Conference: Poetic Philosophers and Philosophical Poets (Oct. 7-8)

(part of a series)

Location: Notre Dame Conference Center, McKenna Hall

Poetic Philo Flier Fv

Poetic Philosophers and Philosophical Poets: The Relationship between Philosophy and Poetry in the Ancient World is a graduate student conference sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Department of Classics, the Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, and the Program in Liberal Studies on Friday and Saturday, October 7-8, 2016.

From the Pre-Socratic philosophers to the late antique Boethius, the ancient writers of the Mediterranean understood philosophy and poetry to be intricately connected. That is, poetry could be not only an aesthetically pleasing artistic medium to convey the tenets of one’s school, but also a device through which philosophical arguments could be constructed and supported in ways unavailable in prose. Our purpose in this conference is to examine both how and why philosophers employed poetry in their writings. Topics include, but are not restricted to:

  • How the use of poetry as a literary medium affects philosophical systems
  • Whether or not epic poets and philosophers share a common telos in their endeavors
  • Investigation of poetic texts that address philosophical themes, but are not generally regarded as philosophical
  • Use and abuse of archaic poetry by Classical and Hellenistic philosophers
  • Ancient doctrines of poetics and their implementation
  • How in-depth scholarly investigation of these texts through the lens of both philosophy and philology can improve our understanding of the author’s intentions


Download the full schedule PDF
Contact conference organizer for more information.

DAY 1 - Friday, October 7 

All sessions will take place in McKenna Hall 100-104

9:45 - KEYNOTE ADDRESS - "What Makes Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura a poem?"

Elizabeth Asmis
Professor of Classics
University of Chicago

11:00 - PANEL 1

13:00 - LUNCH

14:30 - KEYNOTE ADDRESS - "Plato’s Leaky Myths"

David O'Connor
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Concurrent Associate Professor of Classics
University of Notre Dame

15:45 - PANEL 2

DAY 2 - Saturday, October 8

9:30 - KEYNOTE ADDRESS - "Poets as Philosophers in the oldest European manuscript: Orpheus, Heraclitus, and Parmenides in the Derveni papyrus"

Richard Janko
Gerald F. Else Distinguished University Professor of Classical Studies
University of Michigan

10:45 - PANEL 3