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Irene Elias

Irene is a PhD candidate who joined the Penn Graduate Group in Ancient History in 2018 after earning a BA at Swarthmore College. She is primarily interested in questions of cultural history and sociology in classical Greece and the early Roman empire. Her dissertation, tentatively entitled "Elitism and Identity at the Late Symposium," seeks to establish the Greek symposium of the first and second centuries CE as a legitimate and unique offshoot of the earlier sympotic tradition. This dissertation examines the ways in which identities are created and signalled through sympotic activity, using traditions and texts to advertise elite Greek values and solidify in- and out-groups. Over the course of the argument, relationships are analyzed between the symposiasts and the non-elite, non-Greeks, Romans, and classical Greeks. In each case, the symposiasts work constantly to prove their cultural and intellectual superiority while setting themselves apart from their ancestral tradition by supporting the innovation and adaptability that ensure the symposium's relevance in a broader world.Irene is also interested in Greek philosophy (especially Plato), comedy, paleography, food and dining culture, debates about Caligula, and ancient Judaism.