From the Ancient Narrative folks come a couple items of potential interest (although I find the AN site itself to be one of the most annoying things to try to figure out what's new and what isn't) ... first, the February 2005 issue of the Petronian Society Newsletter has been put up. Since there is no real way of divining this from the newsletter homepage (howzabout a table of contents???) I'll alert folks to an article by Barry Baldwin, "Happy Horace" and a summary of Steve Smith's dissertation, Discourses of Identity and Freedom: Representations of Athens in Chariton on the Articles and Reviews page. The Bibliography page is useful, as always. [I might note in passing that the Notices page consists of a pile of conferences which you have already missed ... still useful from a who's-working-on-what point of view, but surely the Ancient Narrative site itself should be advertising such talks *before* they come up?].

The AN folks have also sent out an alert which begins "Stefan Tilg, Bern University, invites you to take part in an discussion on Implicit Poetics in the Ancient Novel." The page to which you're directed says:

Many books on the ancient novel begin with a lament for the lack of ancient theories about their subject. Although the wish to have such a theory belongs more to our times, in which the novel has become the leading literary form, than to antiquity, one could argue that ancient thoughts about the novel would help our understanding of the genre. But where are these thoughts to be found? I think it could be promising to search for answers in the novels themselves. Over the past decades, critics have become more and more aware of various phenomena of self-consciousness in the ancient novels, yet nobody has embarked on examining systematically the poetological aspects implied. Up to now no comprehensive study of poetological statements in the novels has emerged. The closest - though very limited - attempt to uncover an ancient theory of the novels in the novels is to my knowledge still an article by C.W. Müller, 'Chariton von Aphrodisias und die Theorie des Romans in der Antike', A&A 22 (1976), 115-36. Besides, many good hints are scattered throughout individual studies. The lack of a systematic investigation, however, remains. My 'Habilitationsschrift' - which is at present work in progress at a rather early stage - will be an attempt to fill this gap with a collection and interpretation of the most significant poetological statements, both overt and veiled, in the ancient novels. I will ask questions like: What was the stance of the authors towards their creations? Do they convey a message about why and how novels were supposed to be written? How did they think about the status of the novel compared to other genres? As a result of my inquiry one should not expect a fully developed generic theory (the 'true poetics' of ancient novel), but rather a framework of insights. My basic assumption is that wherever the author/narrator relates self-consciously to his narration, we may be dealing with a poetological statement. This can be the case, for example, in instances of intertextuality, of mise en abyme (narrations and other stories within the narration), of role-consciousness on the part of acting persons, of auctorial commentaries, etc. Of course not every such instance is equally pertinent, and I shall have to make a careful selection. My study will be based on the fully extant Greek and Latin novels plus the fragments as far as they are published up to the present day. The so called 'fringe' of the genre will also receive consideration. Given the great diversity of texts, I do not expect to extract a single theory valid for all ancient novels. I will have to deal with fragments of particular poetological standpoints which show affinities and differences between each other. These various poetological attitudes, however, considered as the spectrum of ancient novel-writing, ought to lead on to a set of general conclusions. Although this are merely rough outlines of my study and many problems prove challenging only in detail, maybe general comments or objections will arise. So, I would be pleased to receive any notes or critique, and to discuss matters further.

Mr. Tilg's email address is at the site, but I can't help but notice that, as conceived, this really isn't a discussion. Why not make it a discussion? Open up a forum and invite AN subscribers to take part? Start a yahoo group or something. Come on guys and gals ... this is 2005. Let's start using this technology to its full extent! (and hopefully the AN folks can impose some 'order' on their webpage ... it really is somewhat cryptic for 'outsiders').