The epigram is a piece of generally brief poetry we meet in all periods of Antiquity, in the Roman world as in the Greek one. Intended to praise or to commemorate, to celebrate victory, death or love, it can possess an ironic, satiric or erotic tone; it can also contain an enigma or a witticism.
The epigram is therefore complex. Born to be engraved on stone, widely used to compose epitaphs on private and public monuments, it was first appreciated by cultured people, then it drifted little by little into papyri and manuscripts. After a long trip in time and space, passing from stone to book, it finally settled in the crossroads of epigraphy, literature and history.
The choice of such a subject for the Symposium which we organize in June, 2010, was dictated by our own research themes. Eleonora Santin, PhD in Ancient History at the University of Rome "La Sapienza", dedicated her thesis to the study of the epigrams of Thessaly as well as of the signed metric inscriptions. Laurence Foschia analyses Greek religion in the early Christian period; to prepare her thesis, defended at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, she used all the written sources that allow us to understand the christianization of Greece (4th-7th century): epigrams are one of the most important of these sources.
Evolving in different fields of expertise, we cannot be more complementary to set up such a manifestation.
We opted for a theme, the epigram under all its forms: between epigraphy, literature and history, voluntarily vast. We wanted, indeed, to privilege variety and originality in our Symposium: chronologically, linguistically and geographically. So we have accepted papers centered on the Roman world as well as on the Greek world, on the Archaic period as well as on the Hellenistic and Byzantine one. This variety will certainly constitute one of the main aspects of the manifestation, the other one is its international character.
While leaving to the various scholars complete freedom in the choice of their subjects, we have recommended to some of them to focus on issues whose importance is not to be any more demonstrated. Here are two themes to which a full session will be dedicated:
1. Professional, civic and religious offices/functions in epigraphical poetry: the aim is to deal with epigram in its social dimension, as a text inscribed for being displayed in a public contest, as well as a poetic genre conceived to honor, praise and commemorate individuals who are in charge of a definite function within the city or within a larger social group. We will consider epigrams as a sort of "life concentrated juice" extracted and published through specific formulae and lexicon to captivate audience for a long time.
2. Poets and authors, epigrammata de poetis and authors of epigrams: the goal will be the poet, his character and function in the long history of epigrammatic literary and lapidary poetry. Therefore participants may focus on the poet both as recipient of the composition and as author. It would be in particular interesting to discuss instances where poet and author are overlapping.