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Ancient World Seminar: Michiel van der Keur (Groningen) – “Livy’s Thermopilae. Greek echoes in the Cannae narrative”

Wanneer:ma 18-09-2017 16:15 - 17:30
Waar:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), room 253
Livy’s Thermopilae: Greek echoes in the Cannae narrative
Livy’s Thermopilae: Greek echoes in the Cannae narrative

Great historical battles appeal to the imagination. A well-known encounter like the Battle of Thermopylae is referenced time and again, for instance through the modern film adaptation “300”. Similarly in literature and rhetoric, heroic events from the past are frequently used to colour our understanding of the present. Such reception of earlier military engagements can already be found in antiquity. This lecture will discuss the ways in which the Roman historian Livy uses the Battle of Thermopylae as a mental backdrop in his account of yet another famous battle – Cannae. The result is not a Roman “300”; yet a few well-placed nods at the Greek historiographical tradition on Thermopylae grant us much insight in the role of the battle account of Cannae in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita.

Michiel van der Keur teaches Latin at Leiden University as guest lecturer, and will be a university lecturer at the University of Groningen next semester. He obtained his PhD in 2015 at VU University Amsterdam with a commentary on Silius Italicus’ Punica 13, with a focus on intertextuality and narrative structure. His research interests include literary techniques, genre crossings and reception steering. He has written a number of articles on Silius Italicus, Vergil and Livy.