Tania Demedriou
“Shakespeare’s Homer in 1601: Troilus and Cressida

What was Greek about Shakespeare’s England in 1601? This paper will explore some aspects of Shakespeare’s engagement with Homer in Troilus and Cressida. Scholars have often proposed a connection between the play and the Earl of Essex – an intensely popular figure whose political career reached a notorious climax and controversial end in the year the play was written, and the dedicatee of Chapman’s 1598 Iliad, on which the play draws. Usually these approaches have centred on an appraisal of Shakespeare’s Achilles in light of the fact that Chapman presented this Homeric hero as a prefiguration of Essexian virtue. I will suggest a different approach to such roman-a-clef readings. Chapman, I will argue, gave his contemporaries not a rigid allegorical structure, but a highly adaptable, powerful prism for interpreting the profoundly unsettling political events that unfolded around Essex in these years; this is what Shakespeare did in Troilus. The paper will end by focussing on a reading of the ending of the play – the death of Hector – in this light. Invariably described as the part of the drama that is least indebted to the Iliad, this finale, I hope to show, would have spoken to some members of Shakespeare’s audience in Homeric terms more strongly than any other moment.

Yves Peyré
“Shakespeare’s ‘Greek Romances’ and the construction of femininity”

The paper re-examines the relationship between Shakespeare's Late Plays and the Greek prose romances, mainly, but not exclusively, Heliodorus' Aethiopica and Achilles Tatius' Clitophon and Leucippe. The connection, most scholars agree, is very probably indirect. An exploration of different kinds of indirect contact (through early modern translations into Latin or into European vernacular languages, various types of literary imitation, etc.) suggests that indirectness does not necessarily mean distortion or dissolution but can be, in its way, creative. Trying to follow the by-ways of transmission may occasionally lead, beyond the romances of the second Sophistic, back to Homer and the Greek tragedians. Looking back and forth through the lenses of intermediary early modern texts – from Greek classical literature towards Shakespeare and from Shakespeare's plays towards Greek literary works – draws attention to various nuances of an imaginative representation of femininity.

Gordon Braden
«Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy»

Since the 17th century praise of Shakespeare has often linked his name to those of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; evidence that he read or was influenced by their plays has been hard to come by, but an intuitive feeling that the connection is an important one has endured and interest in the possibility has never disappeared. Collections of Shakespearean lines that seem to echo lines from surviving Greek tragedies have been large but in themselves unconvincing. Since the 1980s more sophisticated arguments have been made, the best of them involving careful examination of complicated evidence regarding particular plays (especially Hamlet). An important recent line of thought concerns the influence of Greek tragedy through Greek tragedy’s shaping influence on Plutarch, whom we know Shakespeare read closely. Plutarch also quotes Greek tragedy directly in his own works, and other texts published in Shakespeare’s time contain extensive quotations from classic Greek plays (including many outside the modern canon of 33 plays). This is a large body of evidence that has yet to be fully collected and studied, but suggests further possibilities for the direct influence Greek tragic poetry on English Renaissance literature generally.

Dionysis Kapsalis
“Sounding Words: On Translating Shakespeare”
Dionysis Kapsalis, writer and translator, will share with the audience some thoughts about the translation of Shakespeare into the Greek language.

Dimitra Dalpanagioti
“Representing/ Constructing Femininity in Greek Translations of Shakespeare’s Plays”
This paper compares and contrasts the representations of William Shakespeare’s Desdemona in two chronologically adjacent translations of The Tragedy of Othello: the 1875 translation by Demetrios Vikelas and the 1915 translation of the same play by Konstantinos Theotokis. The three decades that separate these translations from each other witnessed important social and ideological developments regarding “the woman question,” i.e. the discussion about the nature and roles of women in society. A close comparative reading of the Shakespearean text and the two translations yields evidence that Desdemona was appropriated by the two translators to accommodate their views on womanhood and reflect their stance on the woman question. In the case of Vikelas, Desdemona was made to fit the dominant 19th-century bourgeois model of passive and fragile femininity. Nevertheless, the adoption of the prevailing incriminating attitude toward female sexuality by Vikelas caused him to mar the idealizing portrait of Desdemona by loading her with intense sexuality at key points of the play. In the case of Theotokis, Desdemona approximated the model of dynamic, yet victimized, woman that is encountered in the woman-friendly Greek literature of early-20th century. Theotokis traced in her a contradictory experience whereby she revolts as a daughter and she is endowed with unprecedented eloquence and dynamism, only to be totally dedicated to and willingly subdued by Othello, ultimately reaching the point of self-abnegating death.

