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Alumni Spotlight Jan 2018

Paul Grigsby

About my time at Warwick:

I began my studies at Warwick in September 2012, having completed my BA in Classics at the University of Kent in Canterbury. From the very beginning, my experience of the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Warwick was incredibly positive, with the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff on my first approach being a very strong factor in my final choice of Warwick for my postgraduate study. I was lucky enough, with the help of Dr Zahra Newby, in securing departmental funding for my MA dissertation on the oracles of Boiotia, during the study of which I benefitted especially from the help of my supervisor Prof James Davidson and my personal tutor Dr Michael Scott. All three provided (and continue to provide) constant help and advice, but were just part of the welcoming and nurturing environment of the department as a whole. It is testament to both the excellence of the department and the closeness and friendliness of the people who work within it that when offered AHRC funding at the University of Exeter to study my PhD, I chose instead to remain at Warwick, where once again I was lucky enough to receive a full PhD scholarship from the department.

I enjoyed my time at Warwick immensely, from the weekly work-in-progress seminars - in which postgrads were able to present their research to the department as a whole in a friendly and supportive environment – through to the department-organized modern language classes, which provided more opportunities for building links between postgrads while building key academic skills. Similarly, during my time at Warwick I was also given the invaluable opportunity of teaching undergraduates during my second and third years, and of organizing the postgraduate summer colloquium. With the help and encouragement of the department I was awarded bursaries to attend conferences including the annual Classical Association conference in Edinburgh and Bristol, and also to travel abroad: in the summer of 2016 I received departmental funding (alongside securing funding from the Hellenic Society Dover Fund) to travel to Boiotia and visit the sites and the newly renovated Thebes Archaeological Museum, something which proved of vital importance to the completion of my PhD.

My studies at Warwick have provided me with the best possible platform for pursuing the next steps of my career, whatever form that career should take. On the strength of my work undertaken at Warwick I have been invited for a second time to present a paper at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in December 2017, and will be presenting at the Classical Association conference in Leicester in 2018. On a more practical note, my time at Warwick has also led to a keen interest in material culture – a speciality of the department – and I am excited at the possibility of pursuing a career in this field. Whatever the future holds, my experiences of studying at Warwick, the transferable skills I have acquired, and the continuing support of the friends and colleagues I have made here, will be a key factor in any future success.

Paul Grigsby

Thesis title:
Boiotian Games: Festivals, Agōnes, and the Development of Boiotian Identity

Thesis abstract:

This thesis takes as its theme Boiotian identity as expressed and disseminated through Boiotian games and festivals. It provides a complete chronological record of the evidence for Boiotian agōnes from the seventh century BC through to the end of the third century AD - alongside that of the most important collective Boiotian festivals – and discusses the role played by these games and festivals in the creation, development, and promotion of a unified Boiotian identity, thus contributing to the wider debates on identity and Boiotian ethnogenesis.
In contrast to recent studies - which by the nature of their methodology focus on the development of a unified Boiotian identity through shared traditions - this thesis emphasises the role of the separate Boiotian poleis in the creation of a multifaceted Boiotian identity, reflecting the federal nature of the Boiotian political system. This thesis also highlights three important roles played by festivals and agōnes in the formation and development of Boiotian identity: firstly, in the development of a unified Boiotian identity (Boiotian ethnogenesis proper) through cult interactions at local - often liminal - sanctuaries during the Geometric, Archaic, and early Classical periods; secondly, in the promotion through agōnes of Boiotian identity to the wider-Hellenic world especially during the later Classical, Hellenistic, and early-Roman periods; and thirdly, in maintaining a Boiotian community following the coming of Rome and the dissolution of the Boiotian koinon after 171BC, where participation in pan-Boiotian agonistic festivals was a crucial factor in the regeneration of a quasi-political Boiotian koinon just before the Imperial era. Games and festivals, so this thesis argues, were integral in the creation, dissemination, and survival of Boiotian ident