What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests?
I teach ancient Greek language and literature. I am Sicilian and I arrived at Ca' Foscari in 2011. My research focuses on the history of Classical Greek, in comparison with both its predecessors (reconstructed Indo-European, Mycenaean) and its evolution in the Byzantine and Mediaeval periods. I specialise in the use of Greek dialects in literature and local inscriptions, compound word formation, and theories of linguistic purism in Greek-Roman times. The Purism in Antiquity (PURA) project, funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (2021-2026), is dedicated to the latter.
What led you to pursue a research career?
I studied at the universities of Rome La Sapienza (Bachelor's Degree), Cambridge (Master's and Ph.D.), Cologne (visiting PhD student) and Oxford (post-doc). I have always valued exchange with teachers, colleagues and students from different backgrounds. I was very lucky because my postgraduate studies were supported first by British institutions (at Cambridge and Oxford) and then by our Ministry of University, which with the 'Rita Levi Montalcini' programme gave me the chance to return to Italy from abroad and pursue an academic career in Italy.
What are you most passionate about in your research?
Greek is often thought of as a 'dead language', but the truth is that the multi-millennial history of this language continues to this day. This is what fascinates me in my job: studying the way Greek has evolved when confronted with the most diverse historical situations and has been represented in written documents, from Mycenaean Linear B tablets to great literary tradition authors (Homer, Sappho, tragedy...), passing through those texts that deliver us the everyday voice of Greek people (ownership inscriptions on vases, curse tablets, erotic graffiti...). It is a kaleidoscope of linguistic evidence that never ceases to fascinate me for its immense vitality: when I come face to face for the first time with the language of a text that I did not know - or even have the enormous luck to 'get my hands' on a previously unpublished document, as in the case of the vase abecedarius I published a few years ago - I feel the same curiosity that we feel when we meet a new person and do not want to stop talking to them. For me, studying Greek is truly a joy every day.
Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
Don't let anything put you off, follow your passions with seriousness and dedication but also with a good dose of madness. Gain experience abroad and experience new worlds.