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Research and education
in the field of Greek and Roman heritage
and its reception in East and Central Europe

The newly founded Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw continues and develops all the scientific activities of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies “Artes Liberales” (IBI AL) and of the former Centre for Studies on the Classical Tradition in Poland and East-Central Europe OBTA (twice the winner of the Hanna Arendt Prize for “innovative programs and interdisciplinary study in the humanities”), which still forms one of its most important departments. From 1992 various scientific programs of interdisciplinary research on the Greek and Roman tradition as well as experimental academic studies (B.A., M.A. Ph.D.) have been realized with a close participation of partners from this region of Europe, chiefly from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.

The “Artes Liberales” numbers now 50 scholars. More than 1000 scholars (from Poland and abroad) are regularly cooperating in research programs organized by Faculty.

Professor Jerzy Axer is Director and Dean of the Faculty.


  1. The founding in 1996 of the East-Central European School in the Humanities (MSH) is one of the most important successes of the Centre. Its main goal being to encourage and promote studies on the role of Greek, Roman and Byzantine tradition in the culture of East-Central Europe and to support the formation of a new generation of scholars in disciplines particularly neglected till now in this region. The staff of the School is composed of specialists from all cooperating universities and visiting professors from Western Europe and United States. Since 1996 more than 3000 young Graduate and Postgraduate students (chosen through competition) from whom about 75% coming from the countries of the former Soviet Union had participated in sessions, seminars and summer schools under individual tutorial assistance. MSH closest partners are e.g. Russian State University for Humanities (Moscow), European University at Saint Petersburg, Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Ivan Franko National University (Lviv), Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv), National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Belorussian State Univesity (Minsk), Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno and most of the leading Polish universities.
  2. Hellenic Studies were established at OBTA in 1997 as the first academic studies in Modern Greek ever held at a Polish university. The program of the three year academic studies (B.A.) in Modern Greek Philology covers both the language and culture of the ancient Greece and Byzantium and an intensive course in Modern Greek (with actually three highly qualified native Greek teachers sent by Greek Ministry of Education) as well as lectures and seminars on Greek history, literature and culture. The Hellenic Studies are headed by professor Małgorzata Borowska, author of two basic manuals of Greek:

    MORMOLYKE. Book of Ancient Greek, Warszawa 1996 (p. 482).Manual of Ancient Greek based on original texts (no made-up or simplified Greek!) taken from almost every author of importance from Homer till the end of Antiquity (poetry, drama, prose, documents) presenting Ancient Greek as a „living” language (jokes, riddles, proverbs, cross-words, mathematical problems) with illustrations from Greek vases constituting a test of knowledge in Greek mythology.
    BARBAIORGOS. Book of Modern Greek, Warszawa 2000 (p. 480)Continuation of Mormolyke – the first full manual of Contemporary Modern Greek Language (demotic) in Polish, with a mature approach to teaching Greek at universities and other centres of higher education (original texts of all kinds; poetry, songs, proverbs, press cuts, everyday dialogues) bringing the pupil in contact with all the aspects of contemporary Greek live and culture, illustrated with old Greek landscapes and heroes of Popular Shadow Theatre.
    The creation of Modern Greek Philology was possible first of all thanks to the support of the Honorary Consul of Poland in Cyprus, Loukis Papaphilippou, who has founded the Papaphilippou Seat for Advancement of Modern Greek at the University of Warsaw (2007). The studies are supported by the Greek Ministry of Education and others Greek institutions.
  3. Mediterranean Studies (B.A.; M.A.) created in 2004 offer a wide range of interdisciplinary courses on various aspects of the Mediterranean civilisation focusing mainly on its common roots – Ancient Greece and Rome – and their impact on contemporary culture of the region.
  4. Polono-Classica – a new experimental studies will be inaugurated in IBI AL in the next academic year (in cooperation with the Department of Polish Philology). Its main purpose is to study the Classical (Ancient Greek and Roman) tradition and its specific reception in Polish national culture.
  5. Doctoral Studies – IBI AL has initiated in 2008 an experimental innovative Postgraduate Studies in a close cooperation with the Department of History.
  6. Others Educational programs – IBI AL supports and closely cooperates with all forms of studying innovative in Polish higher education initiated before by OBTA, such as the Collegium of the Interdepartmental Individual Studies in the Humanities (MISH), the Educational Laboratory of MISH preparing students in the best possible way for their role as future teachers or the “Artes Liberales” Academy Program (AAL), which enables its students to complete successive years of their individual studies at seven Polish universities (inter-university system).

