A Conference on ‘Herodotus and Myth’

September 24-25, 2007

Christ Church, Oxford

The light cast by recent theoretical work invites a renewed vigour in addressing the old and vexed problem of Herodotus’ dual paternity as both ‘Father of Lies’ and ‘Father of History’. How are we to reconcile Herodotus the purveyor of fictional tales and employer of ‘mythic’ paradigms, with the historian of the Persian Wars? Contributors to this conference will follow the leads of recent work that seeks to re-evaluate the literary elements of the first Greek historian that are usually regarded as belonging to the realm of fiction.

Papers will address the broad concept of 'myth' in Herodotus in its two main, and partially overlapping, senses. First, 'myth' as denoting the Greek legendary heritage, cast in patterns that were familiar to Herodotus' audience from other genres such as the Homeric epics. This encompasses his use both of broad (even unconscious) mythic paradigms and of allusions to particular myths or stagings of myth (in tragedy, poetry, and so forth). Secondly, 'myth' as denoting the fabulous or fictional, in the sense in which Herodotus himself uses the term muthos. This might invite consideration of the sorts of truth such muthoi may provide, and other ways in which they may legitimately serve the historian's needs. The aim of the conference is to illuminate further the interaction of 'historical' and 'mythical' material and narrative modes in the Histories, and other related issues, and also to address more broadly the use of fiction in history writing.

Generously sponsored by:

The Christopher Tower Fund
The British Academy
The John Fell OUP Fund
Christ Church
Craven Committee, University of Oxford
Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

Registration and Meals

Numbers strictly limited (to a maximum of 50 participants, including speakers); registration on a first-come, first-served basis by emailing emily.baragwanath AT chch.ox.ac.uk by July 15 (noting which meals you wish to sign up for). There is no registration fee, thanks to our generous sponsors; but if you register and subsequently find you cannot attend, please advise us directly in order that someone else may take your place.

You may register either for individual meals, or (at a discounted price) for all:
Monday lunch: £12
Tuesday lunch: £15
Conference dinner (3 courses plus wine): £23
All Meals: £45

Christ Church can offer bed & breakfast accommodation for those who require it on the Monday night at a cost of £63.45.

Please send a cheque payable to ‘Christ Church’, together with a note indicating which meals you wish to attend and any dietary requirements, by July 15, to Emily Baragwanath, Christ Church, Oxford OX1 1DP, United Kingdom.

Graduate Bursaries

Thanks to the Hellenic Society we can offer 8 bursaries of £50 each for graduate students towards the cost of attending the conference. Please write an email in application to Mathieu de Bakker (m.p.debakker@uva.nl), and ask your supervisor to email a reference in support. Bursaries will be awarded on the basis of need.

Programme Details

Monday 24th September (Lecture Room 2, Tom Quad, Staircase 8)

10:15-10:45 Coffee (Outside Lecture Room 2)

10:45-11:00 Dr. Emily Baragwanath and Dr. Mathieu de Bakker (opening)

First Group Presiding: Prof. Richard Buxton

11:00-11:30 Prof. Suzanne Saïd ‘Herodotus and the Trojan war’

11:30-12:00 Prof. Irene de Jong ‘Herodotus’ story of the Trojan war: from myth to history and back again’

12:00-12:30 Discussion

12:30-13:30 Cold Buffet Lunch (Bayne and Dodgson Rooms, Tom Quad)

13:30-14:00 Prof. Vivienne Gray ‘Herodotus on Melampus’

14:00-14:30 Dr. Mathieu de Bakker ‘Herodotus and Proteus’

14:30-15:00 Discussion

Second Group Presiding: Prof. Robert Fowler

15:00-15:30 Prof. Charles Chiasson ‘Truth, Falsehood, and Fiction in Herodotus’ Cyrus Logos’

15:30-16:00 Prof. Carolyn Dewald ‘Mythic Patterns in Herodotus’ First Book’

16:00-16:30 Discussion

16:30-17:00 Tea (Outside Lecture Room 2)

17:00-17:30 Mr. Alan Griffiths ‘Baubo at Boubastis and Other Stories’

17:30-18:00 Dr. Emily Baragwanath ‘Fiction and Futures Past: mythic allusion in Herodotus’

18:00-18:30 Discussion

18:30-19:30 Drinks in the Senior Common Room Garden

19:30 Conference Dinner in the Freind Room

Tuesday 25th September (Lecture Room 2, Tom Quad, Staircase 8)

8:15-8:45 Breakfast in Hall for those in Christ Church accommodation

Third Group Presiding: Dr. Roger Brock

9:00-9:30 Prof. Rosaria Munson ‘Herodotus and the Heroic Age’

9:30-10:00 Prof. Christopher Pelling ‘Autochthony in Herodotus (and Thucydides)’

10:00-10:30 Discussion

10:30-11:00 Coffee (Bayne Room, Tom Quad)

11:00-11:30 Prof. Rosalind Thomas ‘Herodotus and Persian Myth’

11:30-12:00 Dr. Angus Bowie ‘Myth in the Later Books’

12:00-12:30 Discussion

12:30-14:00 Formal Buffet Lunch (Hall)

14:00-15:00 Plenary Discussion and Closure

For further information please contact the conveners: Emily Baragwanath emily.baragwanath AT christ-church.oxford.ac.uk, Mathieu de Bakker m.p.debakker AT uva.nl