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Classical Influences and Irish Culture

Project description

Ancient Greek and Roman impact on Irish culture

The EU-funded CLIC project is based on the hypothesis that although Ireland was never part of the Roman Empire, its culture presents influences from models from ancient Greece and Rome. Ireland’s considerable and long-dated tradition of classical learning will be the focus of this project, which will study nine diachronic issues: language, land, travel and exile, Troy, satire, Neoplatonism, female voices, material culture and global influence. This multi-thematic perspective will permit the investigation of classical reception in Ireland and provide a heuristic framework to establish a dialogue between diverse domains such as classical reception studies, Irish language studies, and Irish and British history. The project will also take into consideration current concerns about the history and politics of the divided island of Ireland and the violence and political divisions in Northern Ireland.


The hypothesis of this project is that Ireland has a unique and hitherto underexplored history of cultural engagement with models from ancient Greece and Rome. Unlike Britain and mainland Europe, Ireland was never part of the Roman Empire. Yet the island has an extraordinarily vibrant tradition of classical learning that dates back to its earliest recorded literature, and is unparalleled in other northern European countries. Research for this project will address why this is the case, by examining sources through nine significant diachronic themes identified by the PI: language; land; travel and exile; Troy; satire; Neoplatonism; female voices; material culture; and global influence. This multi-thematic approach will enable analysis of what is remarkable about classical reception in Ireland. It will also provide a heuristic framework that generates dialogue between normally disparate fields, such as classical reception studies, Irish and British history, English-language literature, Irish-language literature, medieval studies, postcolonial studies, philosophy, material culture, women's studies, and global studies. The project will engage with contemporary preoccupations surrounding the politics and history of the divided island of Ireland, such as the current decade of centenary commemorations for the foundation of an independent Irish state (1912-1922, 2012-2022), and the on-going violence and political divisions in Northern Ireland. These issues will serve as a springboard for opening new avenues of investigation that look far beyond the past 100 years, but are linked to them. The project will thus shed new light on the role of classical culture in shaping literary, social, and political discourse across the island of Ireland, and throughout its history.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 888 592,00
8000 Aarhus C

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Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 888 592,00

Beneficiaries (1)