Division of Languages and Literature, Dean of the College, and Classical Studies Program present

Recomposing Romanness: Asceticism and Poetry in Late Antique Gaul

David Ungvary, PhD Candidate, Harvard University

Monday, February 26, 2018

This talk takes as its focus the intersection of Christian asceticism, Latin poetry, and Roman identity at the twilight of the Western empire. Under the influence of asceticism, Gallo-Roman writers experimented with poetry—a traditional literary tool of the Roman nobility—as an instrument of pious practice, spiritual transformation, and Christian identification. The talk investigates how innovations in ascetic poetry leveraged the power of classical literature to promote radically new cultural agendas that shaped the postimperial West. At the center of the investigation are the final poems of Sidonius Apollinaris. After renouncing poetic composition for more than a decade, Sidonius returned to verse writing at the end of his career to contemplate the relationship between poetry and Christian life. Close examinations of texts and context reveal how Sidonius’ authorial practice evolved in his post-imperial environment to meet the demands of conflicting social roles and ideologies—Christian and Roman, secular and spiritual, ascetic and poetic. 

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Olin, Room 102