Reconsidering the relationship between Geography and the Classics: lessons from a British report from the 1920s


  • Davide Papotti Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Enterprises, University of Parma, Italy


Reading essays and conference reports dating back to more than a century ago, as happens with most historical sources, produces a “mirror effect”. Opening a window on our ancestors’ words, thoughts and problems inevitably brings us to compare the distance that separates our times from theirs. At the same time, though, it often induces a sudden feeling of proximity, of fraternal closeness, despite the historical gap produced by the years that have passed. Reading the short Précis of evidence (the very words bring to our eyes the flavor of an elegant language coming from the past) written by four representatives of the Geographical Association, who were answering a specific request posed by the Prime Minister’s Committee on Classics, surely produces the second effect. It is indeed surprising to see how many of the issues brought up in the report could usefully be applied to our times. Since the text refers to the importance, for a discipline but also for a sound cultural growth at large, of looking back at the past, it is particularly valuable to read the following pages taking into consideration the three different temporal layers that are thus intertwined: the classic age of antiquity, the time when the report was written (early twentieth century) and the current time in which we are reading it.


Cordano F., La geografia degli antichi, Bari-Rome, Laterza, 2002.

Dueck D., Geography in Classical Antiquity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Molina M., Geographica: Ciencia del espacio y tradicíon narrative de Homero a Cosmas Indicopleustes, Murcia, Universidad de Murcia, 2010.






Teachings from the past (ed. by Dino Gavinelli and Davide Papotti)