Cinematic receptions of antiquity: the current state of play

Paul, Joanna (2010). Cinematic receptions of antiquity: the current state of play. Classical Receptions Journal, 2(1) pp. 136–155.



The study of cinematic receptions of antiquity has been one of the most vigorous and voluminous areas in classical reception scholarship over the past decade and a half. Whether dealing with historical films, adaptations of ancient literature, creative engagements with myth, or any other permutation of the relationship between antiquity and the present, cinema’s fascination with the ancient past pervades not only scholarly research, but teaching too. ‘Film and the Ancient World’ courses are now a familiar and attractive fixture on many undergraduate syllabuses, perhaps the most common way of introducing students of Classics and Ancient History to reception theory.1 Movies can also be used as tools for teaching other, more conventional strands of the discipline, such as mythology (Rose 2001, McDonald 2008). Most importantly, the production of new ‘ancient world’ films continues apace, fuelling the fire of both criticism and pedagogy.

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