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Seminar - Forum Antiquum Leiden - Kathryn Morgan

When:Th 14-03-2024 at 15:30
Where:Vrieshof 2 / 004

Kathryn Morgan (UCLA) - Historical Projection and Plato’s Menexenos

This talk investigates Plato’s presentation of the historical imagination in his dialogue Menexenos.  The Menexenos and the funeral oration it contains sit at the intersection of three issues that were of central concern to Plato: the problem of praise, the problem of emotional engagement with poetry and rhetoric, and the problem of popular history.  I suggest that Plato has Socrates frame the historical narrative of the oration to reformulate and make explicit the didactic agenda of the Athenian Funeral Oration and integrate into this treatment a consideration of the role played by the emotions.  Plato here is an innovative theorizer of a certain kind of historical imagination, both highlighting the potential role of rational reconstruction and evaluation of the past and critiquing the tradition of populist historical narrative.  The dialogue sketches a form of analysis that merges historical assessment over the longue durée with an appreciation of the role of historical emotions.

Kathryn Morgan is Joan Palevsky Professor of Classics at UCLA. Her interests range broadly over Greek literature of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Her major research moves are connected with Plato and Pindar. The former is represented by her book Myth and Philosophy from the Presocratics to Plato, and by her ongoing involvement in the series Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative (published by Brill), where she is responsible for the chapters covering Plato. Her major publication on Pindar is Pindar and the Construction of Syracusan Monarchy in the Fifth Century B.C. Ongoing research includes projects on historical narrative in the Persians of Aeschylus, Pindaric politics, and Plato’s transformative appropriation of Athenian comedy and Greek lyric. Her current book project centers on how Plato engaged with the emerging genre of Greek historiography, particularly Thucydides.

Registration is not necessary. If you would like to join us for dinner with the speaker, please let us know until Monday, 11 March by sending an e-mail to c.pieper