Siracusa Summer Seminar 2023

Palazzo Francica Nava
Open to All
Team Taught
Summer 2023

Siracusa Seminar on Ancient Greek Philosophy,

July 24  – August 4, 2023

The ability to navigate Greek texts enhances our understanding of ancient philosophy and reveals its hidden treasures. Exedra’s “Greek for Philosophers” courses, organised with the Fonte Aretusa association, provide opportunities for scholars of philosophy to cultivate their language skills and engage with the ancient texts, whether they have studied Greek before or not. Courses are held online during the academic year and culminate in a summer school in Siracusa.

The 2023 Siracusa Seminar on Ancient Greek Philosophy with Dr. George Gazis, Dr. Chiara Blanco and Prof. Heather Reid, will be held from 24th July to 4th August and Plato’s Symposium will be the focus. The Symposium is a poetic and dramatic masterpiece that explores the topic of love (Eros) from a variety of perspectives, through speeches presented at a drinking party. Sexual love, educational love, homoeroticism, and the love for wisdom, ideas, and beauty are all discussed in creative and insightful ways, punctuated by Alcibiades’ poignant encomium of Socrates. Guest lecturers will be invited and participants will be encouraged to give short papers on the Symposium

The Intermediate/Advanced course takes the form of a reading group where excerpts of the Symposium will be read, translated and commented on. Participants will prepare a translation of a short passage in advance and then present their translation in class, after which the discussion of the content will be open to all. The aim is to provide students and scholars interested in Plato with an informal platform in which they can come into contact with the text in the original Greek and discuss the content in a relaxed and friendly environment. 

An Elementary Greek course will also be held, aimed at Greek learners who have already done a Beginners Greek course (either with Exedra or elsewhere) and who have basic notions of the Greek language (article, declensions, pronouns, verbs etc.). Learners will read simple original Greek texts, and work on the grammar and syntax as explained in “Reading Greek Beginners Course, supplemented by handouts where necessary. 

A Beginners Greek course will be arranged this year for total beginners or anyone who needs to go back to basics. The text for this introduction to Ancient Greek will be “Reading Greek Beginners Course, supplemented by handouts where necessary

The groups will come together each day for presentations, lectures, workshops and discussion of Plato’s philosophy as found in the text. 

Participants can attend for one or two weeks. If attending one of the language classes (Beginners or Level 1, we suggest attending the first week as the courses will be designed to run over both weeks consecutively.

Applications will be accepted as long as space permits.

Siracusa, with its great Greek heritage, is the perfect place to study the works of Plato and Ancient Greek – and to enjoy the Mediterranean setting between classes. The Siracusa Seminar will combine Greek language study with academic lectures and presentations, as well as cultural activities, guided tours and cooking sessions. Participants study in the historic Palazzo Francica Nava on the picturesque island of Ortigia, just steps from the 5th century BCE Temple of Athena, and a short walk from the 6th century Temple of Apollo — or the Cala Rossa beach, in case you are in the mood for a swim. Come prepared for a full immersion into the Mediterranean lifestyle!

The Summer School is divided into two weeks of language and reading-based instruction. There will be two courses each week, with three hours of teaching for each course each day and students are expected to do extra hours of private study every day. Classes will be small so everyone can benefit from the full attention of the tutors.

Course Levels: 

Beginners : an introduction to the basics of Ancient Greek, for total beginners or those who want to refresh the basics.

Level 1: Elementary (some previous experience of Classical Greek).

Level 2: Intermediate/Advanced (c. two years of Classical Greek)

Students will be separated by language level for the 3-5 PM session, then come together for the presentations and workshop from 6-7 PM.

Typical schedule:

Morning: optional cultural activities (archaeological visits, cooking classes, etc.)

3-5 PM: Elementary Greek lessons or Reading and translation of Plato’s Symposium

5-6 PM: Break/Private Study

6-7 PM: Student presentations and workshops for all to discuss the philosophical commentary together

Participation Options

  • Standard Participation (lessons and workshops only)
  • Contributing Participation (includes paper presentation and possible publication)
  • Online auditing may be offered if conditions warrant

On-Line Option

On-line participation may be available, and will be confirmed in June 2023. While we strongly recommend coming in-person to get the best all-round experience, if on-line is your only option, please contact


Participants requesting financial assistance need to apply separately at this link by March 15th 2023.