Tina Krontiris
“Karolos Koun’s Shakespeare: an Uncomfortable Fit between Ancient Greek and Modern Drama”

“Shakespeare is the privilege of England,” said Karolos Koun (1908-1987), one of Greece’s foremost directors. By this he meant that the English who live in the same land as their Elizabethan poet have a kind of access to his plays that is not available to all. Through an analysis of Koun’s stage theory and his practice in the Shakespearean plays he staged, the paper will attempt to show that a discussion of Englishness need not lead back to the question, What England? What Nation? Koun’s angle of viewing Shakespeare’s plays is unique because it is neither motivated by nostalgia nor national unity informed by xenophobia or cultural separatism. It is the genuine concern of a politically progressive director who sought ways to integrate cultures on stage in a very essential and meaningful way. However, he encountered problems in his attempts to accommodate Shakespeare in his Art Theatre practice and in the Greek national traditions. The larger theoretical issue at hand concerns the degree of Shakespeare’s cultural adaptability. The paper points to the idea that Shakespeare cannot be substantially assimilated into a diverse foreign culture and that a large degree of adaptation is necessary for his wider appeal. Koun’s efforts to “tame” the English bard for a Greek audience may explain, at least in part, the fear of failure in staging Shakespeare—a fear that is lessened today with the effects of globalized, multi-media stage techniques.

Yiannis Anastasakis
“Shakespeare at the National Theatre of Northern Greece”

The Artistic Director of the NTNG, Yiannis Anastasakis, will present a selection of the most important Shakespeare productions in the 55-year-old history of this theatrical organization. Using video, photographs, and voice recordings, he will attempt a journey through time, aiming to underline the major approaches to Shakespearean plays in stage direction and interpretation, the visual development of the stage, and the contribution of the National Theatre of Northern Greece to the reception of Shakespeare in Greece. (Video-montage: Anta Liakou.)



Biographical Notes

Yiannis Anastassakis was born in Thessaloniki in 1964. He studied Classical Literature at the University of Ioannina (1982-1986) and Theatre in the Drama School of the National Theatre of Northern Greece (NTNG) (1986-1989). He is a founding member of the Theatrical Company of the University of Ioannina (1983) and of the theatre organization “STIGMI” (1995). He is also a member of the Company of Greek Directors, the Association of Greek Actors and the Greek Film Academy. He has taught the course "Stage directing" at the Department of Theatre Studies of the University of Patras (2008-2012.) He has directed 30 theatrical productions (at the NTNG, the Regional Theatres of Patras, Ioannina, Agrinio and Serres, and at “Stoa”, “STIGMI” etc.). He participated as an actor in many productions and as an assistant director at the National Theatre of Greece and the NTNG. He has played in short and feature films (Ôï ìéêñü øÜñé, Ç øõ÷Þ óôï óôüìá, Ï ìá÷áéñïâãÜëôçò, Ï íïôéÜò etc.). Since August 2015 he holds the position of Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Northern Greece. His collaborations with NTNG include: directing and adapting the play Trelovgenio by Inês Kaniati (Mone Lazariston - Mikro Theatro, 07/02/2014) and the play Woman of Lot by Marios Pontikas (Kilkis, Prefecture Hall Events 12/01/2001 and Mikro Theatre in Mone Lazariston). This year he is directing Feydeau’s play "A Flea in Her Ear", which is expected to premier on 25/11/2016 at the Royal Theatre of NTNG.

