AMME Seminar 23.11.23: ‘Ancient Kings and Ancient Queens’

We are pleased to announce that the third Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar of the fall semester will be organised as a hybrid event on Thursday 23 November (16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki time).

The session will consist of two papers – by Jasmin Lukkari and Gillian Ramsey – followed by a shared question round and discussion on the seminar specific theme of ‘ancient kings and ancient queens’. The topics of the talks are:

The Seleucid Kings of the 2nd Century BC in Greek and Roman Narratives (Dr. Jasmin Lukkari)

During the late 3rd and early 2nd century BC, Rome began to expand its influence towards the Eastern Mediterranean, which quickly brought Rome into conflict with the Seleucid kingdom which was ruled by King Antiochus III the Great at the time. Hellenistic kings who encountered the Romans, including the Seleucid kings, feature prominently in the historical works written during the Roman Republican era. In this presentation, I will mainly focus on Polybius’ (c. 200 – c. 118 BC) and Livy’s (64/59 BC – c. AD 17) accounts of Antiochus III the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and Demetrius I Soter. I ask, how these three kings are characterized in the two historians’ narratives, what each historian is trying to achieve with the characterizations, and to what extent the characterizations reflect reality. The characterizations of Antiochus IV will be discussed in more detail because Polybius’ and Livy’s accounts diverge significantly.

In my research, I apply methods of literary theory, such as narratology, to complement the more traditional methods of historical research. In antiquity, even professional historians did not only want to provide a truthful account of historical events to their audience, but they also wanted to render their narratives entertaining and educational. My purpose is to discover precisely how they employed certain literary techniques to mould their historical narratives around their various personal goals. This kind of knowledge will help historians read ancient historiography more critically and place the sources in a correct literary and political context more accurately. 

Seleukid Queens, War, and Propaganda: Some recent thoughts on old tropes’ (Assist. Prof. Dr. Gillian Ramsey)

For various reasons, the old tropes about how Hellenistic queens inevitably turn to violence, and how the female exercise of power sows mayhem and discord, retain considerable narrative force in current historiography. That is, even while historians might resist the urge to employ those tropes, they still affect the efforts to (re-) conceptualize Hellenistic queenship and the personal histories of queens. This paper will revisit some (infamous and other) episodes in Seleukid queenly history and consider how the most recent thinking on Hellenistic female power applies to them. It will examine some of the contemporary iconography for these queens and also the (often later) ancient historical commentaries on them in order to explicate some of the challenges facing efforts to categorize and neatly define Hellenistic queenly power.

All are welcome, so please share and join us in person or online!

Time: Thursday 23 November at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC+2h).

Live venue: Language centre, 1st floor, room 105 / Kielikeskus, 1.krs., sh. 105 (Fabianinkatu 26).

Virtual venue: Zoom (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118 /

Wonder what else is on the menu? Check out the AMME fall program on the ANEE news blog!