Research and publications
The principle objective of IBI AL is to foster the creation of an interdisciplinary and international scientific milieu, in which research on joint (regional and European) cultural heritage will be combined with reflection on its national and regional differentiation formulating a new “research questionnaire” orientated toward reception and change.
cf. J. Axer: Central-Eastern Europe in: A Companion to the Classical Tradition, ed. by C. W. Kallendorf, Blackwell 2007.
Four editorial series were initiated: “Essays and Studies”, “Latin in Poland”, “Texts and People” and “Masterpieces of the Modern Greek Literature”.
The main programs of research on Greek and Roman tradition and its reception include e.g.:
A. Greek and Byzantine tradition:

  1. Ancient Greek dance and its influence on contemporary culture – a project realized with a close cooperation with Dora Stratou Institute in Athens.
    Orchesis. Texts on Ancient Greek dance, ed. A. Lazou, A. Raftis, M. Borowska, Athens 2004);
  2. Ancient Greek and Roman drama and its reception – with cooperation with the Theatre Department of the National Capodistrian University of Athens.
    e.g. The Seeds of Dionysus. The inspiration of Ancient Greece for 20th cent. Theatre and Drama, Warszawa 1997;
    Scaenica Saravi-Varsoviensia. Beitrage zum antiken Theater und zu seinem Nachleben ed. J. Axer, W. Görler, Warszawa 1997.
  3. Masterpieces of the Modern Greek Literature – a series promoting Greek literature from the Cretan period till today in Polish translations, some of which being the work of Modern Greek Philology students:
    vol. I–III: Bergadis, Apokopos; Anonymous Shepherdess; V. Kornaros, The sacrifice of Abraham; Anthology of Greek folksongs; A. Kalvos, Odes; D. Solomos, Woman from Zakynthos, Warszawa 2004;
    vol. IV–V: Anthology of Greek folktales, Warszawa 2006.
    vol. VI: A. Coray, Corespondence. Anthology, Warszawa 2008.
  4. Byzantine culture and its influence on the national cultures of the region.
    e.g. T.M. Conley, Byzantine Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Poland (“Essays and Studies” 2), Warszawa 1992;
    I. Ševčenko, Ukraina między Wschodem a Zachodem / Ukraine between East and West (“Essays and Studies” 3), Warszawa 1996.
  5. Philhellenism – project of interdisciplinary team research on Polish Philhellenism, its specificity and European contexts.
    vol I (series « Classical Tradition of Romantics ») : Philhellenism in Poland. Reconnaissance, ed. M. Kalinowska, M. Borowska, J. Ławski, K. Tomaszuk, Warszawa 2007.
  6. Dictionary of Balcan culture – the purpose of the project is a team research on the most difficult and controversial problems of history and actual situation of the so-called Balcan area.

B. Roman tradition:

  1. Latin in Poland – series of fascicles presenting the results of research on the Latin literary texts and documents from East-Central Europe and collected source material.
    e.g. Between Slavia Latina and Slavia Orthodoxa (fsc. 1–2); Mathematical and natural sciences (fsc. 3–4), Antiquitates (fsc. 5–6); Latin as means of communication in medieval Poland (fsc. 10–12).
  2. Latin as the language of the elites – scientific program promoting a new approach to study of Modern Latin texts as a separate category of testimony, linked by their shared cultural code and forming a condensed commentary to the history of national communities and their place in European culture.
    Łacina jako język elit / Latin as the language of the elites, red. J. Axer, Warszawa 2004.
  3. Registration and Publication of the Correspondence of Ioannes Dantiscus (1485–1548) – research and publication of the Corpus Epistularum Ioannis Dantisci, an eminent Polish poet, scholar and diplomat, ambassador at Spanish court. The edition (by Jerzy Axer with collaboration of Anna Skolimowska), under the patronage and official support of the International Union of Academies, will consist of at least 17 volumes. So far two volumes have been published (the third is in print):
    1. Ioannes Dantiscus’ Latin Letters, 1537, Transcription from manuscript, commentary and annotations by Anna Skolimowska (vol. I of Ioannis Dantisci Epistulae Latinae, part 1 of the Corpus), Warsaw-Cracow 2004.
    2. Inventory of Ioannes Dantiscus’ German-Language Corrrespondence, A.1500-1548, comp. by T. Ososiński (vol. I of Inventory of Ioannes Dantiscus’ Corrrespondence, part IV of the Corpus), Warsaw-Cracow 2007.
      Cf. also: Espaňoles y polacos en la Corte de Carlos V. Cartas del embajador Juan Dantisco, ed. J. Axer, A. Fontan, Madrid 1994.
      Respublica Litteraria in Action. Letters, speeches, poems, inscriptions, ed. A. Skolimowska, Warsaw-Cracow 2007.

The above-mentioned activities of IBI AL are supported by many international sponsors mainly through the Foundation “Instytut Artes Liberales”, which makes possible to use the whole of the donation exclusively for the purposes intended by the donator.
In the actual situation to find new sources of financing IBI AL expanding activities become urgent, especially as the Institute is gradually developing closer cooperation with institutions of the countries outside the European Union, such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The further increasing of our activities in this direction seems essential to promote new interdisciplinary approaches to the common heritage and its specific transformations in the region “between” west and east as well as to create innovative educational programs.