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Peter Bing

221D Candler Library

My interests in literature, and thus the seeds of my career, go back to three key experiences when I was a teenager in New York. First, working as a stage-manager in a small off-off-Broadway theater sparked a love of drama in me. At that theater I had the opportunity to see plays by Shakespeare, Chekov, Brecht, etc. - tens of times. Theater has remained for me an enduring passion. Second, I was employed as a program researcher and high-school advisor to the Poetry Center of the 92nd St. YMHA. In the two years I worked there, I attended every poetry reading, heard such authors as W.H. Auden, Pablo Neruda, Derek Walcott, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and developed the habit of reading poetry. Third, I took Ancient Greek in a summer course at Columbia University, and was hooked by the beauty of the language.

I pursued and deepened these interests as an undergraduate at Bowdoin College (B.A. ’76) and then as a doctoral student in Classical Studies at the Universities of Tübingen (1978/9) and Michigan (M.A. ’78, Ph.D. ’81). Here, my focus turned to the literature of the Hellenistic era, considered marginal and decadent during my studies, now a hotbed of research. What fascinated me particularly were the scholar/poets who emigrated from far-flung parts of Greece to Egypt with its recently founded capital of Alexandria. These were drawn to an alien land with its own very ancient traditions through the efforts of its new Macedonian rulers, the Ptolemies, who were determined to make their court at Alexandria an artistic and intellectual hub for the Greek world by instituting such ambitious cultural projects as the Alexandrian Museum and Library. The learned poets of the time – representatives of an emerging “book-culture” that started to displace the oral/performative tradition of earlier eras – have remained a primary subject of my scholarship.

Since finishing my Ph.D. I have taught Classics at University of Pennsylvania (1981-1987), Case Western Reserve University (1987-1989), and for the past 27 years at Emory, where I am currently Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of the Classics. I have also been a Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. (1984/5), twice a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the University of Tübingen (1985 and 1992/3), a Visiting Fellow, Clare Hall, Cambridge University (1999/00), and the  Barrington Fellow of the Margo Tytus Visiting Fellowship Program, Univ. of Cincinnati (2005/6). My books include The Well-Read Muse. Present and Past in Callimachus and the Hellenistic Poets (Göttingen 1988, 2nd ed. Michigan Classics Press, 2008), Games of Venus: An Anthology of Greek and Roman Erotic Verse from Sappho to Ovid, co-authored with R. Cohen (Routledge Press 1991), The Scroll and The Marble: Studies in Reading and Reception in Hellenistic Poetry (Ann Arbor 2009) and Aristaenetus: Erotic Letters. Introduced, Translated and Annotated, co-authored with Regina Höschele (Society of Biblical Literature 2014).


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