The Hippolytus Initiative

Wednesday 30 November 2022

In 2022, a group of two students, Emily Speed and Duncan Tarboton, created the Hippolytus Initiative. The project aims to start conversations using ancient source material and texts to confront uncomfortable truths about society’s relationship with sex and gender, with a particular focus on using Classics to combat the radicalisation of young people by ‘incel’ culture and the misappropriation of ancient material by the alt-right.

What is the Hippolytus Initiative?

The Hippolytus Initiative is a new ‘Applied Classics’ initiative that aims to use Classics to combat radicalisation by the alt-right and ‘incel’ culture, which frequently use ancient texts and aesthetics to legitimise problematic and hateful ideologies and to reinforce the alt-right pipeline. We firmly believe that it is important to take a proactive stance in tackling this concerning misuse of Classics, and education is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Our Target Audiences

We have chosen to tailor our work around a range of different groups, each with a different specific intention. In the first place, we wish to raise awareness of the issue among Classicists, who may not know the way their discipline is being misused in online spheres. We also want to educate young people regarding ‘incel’ culture, since they are more susceptible to radicalisation by these groups. Creatives, such as theatre practitioners, can help to forge new, progressive narratives from the same ancient materials that have been misappropriated, hence a stream of work with them. And it is also important to inform the general public of the threat of ‘incel’ culture, since it has a damaging and tangible impact on real life, despite being a relatively niche internet subculture.

Our Methodology

Our initiative focuses on education and raising awareness, so our content will primarily take the form of workshops and social media campaigns, specifically catered to our different target audiences.

You can read more about our work and listen to our presentation below.

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