CFP Reviving the Dead: Classical Imitation in Renaissance Literature

Grierson Institute Workshop, Spring 2015

The imitation of classical literature in the Renaissance is an area which has attracted increasing attention in recent years, from classicists and early modernists alike. This workshop is designed as a forum for further contributions in the field, asking not only how such study can enrich our understanding of Renaissance literature, but also whether and how our understanding of the classical literature itself might benefit from attention to Renaissance readings and reworkings. The title is intended merely as a suggestion of ways in which you might want to approach the theme, for instance:

  • depictions of the Underworld in epic, which from the Odyssey, through the Aeneid, to Dante’s Inferno and Spenser’s The Faerie Queene have always figured as a space in which to echo and transform the voices of poetic predecessors;
  • elegies for dead poets, which might imitate the work of their subject in order to immortalize them, or else to overgo them;
  • tropes of imitation as metempsychosis (as when Francis Meres writes that ‘the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare’),
  • or as a conversation or even party with the dead (as when Herrick promises to ‘rouse Anacreon from the dead, / And return him drunk to bed’);
  • the resurrection of classical poets or characters from their poetry on the stage, as when Marlowe’s Faustus makes Homer sing to him, or Jonson brings Horace and Ovid back to life in the Poetaster.

But you may come up with your own approach to the topic, of course.

Please contact Dr. Syrithe Pugh at if you are interested in taking part.


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