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The Altercatio Ganymedis et Helene – It All Comes Together in the End (?)
January 23, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
Classics and Medieval Studies, University of Binghamton, State University of New York
Have you always wondered what a discussion about the pros and cons of same-sex versus opposite-sex sex might have looked like in 12th-century France? In today’s talk I focus on just such a discussion which survives in the form of a debate-poem in Latin. Helen (of Troy) and Ganymede (water-bearer to the gods) are having it out, with Helen carrying away the prize. Why and how does she win? I’ll spend some time laying out the cultural and historical background, before delving into a close reading of a couple of stanzas from the end of the poem. I will argue that these stanzas contain some key concepts of/for the debate (both in the poem and the 12th-century context) and will suggest an interpretation that may or may not be as radical as it first appears.
Tina Chronopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Binghamton, State University of New York, where she teaches a range of courses in Latin language and literature, as well as in Classical civilization and medieval studies. She is a Medieval Latinist, with particular interests in twelfth-century Latin literature written in the Anglo-French cultural realm and the manuscripts in which these texts survive. Her past research has focused on the reception of Classical Latin literature in the medieval period and the medieval Latin legend of St Katherine of Alexandria.