Event Start Date: 12 November 2021

Event End Date: 13 November 2021

Somerville College has established a new association with the Maison Française d’Oxford to support academic collaboration and exchange between French scholars and students of the ancient world and our college community. 

We welcome this term as Academic Visitor to the College the new Ancient World appointment at the MfO, Professor Stéphane Benoist of the University of Lille. Together with our Fellow in Ancient History, Beate Dignas, Professor Benoist is hosting a conference ‘Traces, Memory and Identity in Antiquity’, which be held at both Somerville and the MfO on 12-13th November.

Traces, Memory and Identity in Antiquity

Friday 12 November, 2.00-6.00pm, Somerville College
Saturday 13 November, 9.00am-1.00pm, Maison Française d’Oxford

Convened by Stéphane Benoist (Lille/MFO) and Beate Dignas (Somerville College)

In recent decades, academic research in all ancient disciplines has furthered our understanding of ancient Mediterranean cities by using concepts of ‘memory’ and ‘identity’. In turn, these concepts, expressed in categories such as ‘collective and social memory’, ‘rhetoric’ and ‘performative rituals’, have been analysed fruitfully by the range of perspectives and evidence offered by the ancient world. Sociological, anthropological and historical research into these concepts benefits precisely from a conscious and integrated use of literary, epigraphic, numismatic and iconographic material. The six papers of this seminar are varied in terms of temporal and geographical focus, media and subject matter, but they all sharply focus on the polysemic notion of ‘traces’ (Fr.), ‘tracks’ (Engl.), ‘Spuren’ (Germ.) to introduce a new spin to the field of ancient memory studies.




Friday afternoon: Somerville College (Park 5, 2-6 pm)

2-2.15: Welcome: Beate Dignas (Somerville College)

Chair: Charlotte Potts (Somerville College)

2.15-3.15: Stéphane Benoist (ULille, HALMA, MfO, Somerville College), “Towards an Ancient History from the perspective of traces”

3.15-4-15: Rosalind Thomas (Balliol College), “Traces, ‘memory’ and the cultural patterning of tradition: the case of Lydia”

4.15-4.45: Coffee break

4.45-5.45: Beate Dignas (Somerville College), “The past in the present – tracing identity in epigraphic dossiers”


Saturday morning: Maison française d’Oxford (auditorium, 9am-1pm)

9-9.15: Welcome: Pascal Marty (MfO director) & Stéphane Benoist (ULille, HALMA, MfO, Somerville College)

Chair: Luke Pitcher (Somerville College)

9.15-10.15: Luca Castagnoli (Oriel College), “Traces, Memory and Identity in Hellenistic Philosophy”

10.15-11.15: Catherine Baroin (Rouen, ERIAC), “Traces, memory and amicitia in Cicero and Pliny’s letters”

11.15-11.45: Coffee break

11.45-12.45: Bryan Ward Perkins (Trinity College), “Monumentalising memory: the example of the Last Statues of Antiquity”

12.45-1pm: Concluding remarks

Pic: Apotheosis of Homer Relief, signed by Archelaos of Priene, 300-100 BCE, Alexandria (?)

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