Highlights of 2015-16


Gendering Roman Imperialism
7 - 8 June 2016
Room 349, Senate House

For more than fifty years the standard debates about Roman Imperialism have remained written more or less entirely in terms of male agency, male competition, and male participation. Not only have women been marginalized in these narratives as just so much collateral damage - victims, captives, abandoned wives and mothers - but there has been little engagement with gender history more widely. Discussions of more recent imperialisms and imperial societies are now quite different. The workshop spent two days exploring whether or not the Roman experience, both of Republican expansion and imperial rule, might be rewritten to take account of gendered roles and gendered experience.

Keynote Speakers: Emily Hemelrijk (Amsterdam) and Alison Keith (Toronto)

Commentators: Rebecca Flemming (Cambridge) and Jonathan Prag (Oxford)

Convenors: Hannah.cornwell@sas.ac.uk and greg.woolf@sas.ac.uk

The programme is available here.

J.P. Barron Memorial Lecture
1 June 2016 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House
'What ever happened to the barbarian?'

Thomas Harrison (St Andrews)

Since the publication of prominent works of the 1980s (Edith Hall’s Inventing the Barbarian, or Francois Hartog’s Le miroir d’Hérodote), the role of the barbarian Other in Greek culture has seen a progressive decline.  With some exceptions, more recent accounts have placed emphasis instead on the frequency of contact between Greeks and non-Greeks, on Greek openness to literary and material borrowing from the ‘barbarian’ world, and on the complexity of Greek accounts of foreign peoples, the fluidity of Greek identities.  This lecture tells the story of the barbarian’s decline, and interrogates the reasons for it.  How should the plentiful evidence of Greek-barbarian contact (or of Greek debts to non-Greek culture) be understood alongside the caricatured representations of non-Greek peoples?  And does the decline of the barbarian in fact betray our own discomfort at accepting the ethnocentrism or chauvinism of the Greeks?

Greek, Latin and Digital Philology in a Global Age
ST Lee Professorial Fellow Lectures
Spring 2016

Gregory Crane
Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities
University of Leipzig
Professor of Classics
Winnick Family Chair of Technology and Entrepreneurship
Tufts University

A programme of lectures and events around the UK sponsored by the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Tuesday, May 17, 17:30-19:30, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House 349: “Global Philology, Greco-Roman Studies, and Classics in the 21st Century,” round table with Dr Imre Galambos (Cambridge), Prof. Eleanor Robson (UCL), Dr Sarah Savant (Aga Khan University) and Dr Sam van Schaik (British Library).

Friday, May 20, 16:00-17:30, University of Glasgow, Yudowitz Seminar Room, Wolfson Medical: “Europe, Europeana and the Greco-Roman World.”

Monday, May 23, 13:00-14:00: Oxford University Faculty of Classics, first floor seminar room, Epigraphy Workshop: “What are the possibilities for epigraphic (and papyrological) sources in a digital age?”

Tuesday, May 24, 14:00-16:00, Oxford University: Seminar, Main lecture theatre, Faculty of Classics: “What would a smart edition look like and why should we care?”

Friday, May 27, 12:00-13:30, University of Manchester: Seminar, Samuel Alexander Building A104, “Greek into Arabic, Arabic into Latin, and reinterpretation of what constitutes Western Civilization.”

Tuesday, May 31, 5.30-6.30, Durham University,seminar room, Dept. of Classics and Ancient History “Digital Philology and Greco-Roman Culture as the grand challenge of Reception Studies.”

Friday, June 3, 16:30-18:00, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House 234: “Philological Education and Citizenship in the 21st Century.”

A.D. Trendall Lecture
10 May 2016 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House
'Italic Dionysos in 4th Century BC Apulia'
Thomas Carpenter (Ohio)

Trendall image One of Dale Trendall’s last publications was his important chapter, “On the Divergence of South Italian from Attic Red-figure Vase-painting” in Greek Colonists and Native Populations (Oxford, 1990, 217-230) where his focus was principally on style and shapes. Building on his observations, this lecture examines ways the language of Apulian red-figure imagery differs from Attic. While Apulian non-myth scenes use recognizable Attic conventions, the images often seem to carry symbolic meanings that diverge from the apparent meanings of the Attic models. A recognition of these changes affects our understanding of Dionysiac imagery.
   Most of the Dionysiac scenes on Apulian vases for which we have a provenance come from Italic, not Greek, tombs, and there is evidence that Apulian painters targeted Italic markets with their imagery. Depictions of Dionysiac myths are relatively uncommon; rather, generic scenes predominate. In these generic scenes, more often than not, a naked youth is shown in the presence of satyrs and women who usually carry thyrsoi, tympana, or drinking vessels. Based on Attic parallels, the youth has usually been identified as Dionysos; however, Apulian painters’ use of nudity, satyrs and sympotic equipment raise important questions about this identification and about the meaning Dionysiac scenes may have had for Italic audiences.

