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Department of Classics and Ancient History

Tombs of the Ancient Poets

Joseph Wright of Derby: Virgil's Tomb with the Figure of Silus Italicus, 1779

Tombs of the Ancient Poets: Between Text and Material Culture

An international conference to be held at Durham University, 12th - 14th September 2014

This conference takes inspiration from a recent movement in criticism that investigates ancient representations of the poets — and their biographies in particular — as creative modes of engagement with ancient literature. No longer simply attempting to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of biographical ‘fact’, Lives are now recognised as a mode of reception. This conference seeks to demonstrate that the encounter between poems and their audiences is manifested not only in texts but also in material culture.
Tombs are ‘sites’ (in Pierre Nora’s sense of lieux) wherein a number of responses to literature are crystallized, and which in turn shape later receptions. From the psychogeography of ancient communities to the role of dead poets and their images in the machinations of political culture, from the physical cultivation of tombs mirroring the dynamics of poetic succession to the imaginary inscriptions of funerary epigram, the tomb is a complex site of engagement — a ‘reading’ in the broadest sense of the word — where cultural history and political authority merge with literary history.
Bringing together an international team of scholars, the overall aim is to contribute to the growing debate on representations of poets as evidence for the reception of their works, making the case for place and materiality in the history of ancient literature.

The conference is generously funded by the European Research Council, and contributes to "Living Poets: A New Approach to Ancient Poetry" (


Friday 12th September 2014

14:15: Registration
14:45-15:00: Introduction

15:00-15:45 Ahuvia Kahane and Andrew Laird, ‘Dead Letters and Buried Meaning: The Tombs of Virgil and Homer’
15:45-16:30: Flore Kimmel-Clauzet, ‘Poets’ Tombs and Conceptions of Poetry in Ancient Greece’

16:30-17:00: Coffee break

17:00-17:45: Emmanuela Bakola, ‘Aeschylus, Earth and Tomb-cult: A Posthumous Re-appraisal’
17:45-18:30: Natasha Bershadsky, ‘Visiting Hesiod's Tomb with Euphorion of Chalcis’

19:30: Dinner for speakers

Saturday 13th September 2014

09:30-10:15: Richard Rawles, ‘Simonides on Tombs, and the Tomb of Simonides’
10:15-11:00: Silvia Montiglio, ‘Impermanent Stones, Permanent Plants: Tombs of Poets as Material Objects in the Palatine Anthology’

11:00-11:15: Coffee break

11:15-12:00: Regina Höschele, ‘Weaving Tombs into a Garland: Epitaphs of Poets in Philip's Stephanos’
12:00 -12:45: Peter Bing, ‘Tombs of the Poets' Minor Characters’

12:45-14:00: Lunch

14:00-14:45: Valentina Garulli, ‘A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man: The Tomb of Quintus Sulpicius Maximus on the Via Salaria’
14:45-15:30: Gianfranco Agosti, ‘Paideias eneken: Funerary Inscription of Poets in Late Antiquity’

15:30-16:15: Coffee break

16:15-17:00: Annalisa Cipollone, ‘Tombs of Poets in Pre-humanistic Italy’
17:00-17:45: Paola Bassino and Peter Fane-Saunders, ‘Ad ipsa Homerica loca: The Journey of Ciriaco d’Ancona to the Tomb of the Epic Poet’

19:30: Dinner for speakers

Sunday 14th September 2014

9:30-10:15: Giovanni Salmeri and Antonio Tempio, ‘Stesichoros’ Tomb’
10:15-11:00: Harald Hendrix, ‘Virgil's Tomb in Scholarly and Popular Culture’
11:00-11:45: Sam Smiles, ‘Ruins and Reputations: The Tomb of the Poet in Visual Art’

Closing remarks

Organisers: Nora Goldschmidt, Barbara Graziosi, and Erika Taretto

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open. The registration fee is £35 for three days or £15 per day. For concessions, the fee is £25 for three days, £10 per day. Deadline for registration is August 22nd. For registration or information, please contact Erika Taretto (