Sophia Papaioannou

Visiting Fellow, Spring 2019

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Research Project
Nonnus/ Latinity: Revisiting the Issue of Latin Influence on Greek Epic and High Culture in the Late Antiquity

Sophia Papaioannou is Professor Latin Literature at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Philology. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters on Augustan literature (especially epic) and on Roman comedy, as well as two books on Ovid: Epic Succession and Dissension: Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.623-14.582, and the Reinvention of the Aeneid (De Gruyter 2005); and Redesigning Achilles: The ‘Recycling’ of the Epic Cycle in Ovid, Metamorphoses 12.1-13.620 (De Gruyter 2007). She has published the first translation of Plautus’ Miles gloriosus in modern Greek, along with the first interpretive commentary of the play since 1963 (Smili 2009); and she is also the editor and principal author of Terence and Interpretation (Series Pierides; Cambridge Scholars Publishing). Several of her studies involve the reception of Vergil and Ovid in the Late Antiquity across various genres and authors, and one of her current projects includes the tracing of Vergilian and Ovidian influence in the subtext of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca.

About the Research Project
Nonnus/ Latinity: Revisiting the Issue of Latin Influence on Greek Epic and High Culture in the Late Antiquity

My primary research launches afresh the assessment of the Latin Question in the study of Nonnus of Panopolis’ epic Dionysiaca. In a book-length study I argue that Nonnus was familiar with the Latin tradition, certainly the Aeneid, wherefrom papyri fragments have been discovered in Egypt dating from the 5th century, but also Ovid’s Metamorphoses and other widely read Latin texts, especially epics, such as Catullus’ carmen 64. My research strives to reverse the scholarly communis opinio, which is reluctant to accept that Nonnus (and Greek authors of the Late Antiquity as a rule) engaged in dialogue in conscious, systematic and sophisticated way with the Latin literary tradition. During my tenure at Princeton I have made substantial progress towards substantiating Nonnus’ creative engagement with Latin literature. I have accessed most of the available bibliography on Nonnus, especially the studies on Nonnus’ intertextual interaction with the Greek sources, I have identified over thirty passages in the course of the Dionysiaca in which a close dialogue with some Latin model has been formed and advanced to a creative level, and I have been confidently working towards establishing a typology of appropriation of the Latin tradition, either directly or filtered through the Greek courses.