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With Caesar as Prism: Danish receptions of ancient Rome from the Middle Ages until today

Særlige forskningsprojekter

What

While Denmark was never part of the Roman Empire, Classical culture is as much part of our cultural heritage as it is for the rest of the Western world. The project analyzes the long-term influences of Roman culture on Danish, exploiting my recent studies of the ubiquity of Caesar in Danish culture. Working from the hypothesis that the idea of long-term Greek cultural prevalence has escaped revision since it is connected to Romantic ideas still defining Danish culture, the project aims to inscribe ancient Rome as a central factor in the formation of Danish culture, as well as to set new standards for interdisciplinary research in Classics through collaborations with The Caesar's Forum Project.

Why

Our understanding of Danish cultural history has long been misdirected by the common assumption that ancient Greece has had a more substantial influence on Western culture than ancient Rome. This is considered a result of Romanticism's praise of originality that devalued Roman culture due to its dependence on Greek. However, the continued impact of Latin and Roman culture through education (the Latinskole) and as the language of science has naturally left substantial marks on Danish cultural expressions, that which this project will shed light on. Its scope makes the project a milestone in research on Danish cultural history, just as the regional and chronological scope sets it out within the international research on Caesar's reception.

How

Placing itself within the theoretical framework of reception studies, the project considers the past not as a fixed Truth but a flexible entity whose meaning depends on its interpreters, thus setting out to scrutinize the active role of each interpreter or receiver. Reception studies are on the rise in Classics in Denmark and internationally, but treatments tend to focus on particular periods or cases, and, if spanning broader chronologically, to cover a scattered geographical scope and take the form of edited volumes. Objects of study are primarily textual source material, approached with a plurality of methods of philology and literary criticism. The excellent Classics environment at Oxford ensures critical dialogue on the highest expert level.

SSR

Uncovering how regional cultural identity develops in constant dialogue with the common Classical heritage, the project offers new nuances for the current Western debate of national vs. supranational identity, also for a non-specialist readership.