Greek Literature: Autobiography and self-writing (undergraduate and PhD students)

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The course is designed for undergraduate students. It is open to PhD students. A good knowledge of the ancient Greek language is required


The course analyses some central problems and texts related to the themes of autobiography and self-writing in ancient Greek literature, with special reference to the works of Marcus Aurelius and Aelius Aristides. It also analyses the ancient and modern critical debate on autobiography and self-writing. The course will address the following main topics: linguistic, philological, philosophical, literary, and interpretation of the text examined, also in connection with the history of ancient religions.

The introductory teaching (“didattica integrativa”) explains key philological, linguistic and literary concepts which are essential for taking the course and preparing the seminar presentation.

The introductory course will start in October 2023; the module on autobiography will start in November 2023.

The students must give a seminar report addressing a topic related to the themes of the course. The topic of the seminar report must be agreed with the lecturer, at least a month in advance of the set date. The indicative duration of the oral report is 45 minutes. Each student must prepare a written text (indicatively: 4-10 pages) that includes the main citations from ancient sources (with translations) and from the modern critical bibliography related to the chosen interpretative problem. The written text must also include the bibliography consulted. A draft of the written text must be sent by email to the lecturer at least one week before the seminar; the final form must be sent on the day of the seminar.

Obiettivi formativi

Acquisition of detailed knowledge of texts and interpretations relating to the topics of autobiography and self-writing in ancient Greek literature, with special reference to the texts of Marcus Aurelius and Aelius Aristides.

Acquisition of the knowledge of the main interpretative approaches to autobiography and self-writing in ancient Greek texts, with special reference to ancient and the current debate.

Acquisition of the ability to identify research questions relating to the literary, philosophical, and linguistic interpretation of the text of Marcus Aurelius and Aelius Aristides, and of other autobiographical texts written in ancient Greek.

Acquisition of appropriate literary and philological interpretative methodologies to address these research questions.

Acquisition of the ability to devise and organise arguments to address such interpretative problems, in view of possible advancements on the state of the art.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Amat, J. (1996) Passion de Perpétue et de Félicité: suivi des Actes, Paris.

Bachtin, M. (1979) Estetica e romanzo, ed. C. Strada Janovic, Torino.

Behr, C. A. (1968) Aelius Aristides and the Sacred tales, Amsterdam.

Bremmer, J. N., Formisano, M. (2012) Perpetua's passions : multidisciplinary approaches to the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis, Oxford.

Farquharson, A. S. L. (1944) The meditations of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, 2 vols., Oxford.

Foucault, M. (2011) Il coraggio della verità: il governo di sé e degli altri II: corso al Collège de France (1984), a cura di F. Gros, A. Fontana, F. Ewald, M. Galzigna, Milano.

Foucault, M. (2014) Del governo dei viventi: corso al Collège de France (1979-1980), a cura di P. A. Rovatti, A. Fontana, M. Senellart, F. Ewald, D. Borca, Milano.

Foucault, M. (2017) Soggettività e verità: corso al Collège de France (1980-1981), a cura di P. A. Rovatti, A. Fontana, F. Ewald, F. Gros, D. Borca, C. Troilo, Milano.

Foucault, M., Self writing.

Hadot, P. (1988) Esercizi spirituali e filosofia antica, ed. A. M. Marietti, Torino.

Hadot, P. (1996) La cittadella interiore: introduzione ai pensieri di Marco Aurelio, a cura di G. Reale, A. Bori, M. Natali, Milano.

Israelowich, I. (2012) Society, medicine and religion in the Sacred tales of Aelius Aristides, Leiden.

Keil, B. (1898) Aelii Aristidis Smyrnaei quae supersunt omnia. vol.2, orationes XVII-LIII continens, Berolini.

Lenz, F. W., Behr, C. A. (1976) Aelii Aristidis Opera quae exstant omnia, Volumen primum. Fasciculus primus, Lugduni Batavorum.

Misch, G. (1950) A history of autobiography in antiquity, trans. E. W. Dickes, 2 vols., London.

Nicosia, S. (1984) Elio Aristide: Discorsi sacri, Milano.

Petridou, G. (2016) Divine epiphany in Greek literature and culture, First edition. edn., Oxford.

Petsalis-Diomidis, A. (2010) Truly beyond wonders : Aelius Aristides and the cult of Asklepios Oxford.

Rutherford, R. B. (1989) The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: a study, Oxford.

Schwalm, H. (2014), 'Autobiography', in P. Hühn, et al. (ed.), The living handbook of narratology (Hamburg: Hamburg University).

Tagliabue, A. (2016a) 'Aelius Aristides' sacred tales: a study of the creation of the “Narrative about Asclepius”’, Classical Antiquity 35, 126-46.

Tagliabue, A. (2016b) 'An embodied reading of epiphanies in Aelius Aristides' Sacred Tales’, Ramus 45, 213-30.