Gordon Braden is Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He is author of Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition (1985), The Idea of the Renaissance (1989; with William Kerrigan), and Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance (1999), and co-editor (with Robert Cummings and Stuart Gillespie) of the Renaissance volume of The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English (2010). He is currently working on a history of English Petrarchism and editing the pseudo-Platonic Axiochus for the forthcoming Oxford edition of Edmund Spenser.

Dimitra Dalpanagioti received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the School of English of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She works as an English Language Teacher in state Primary Schools. Her doctoral research, which is being supervised by Prof. Tina Krontiris, explores the reception and appropriation of Shakespeare’s female protagonists in Greek translations of his plays.

Tania Demetriou is Lecturer in Early Modern Literature at the University of York (UK). She works on the reception of classical texts in the early modern period, especially on literary responses to Homer in the English Renaissance. She has published on Spenser, Chapman, early modern interpretations of Penelope, and on sixteenth-century textual criticism and early modern approaches to Homeric Question. She co-edited The Culture of Translation in Early Modern England and France, 1500-1660 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) together with Rowan Tomlinson, and two collections of essays on early modern drama and Greek texts together with Tanya Pollard: Milton, Drama, and Greek Texts (= The Seventeenth Century, 31:2 (2016)) and Homer, Greek Tragedy, and the Early Modern Stage (= Classical Receptions Journal, 9:1 (2017)).

Tina Krontiris is Professor in the Department of English Literature at Aristotle University, which she joined in 1989. Since then she has taught courses and supervised research on Renaissance literature and drama, including Shakespeare, and has also lectured in other countries on these subjects. Her first major contribution was the book Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of the English Renaissance (Routledge 1992). In the last fifteen years she has dealt with various aspects of Shakespeare’s reception. Her major publications in this field include the book Ï Óáßîðçñ óå êáéñü ðïëÝìïõ [Shakespeare in Wartime], 1940-1950 (Athens, 2007) and a series of articles in international journals and collections of essays on the reception of Shakespeare in Greece. She is an invitee to the biennial conference of the International Shakespeare Association (Stratford-Upon-Avon) and a contributor to the new Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia.

Stathis Livathinos was born in Athens. He graduated from the Drama School of Pelos Katselis and the Department of English Language and Literature of the University of Athens. He also graduated, with Distinction, from the State Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow. In the period 2001-2007, he served as Artistic Coordinator of the Experimental Stage of the National Theatre of Greece where he directed a number of productions. While working for the Experimental Stage he launched an innovative educational project with the establishment of the first School for Stage Directing in Greece. His productions have been staged in Greece and abroad (recently Homer's Iliad in a world tour) and he has been the recipient of many awards, including the Award of Theatre Critics of Moscow. He has taught courses on theater at the University of Patras, the Centre for Ancient Drama, Harvard University (A.R.T.) in the US and recently at the Theatre Academy of Shanghai in China (2016). Since April 2015 he holds the position of Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Greece.

Yves Peyré is Emeritus Professor of English at Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, Honorary President of the Société Française Shakespeare, which he chaired from 2003 to 2006, and co-General Editor of Cahiers Élisabéthains from 2001 to 2009. He is General Editor of A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology. He is the author of La Voix des mythes dans la tragédie élisabéthaine (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 1996) and Venus and Adonis (Paris: Didier-Érudition, 1998), as well as numerous articles and chapters on the reception of classical mythology in early modern English literature.

Janice Valls-Russell is employed by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier (France). The author of a PhD and articles on classical mythology and the early modern world, she is project coordinator of A Dictionary of Shakespeare’s Classical Mythology and has edited canto II of Thomas Heywood’s Troia Britanica for the online Early Modern Mythological Texts Series (www.shakmyth.org). She has co-edited a volume on Interweaving Myths in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (forthcoming from Manchester University Press in 2017). She also serves as Reviews & Managing Editor for the well-established journal Cahiers Elisabethains.