An Epic Afternoon: 12 October 2017

The epic is a form that seems easy to define by its metrical form and heroic content, based on the classical works by Homer and Vergil and persistant throughout the Graeco-Roman tradition. A closer look reveals that the hexameter form could be filled with various contents, just as heroic tales could be told in both prose and other kinds of verse. Ancient epics were throughout the centuries used for not only aesthetic but also educational purposes, and they still offer occasions for adaptations and rewritings such as Margaret Atwood’s playful Penelopiad (2005) or Alice Oswald’s more solemn Memorial (2011). This ‘epic afternoon’ is intended to bring scholars engaging with these different aspects of the epic together and explore potentials for interdisciplinary collaboration.

As a point of departure for the joint discussion, participants are kindly asked to read chapters 1-2 and 7 in The Nature of Narrative (1966) – the foundational book by Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg, provided with a new chapter by James Phelan in the 2006 edition. As a preparation for the opening lecture by Irene de Jong, they should also read the chapter on focalization in her Narratology and the Classics (2014).

The day will open with a morning lecture by Irene de Jong entitled ‘Aeneas relives the fall of Troy: Virgil’s handling of (temporal) focalisation in Aeneid 2’. After discussion and lunch, we will move on to short presentations by seven other scholars: Christine Amadou (Oslo), Uffe Holmsgard Eriksen (Uppsala), Mats Malm (Göteborg), Vibeke Roggen (Oslo), Mathilde Skoie (Oslo) and Gjert Vestrheim (Bergen). This session will be introduced and moderated by Ingela Nilsson (Uppsala/Oslo). By tracing the epic from antiquity into modern days, we hope to engage in discussions of the flexible and inclusive character of epics.

Students and colleagues who are interested in the epic tradition or in diachronical perspectives of narrative are most welcome to join us!


  • 10.15 Irene de Jong (Amsterdam), ‘Aeneas relives the fall of Troy: Virgil’s handling of (temporal) focalisation in Aeneid 2’
  • 12.00 Lunch for speakers
  • 13.00 Ingela Nilsson (Uppsala/Oslo), Introduction
  • 13.15 Mathilde Skoie (Oslo), ‘Story and genre: from epic to pastoral and back’
  • 13.45 Uffe Holmsgard Eriksen (Uppsala), ‘Joseph and the Amazing Purple Coloured Imperial Robe – epic hymnography by Romanos the Melodist’
  • 14.15 Mats Malm (Göteborg), ‘The Alexander Epic in Medieval Scandinavian Adaptation’
  • 14.45 Discussion
  • 15.15 Coffee
  • 16.00 Vibeke Roggen (Oslo), ‘Towards a literary analysis of Petrarch’s Africa’
  • 16.30 Gjert Vestrheim (Bergen), ‘Classical German Epic - Goethe’s Hermann and Dorothea and Hölderlin’s Archipelagus’
  • 17.00 Christine Amadou (Oslo), ‘Why Homer?’
  • 17.30 Concluding discussion
  • 20.00 Dinner for speakers


Classical Seminar
Published Sep. 5, 2017 12:50 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2017 2:55 PM