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Oxford professor Chris Pelling, D.Phil., will discuss the influence of Greek and Roman history and literature on the English language’s most-beloved writer at a presentation at 4:30 p.m. on April 8 in the Mary L. Welch Honors Hall on the corner of 4th and Basin Streets. The presentation is free and open to the public.
During his presentation, “Plutarch and Shakespeare,” Pelling discusses the ways in which Shakespeare transforms Plutarch's Lives, his main source for Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Coriolanus. Shakespeare knew Plutarch in Thomas North's translation, which was in itself based on Amyot's French translation of the original Greek. This double distancing had some odd effects, including a couple of marvelous scenes based on mistranslation. Pelling also shares why Shakespeare transforms several characters and themes but leaves others untouched, and how even those transformations owe a debt to Plutarch’s own manner, so that at times he is out-Plutarching Plutarch himself.
Pelling is a literary critic and historian at Oxford University. He has more than 40 years of teaching experience at several universities in England and the United States. He also was the Regius Professor of Greek, the highest position for Classics professors at Oxford University, from 2003–2015. He has published several books and dozens of journal articles on ancient Greek and Latin literature, particularly on Greek tragedy, and biographies of influential writers of those times. His writings broke new ground by applying literary analysis to historical texts, ranging from Tacitus to Plutarch. At the same time, he was a generous tutor, well regarded by students.
He earned his M.A. and D.Phil. from Oxford University. In 2009, he was elected as a fellow of the British Academy, one of the highest academic distinctions that a British scholar in the arts, humanities or social sciences can receive.