Simon Goldhill informs us (from BMCR)
There are at least three types of reception study in classics.
The first takes a work of the ancient world -- the Aeneid, say or the
Antigone -- and sees how it has been adapted by later artists. It derives its
logic and its focus through a linear genealogy -- a sequence of works descended
from an original text, interrelating with each other.
The second type takes a post-Classical author and sees how this particular
artist works with a classical paradigm -- Dante's antiquity, Wagner's Greeks. It
derives its logic and focus in the vision of a single artist, reading
The third type takes a more general cultural model and explores how classical
antiquity has provided models and inspiration in a time in history or in a genre
or an artistic movement: the Victorians and ancient Greece; modernism and the
classical body. In this case, there is potentially a more diffuse focus and
potentially a wider set of cultural questions.
The specific problem for contemporary reception studies is how these three
models fit together. When looking at the reception of the Antigone (say), how
much can the broader vision of any one artist find a place in the analysis? When
looking at an individual artist, how much can cultural context or the reception
history of a particular text play a part?