The Fidelity of Fides: Authenticity in the Classical World

  • The Lillian Massey Building, home of the Department of Classics

October 13-14, 2017
University of Toronto, Department of Classics

Graduate Student Conference

Keynote Speakers:
James Porter (University of California, Berkeley)
Erik Gunderson (University of Toronto)

ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα,
ἴδμεν δ’, εὖτ’ ἐθέλωμεν, ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι.
(Hes. Theog. 27-28)

Qualis artifex pereo!
(Suet. Ner. 49.1)

The question of authenticity – that is, fidelity to the truth, in whatever form it takes – remained at the forefront of Greek and Roman minds. Ancient authors since the time of Homer lingered over the question of whether something or someone accurately reflected what was “true,” and we see the ripples of this problem in the minds of ancient historiographers, orators, playwrights, poets, and even in surviving inscriptions and papyri. Notions of truth defined individual and collective identities, served political ends, and shaped philosophical outlooks in the Graeco-Roman world. Likewise, questions of authenticity remain rooted in our minds today as we examine the material and literary culture of the past: are the artifacts we have accurate representations of the classical world? Do the texts present the world as it was, or in an idealized fashion? Can there be any accurate representation, in words or material, of the truth? To what extent was truth even important at all in the ancient world? Our conference aims to investigate the ways in which ancient peoples grappled with the issues of authenticity, and how we too today deal with the issue of “truth” and “authenticity” when dealing with the fragmented written and material evidence which survives from the ancient world.

Call For Papers!

The Graduate Students of the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto are seeking papers that will examine questions of authenticity in all subdivisions of Classics and related disciplines, including (but not limited to) philology, history, art history, archaeology, women and gender studies, science and medicine, philosophy, and reception studies.
Potential areas of investigation could include, but are not limited to:

  • The purpose and consequence of forged objects and sites, such as counterfeit currency or the Casa Romuli
  • Conceptions of “authentic” civic identity as defined against the intrusion of homines novi and metics into the
    Roman and Athenian states
  • Autobiographical and civic representation in epigraphy
  • Pseudepigraphic writings and (potentially) misattributed poems, such as the works of Pseudo-Plutarch, the
    Catalepton of Virgil, and the Halieutica of Ovid
  • Textual criticism and its impact on the authenticity of an original text
  • The received arrangement of a text (e.g. the poetic libellus) as representative of the text’s original conception
  • The conceits and authenticity of the presented world in poetry, historiography, and other literary modes
  • Sincerity of the poetic voice and persona
  • Mimesis as representation of the world
  • Ancient and modern theories of translation, and “corruption” in adaptation, such as the interpretatio Romana,
    the translations of Callimachus by Catullus, and Roman appropriations of Greek terms
  • Ancient conceptions of the self, and the deceit of self-representation
  • Philosophical attempts at capturing “the true”

Download PDF: 2017 Call for Papers Fidelity of Fides

Abstract Submission Guidelines

  • open to MA students, PhD students, and recent recipients of graduate degrees
  • abstracts of no more than 300 words, for papers of 15-20 minutes in length
  • abstracts/papers written in either English or French are welcome
  • email abstracts (.doc/.docx/.pdf) to by May 31, 2017
  • include your name and institution in the submission email, but leave the abstract anonymous
  • accepted participants will be notified by email before the end of July 2017

2017 Graduate Student Conference Committee

  • Adam Barker
  • Drew Davis
  • Chiara Graf
  • Jesse Hill
  • Emelen Leonard