Those able to sponsor a participant with financial needs can register at the sponsorship registry.

*Sponsorship: Individuals and organizations are invited to sponsor a qualified participant with financial need by paying all or part of their fees. The sponsorship may be anonymous or named, and the sponsor may choose the recipient if they wish.


  • Dates
  • Monday 24th July - Friday 28th July 2023Beginners Ancient Greek, Elementary Ancient Greek 1 and Reading Ancient Greek - Plato's Symposium 1
  • Monday 31st July - Friday 4th August 2023Beginners Ancient Greek 2, Elementary Ancient Greek 2 and Reading Ancient Greek - Plato's Symposium 2

All courses will be taught in English by Dr. George Gazis and Dr. Chiara Blanco, with Prof. Heather Reid.

Guest lecturers to be announced.

Dr. Gazis is Assistant Professor in Greek Literature at the Department of Classics and Ancient History, at Durham University. His research interests lie in Archaic Greek Poetry (mainly Homer), as well as Greek Lyric and Tragedy. He is the author of Homer and the poetics of Hades (OUP, 2018) and the editor of Aspects of Death in Greek Literature (LUP, forthcoming).

Dr. Blanco is a Research Lecturer in Classics at Trinity College, University of Oxford. Before joining Trinity, she was a Lecturer in Classics at Exeter College, Oxford, and she also taught Classics at Durham University and the University of Cambridge, where she also completed her PhD. Her main research interests lie in the intersections between ancient literature (Greek tragedy in particular) and medicine, and she is also interested in the role of the senses and emotions in Greek and Roman culture.

Prof. Reid is emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa USA and Scholar in Residence at Exedra Mediterranean Center in Siracusa, Sicily. She is a 2015 Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, 2018 Fellow of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, and 2019 Fulbright Scholar at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II. As founder of Fonte Aretusa, she promotes conferences and research on Western Greece. She has also published books and articles in ancient philosophy, philosophy of sport, and Olympic Studies, including Introduction to the Philosophy of Sport (2012), Athletics and Philosophy in the Ancient World (2011), and The Philosophical Athlete (2002, 2nd ed. 2019). 

Dr Jurgen R Gatt is Junior College Assistant Lecturer at the University of Malta. He is researching late 5th century literature, especially the Hippocratic Corpus, the orators Antiphon, Gorgias and Andocides, and the historians Herodotus and Thucydides. His interest lies in the use of evidence (especially empirical and testimonial) in the pre-paradigmatic era of scientific development represented in these texts, also logic, the philosophy of science and epistemology, particularly the philosophy of testimony.

Entry requirements

Adults (18+) with an interest in Ancient Greek, philosophy and classical literature.
Teaching groups will be small so students will benefit from working closely with the class tutors.

Text Books

Recommended Editions
Plato, Symposium, University of Cambridge

For Elementary Greek.
i. Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek, Oxford (optional).
ii. Oxford Greek Dictionary, Oxford (optional).

Other material will be provided by the course tutors.

How you study

Participants may choose to do one or two weeks of classes (running Monday to Friday)

The course will run with a minimum of 6 participants for each week and each course. Exedra reserves the right to cancel a course if numbers are not reached.

A typical weekday may look like this:
Morning – guided tour/activity
14.30 – 15.30 – Class
15.30 – 16.30 – Private study/Break
16.30 – 17.30 – Class
17.30 – 18.30 – Private study/Break
18.30 – 19.30 – Lecture/Workshop

Included Extras

Coffee breaks and light refreshments will be provided on weekdays, as will a welcome ‘apericena’ on Monday nights and a farewell dinner on Friday nights of both weeks. Participants will be taken on a guided tour of Ortigia to visit the temples of the Greek city and the most fascinating sites of the ‘island of the quails’. Orientation on arrival will include information about the course, the city and the latest Italian Covid-advice.

Additional Activities

Exedra will organises a range of activities from guided visits of archeological and historic sites, to aperitivi and cooking classes so participants can enjoy, not only the intense but stimulating lessons, but also the local culture and the wonderful setting of Ortigia.

Optional excusions

On Saturday 29th July, a day-trip to Taormina and Mount Etna. Fee for the trip includes private transport, one group meal at an Etna winery, entrance tickets and guide (min. 7 participants required).

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