T.B.L. Webster Lecture
4 May 2016 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House
'Two reliefs and what they tell us about Athenian comedy'
Eric Csapo (Sydney)

Webster image Two fragmentary reliefs from the Athenian Agora, first published by Webster, constitute our primary evidence for the appearance and performance of the ancient comic chorus. Csapo will reconstruct the monuments from which these fragments were taken and argue that they represent a new form of monument placed, like the tripod monuments for men’s and boys’ lyric choruses, on the Street of the Tripods. The new form is the result of a structural change in the sponsorship of comedy by which the choregoi were no longer appointed by the archon but, like the lyric competitions, by the tribes.

Rome London Lecture
In association with the British School at Rome
9 March 2016 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House
'Grotte Scalina: a new monumental Etruscan tomb near Viterbo'
Vincent Jolivet

Rediscovered at the end of the XXth century, and systematically excavated since 2011, the Etruscan tomb of Grotte Scalina offers an outstanding example of hellenistic rock-cut architecture on the grand scale. The façade - with its two porticated storeys, connected by two staircases, and crowned by a pediment - seems to have been inspired by the propylea of palatial architecture known from Pella and Vergina in Macedonia. The early date of its construction, and the fact that there are no similar monuments in South Italy, suggests direct relationships between Etruria and the Macedonia of Philip II or Alexander the Great. But the great banqueting hall of Grotte Scalina, equipped with six beds, derives, in an unique monumental form, from traditional Etruscan funerary architecture.                                                                                                                                                      Sketch by Alice Lejeune

British School at Athens Autumn Lecture
18 November 2015 at 5pm

Room G22/26, Senate House
'New investigations and finds at the Mycenaean palace of Thebes (Boeotia)'
Vassilis Aravantinos (Ephor Emeritus of Boeotia)

From the outset excavations in Boeotian Thebes aimed to elucidate the city’s most ancient past, echoed in Greek mythology. Early archaeological work demonstrated that a major administrative centre had been established on the Kadmeion hill during the Mycenaean palatial period (1450-1200 BC). However, excavations in the past 30 years, coupled with the study of older finds and comparative evidence from other Mycenaean centres, have yielded major insights into previously unresolved issues. Thus it is now clear that Thebes possessed a fortification wall comprising stone foundations and a mud brick superstructure comparable to those found throughout the Aegean and Hittite worlds. While the absence of monumental tholos tombs, as known from other palatial centres and Boeotian Orchomenos, had long perplexed scholars, the chamber tomb on the Kastelli hill — the largest known and uniquely furnished with figural frescoes —clearly befits the ruler of a powerful centre. The size and extent of the legendary ‘House of Kadmos’ has also generated much debate. Ongoing excavations reveal that widely distributed throughout the Kadmeia are buildings of palatial quality, often decorated with wall-paintings, together with storerooms and workshops containing prestige items, and deposits of Linear B tablets. The central building is estimated to be double the width of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos. Moreover the staggering wealth of finds in situ attest to a thriving palatial centre, destroyed suddenly at the height of its powers, and left substantially unlooted.

A good death?
28 October 2015

How would we wish to die? Modern medicine has for long been focused on extending life and on postponing death as long as possible. But perhaps more attention should be focused on deciding how we wish to spend our last days, on the quality of life rather than its quantity, on accepting death rather than struggling (always in vain in the end) to prevent it. Ancient thinkers lived in very different demographic conditions and yet they too were preoccupied with the nature of the Good Death. Their ideas intersect as well as contrast with, those of specialists in end of life care. Four speakers, two experts on ancient thought, two on modern practice, compared views.
This event was a collaboration between the Institute of Classical Studies and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, a specialist mental health trust based in north London. Its aim was to open up a discussion between public health practitioners and classicists on this common ground. The four short presentations by experts were followed by a debate from the floor.
This event was supported by the John Coffin Memorial Fund and was open to the public.
Speakers: Prof. Andrew Cooper (Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust), Dr Mary Bradbury (British Psychoanalytical Society), Prof. Michael Trapp (KCL), Prof. Eleanor Robson (UCL), chaired by Paul Jenkins, OBE (CEO of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust)

The podcast of the event can be seen here.