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Involving the audience. Textual strategies in Livy’s account of the battle of Cannae

  • Prof.dr. Caroline Kroon
  • Dr. Lidewij van Gils
Thursday 28 September 2017
Forum Antiquum
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Vossius Hall (University Library, second floor)

The lecture will be about the use of time and narrative strategies in Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, book 22. The lecture starts at 16:00 in the Vossius Hall. Afterwards, we will have drinks at Barrera. Students and staff are welcome to attend both the lecture and the drinks.

Note: the lecture will be in English.


Ancient historiographical texts generally display what has been known, since Hayden White’s seminal studies on modern historiography, as emplotment: the assembly of a series of events into a narrative with a plot. In our talk we will be concerned with textual choices and textual strategies which Livy employs in the narrative of Ab Urbe Condita book 22, particularly in his account of the battle of Cannae. By applying an analytical tool which combines insights from discourse linguistics, cognitive linguistics and narratology, we will try to demonstrate the dominant textual strategies and techniques that Livy employs to involve the audience in his particular version of the events.

About the speakers

Caroline Kroon is professor of Latin at the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology and currently also director of the College of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. She studied Classics and General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam, where she received her doctor’s degree in 1995. In 1993 she was appointed assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she obtained a full professorship in 1999. In 2013 she was appointed full professor at the University of Amsterdam. Kroon’s research concerns Classical Latin literature and is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach crossing the border between linguistics and literary studies. A recurring theme in her research is the application of insights from discourse linguistics and pragmatics to the literary analysis of Latin texts. Currently she is one of the six main coordinators of the GRAVITATION program Anchoring Innovation funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2017-2027). Within this program she is heading the projects on Discourse and Rhetoric.

Lidewij van Gils is assistant professor of Latin at the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology. She studied at the Vrije Universiteit, where she obtained her PhD in 2009 with a dissertation on the narrationes in Cicero’s forensic speeches.

Van Gils’ focus is on communicative aspects of the classical Latin prose and her investigations concern, for instance, the use of negation, adversative particles, tenses and other signs of interaction or intersubjectivity in Cicero, Livy and Tacitus. The linguistic analyses of such phenomena need to be related to the communicative situation of speakers, addressees and other persons involved and she makes use of the cognitive-linguistic concept of common ground and sociolinguistic models of (im)politeness to address such contextual issues. A last important factor in most of her research is the distinction between narrative and nonnarrative modes of presenting and more specifically the persuasive and pervasive potential of embedded stories. The combined narratological and discourse-pragmatic approach adopted to investigate this field of research, has recently led to a volume on textual strategies in Greek and Latin war narrative (edited by Van Gils, De Jong & Kroon).

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