The Classics Lounge of the University of Toronto’s Lillian Massey Building was the site of a gathering worthy of the gods themselves last Friday evening. The launch of Elaine Fantham’s book Latin Poets and Italian Gods, based on her 2004 Robson lectures, inspired an enthusiastic turnout. Those who attended were well-rewarded by Fantham’s remarks that evening, as she eruditely shared colourful anecdotes about her distinguished career and the scholars she has worked with throughout the years.
Latin Poets and Italian Gods reconstructs the response of Roman poets in the late republic and Augustan age to the rural cults of central Italy. Rather than limiting her study to Olympian Greek deities such as Jupiter, Mars, and Juno, Fantham focuses on the humbler old country gods real-life Italians gave their affection and loyalty to such as local nymphs and (my personal favourite) the lusty garden god Priapus.
This was my first scholarly book launch, and it was a pleasure to attend such a successful event!