Form and Genre of Humanist Greek

Hellenostephanos II symposion


Postponed to an unknown date because of the COVID-19 outbreak

(previously scheduled to be held on April 16-18th 2020, Tartu)


The questions of form and genre have been in the centre of literary theory since the Poetics and Rhetoric of Aristotle, even if we cannot yet see explicit rules regarding lyric poetry in these works. After Horace and Perrotti, the Early Modern poetic theory reached its summit in Scaliger’s Poetics, being already both descriptive and prescriptive, and presenting a foundation for the development of main genres of Neo-Latin poetry, such as described by Ijsewijn.

The research on Humanist Greek poetry and poetics has usually followed in the footsteps of the study of Neo-Latin. After W. Ludwig’s monograph and three recent collective works on Humanist Greek (edited by S. Weise; J. Päll and I. Volt; N. Constantinidou and H. Lamers) the time has arrived to ask, whether there is also a specific, Humanist Greek poetics? Are there any Humanist Greek genres, which don’t occur (or occur less) in Neo-Latin, or are there any genre rules which are specific to humanist Greek only?

We ask our participants to forget for a moment the genre system of Neo-Latin poetry, to neglect for a brief while the basic division of poetry genres by occasions and their social functions, and to think of other formal and generic features instead: what does make a humanist Greek epos, epyllion, oratio metrica, paraphrasis, cento, eidyllion, elegia, parodia, epigram, carmen anagrammaticum, carmen alphabeticum, carmen acrostichicum, technopaignion etc. or Humanist Greek prose genres: letter, hypomnema, speech etc.. What is the role of metre, general structure, language, puns in Humanist Greek poetry? How did the students learn to write this? Can (or should) we speak of this poetry as of poetry outside its social functions?