulis, Gennaro D’Ippolito, Tim Whitmarsh

‘Nonnus in Context’

Once understudied, the fascinating poetry of Nonnus of Panopolis (5th c AD and author of both the last grand epic poem of antiquity and of a hexametric paraphrase of the Gospel of John in the same ‘baroque’ style) has, in the past decades, aroused the interest of many. One of the results of this (re)new(ed) interest in the poetry of the ‘Egyptian Homer’ is the recently appeared Brill’s Companion to Nonnus (2016) – voluminous like Nonnus’ work itself. In the preface, the editor, Domenico Accorinti, adequately describes the ongoing process of Nonnus’ “becoming a classic” and how the current vitality of the scholarly dialogue on Nonnus contributes to that.

One of the signs of this vitality are the ‘Nonnus in Context’ conferences, a series of scientific gatherings initiated by Konstantinus Spanoudakis, who organized the first one in May 2011 (proceedings: ed. Spanoudakis 2014) and after him continued by Herbert Bannert and Nicole Kröll (Vienna 2013) and Filip Doroszewski (Warsaw 2015). Ghent 2018 is the fourth event in what by now is an established series.

Nonnus of Panopolis in Context IV: Poetry at the Crossroads.

 The subtitle for this fourth edition refers to the - indeed multifaceted – metaphor of the ‘crossroads’. From a crossroads you can look forwards, backwards but also sideways. Likewise, when standing at a crossroads, you are visible from all sides. Crossroads, therefore, open many perspectives. This central metaphor is chosen in the first place as an invitation to (further) explore these perspectives along the horizontal and vertical axes of the literary tradition and late antique society. It aims to direct the focus not exclusively on Nonnus, but indeed to highlight the context (not restricted to a specific time-frame, language, genre or art form) in which to interpret his poetry, while also welcoming contributions in which Nonnus’ poetry is only a significant part of the context.

Simultaneously it is also an invitation to reflect on the ways we as modern scholars give shape to the field we are studying. Nonnus is considered a pivotal author, between tradition and innovation, between classical paideia and Christian poetics. The vitality of Nonnus studies in the past decade(s) has not changed Nonnus’ poetry, but has thoroughly influenced the way it is perceived today. If Nonnus is our poet at the crossroads, should we not also keep in mind that we had a hand in constructing the roads?

 This conference invites contributions that approach Nonnus’ poetry in/and/or its context from any direction or distance.  Suggestions for future road works, new road signs and (other) reflections on the development of our field are most welcome!