The aim of the conference is to celebrate the scholarly achievement of Professor Peter J. Parsons, FBA, just before his 70th birthday on 24 September 2006. Peter Parsons has spent most of his career at Christ Church, as an undergraduate, and later as University Lecturer in Papyrology; subsequently he was Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford from 1989 to 2003, and remains a warm and much-valued presence in the Oxford academic community. He has been editor and Director of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a long-running British Academy project, for decades, and has done work of fundamental importance in editing and commenting on new texts, among them important finds such as Callimachus’ Aetia and Simonides’ Plataean elegies. In collaboration with Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones, who preceded him in the Regius Chair, he edited the volume Supplementum Hellenisticum, which transformed the study of three centuries of Greek poetry. This is not to mention his supervision of numerous graduates, his six-year term as Tutor for Graduates in Christ Church, or his many years of devoted service as a member of key committees in Oxford and as Chairman of the Faculty Board at a turbulent time. It is widely felt, and not only in Oxford, that he deserves the tribute of a celebratory conference and a Festschrift.

This conference recognises his distinction as researcher and teacher by gathering an international team of scholars who are either former pupils or colleagues of Prof. Parsons, and all share a deep respect for his work. The theme of the conference is ‘Culture in Pieces’, alluding to the problems of reconstitution of tattered papyri and reconstruction of historical and cultural contexts from fragmentary evidence. The contributors do not all tackle specifically papyrological topics, but the general aim is to consider how the discovery of new evidence, especially new literary texts, has fertilised or enlarged the study of older evidence, either by setting the old in new light, or by enabling us to ask new questions. All the papers are new; some thematic groupings (especially questions of general interpretation, the study of Menander and his contemporaries, the nature of Alexandrian poetry, and the influence of the key figure Callimachus) provide a structure for the conference, and we expect valuable interaction between many of the speakers (and of course the rest of those attending).


The Hellenic Society has generously made some funds available to assist graduates in attending the conference by contributing to their travel and/or accommodation expenses. Preference will be given to those engaged in research on topics related to the theme of the conference or to Professor Parsons' own major interests (especially papyrology, Hellenistic literature and Greco-Roman presence in Egypt). Applications for support should be made to the organisers [Dirk Obbink or Richard Rutherford - Christ Church, Oxford OX1 1DP]. Applicants are encouraged to seek assistance first from their own departments.


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