NEW YORK.- By VICKI J.YIANNIAS
Virtually every week, without skipping a beat, opening a Sunday New York Times Arts section, a New Yorker magazine, or cracking open a Time Out New York reveals creative interpretations of classical themes and ancient epics in literature, theater, film and dance. According to Michael Paschalis, Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department of Philology at the University of Crete,19th century literature was not without this strong influence.
Professor Paschalis delivered two lectures on the period on October 25 and October 27, thanks to the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) Visiting Scholars University Seminars Program — now under the direction of Dr. Maria Vouyouka Sereti, Director of Educational Affairs — and in collaboration with Columbia University’s Program in Hellenic Studies Department of Classics. Vangelis Calotychos, the Program’s new Acting Director introduced Professor Paschalis at both presentations.
The title of the first lecture was “The Historical Novel in Greece (1850-1880), Classical Antiquity and Walter Scott” and the second was “Ugo Foscolo, Andreas Kalvos, and the Classics: Constructions of a Birthplace”.
In the first part of “The Historical Novel in Greece” Paschalis gave an overview of the reception of classical antiquity in three novels of the period1850-1880, “The Heroine of the Greek Revolution” by Stephanos Xenos (1861), “Pope Joan” by Emmanuel Roidis (1866), and “Loukas Lazas” by Dimitrios Vikelas (1879). His focus was on thematic links of these novels with the ancient epic. Modern Greek Identity during the Greek Enlightenment and the years preparatory to the Greek War of Independence, he said, had been built with reference to ancient hellenism; the interest in things classical persisted for decades after the liberation.
The second part of the lecture provided a detailed analysis and a re-evaluation of the first historical novel, “The Lord of Morea”, published in 1850 by Alexandros Rangavis. Paschalis focused on the complex relations of this novel with the “Chronicles of Morea”, Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe”, and Horner’s “Odyssey and Iliad”.
In the second lecture “Ugo Foscolo, Andreas Kalvos, and the Classics: Constructions of a Birthplace”, Paschalis showed that although the image of Zante in Kalvos’s (1792-1827) Ode “Philopatris” is commonly thought to be the poet’s personal memories, he believes that this is not a case of nostalgic return to the author’s first experiences of life but a case of poetic memory that recaptures Ugo Foscolo’s image of Zante in order In order to construct the image of Zante, Foscolo, also a native of Zante, had employed the authenticity of Hesiod, Homer, Theocritus, and Virgil.
Paschalis presented the literary strategies of Foscolo and Kalvos that consisted of appropriating features of the Hesiodic Cythera and Homeric Ithaca. He also analyzed the rich intertextual background of a spelling error in Kalvos (kntron instead of kitron) that invites the reader to re-examine the orthography of the Odes as an issue of poetics and not merely of language.
These two lectures were among the lecture group that Professor Paschalis has delivered since the beginning of his tour, which began on October 3, In the framework of the University Seminars Visiting Professors Program of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA). The tour ends on October 31, with October 27 lecture being the last lecture.
Professor Michael Paschalis visited the University of Arizona, Harvard University, Brown University, Boston College, Princeton, and Columbia, presenting the following lectures, “Names, Semantics and Narrative in Kornaros’ ‘Erotokritos’”, “From Homer to the Enlightenment: Metaphors of Light in Korais’ ‘O Papatrechas’”, “Dionysios Solomos’ ‘The Destruction of Jerusalem’”, Virgil’s “Troy”, “George Seferis’ novel ‘Six Nights on the Acropolis’”, Apuleius’ “Metamorphoses”, Kazantzakis’ “The Life and Deeds of Alexis Zorbas”, and Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.
Professor Paschalis is the author of “Virgil’s Aeneid: Semantic Relations and Proper Names” (Oxford 1997). He edited “Horace and Greek Lyric Poetry” (Rethymnon Classical Studies, vol. 1, Rethymnon 2002) and co-edited “Space in the Ancient Novel” (Groningen 2002). He has published articles on Hellenistic and Roman Poetry (Epic, Bucolic, Lyric, and Didactic), Senecan Drama, Ancient Historiography, the Ancient Novel, Reception of the Classics, and Modern Greek Literature.
In the area of the Reception of the Classics and Modern Greek Literature Professor Paschalis has worked on Kornaros’ “Erotokritos”, Giovanni Boccaccio, Adamantios Korais, Dionysios Solomos, the Modern Greek Novel and the Classical Tradition, Cavafy, and Seferis. He is currently doing research on Kornaros, Chortatzis, Seferis, and Alexandros Rangavis.