Special Events

Mobility, Technology, and Cultural Transfer in Ancient Italy: From Montelius, through Trendall, to Today

A. D. Trendall Lecture

26 June 2019 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House

Franco de Angelis, University of British Columbia


In the almost quarter-century since the passing of Arthur Dale Trendall, much has changed in the study of the archaeology and history of ancient Italy and the western Mediterranean as a whole. Many new data have emerged, and their retrieval and interpretation have been enriched by new methodological and theoretical approaches. In this talk, I highlight three themes important to Trendall’s research—mobility, technology, and cultural transfer. Any discussion of these matters for ancient Italy cannot occur in isolation, and must be situated within the larger framework first established by Oscar Montelius in the late 19th century to explain the development of societies and economies across time and space. I assess the differences between then and now using this Apulian red-figure situla to launch my discussion. My overall aim is to rethink how we might today envisage mobility, technology, and cultural transfer in the context of ancient Greek Italy. The argument will draw on particular case studies involving some of the themes central to Trendall’s own research, as well as other cultural transfers related to them.

Image: Apulian Red-Figure Situla by the Lycurgus Painter (c. 360-340 BC) from Ruvo, Southern Italy. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Accession no. 56.171.64).


“Aquí fue Troia nobles caballeros:” Intertextuality in Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá’s 'Historia de la Nueva México'

Dorothy Tarrant Lecture

13 May 2019 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House

Margaret Malamud, New Mexico State University

de Onate

I am currently extending my reach in the reception of antiquity in the United States to include a study of an epic poem about the founding of what is today the state of New Mexico. In 1610, Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá completed a remarkable hybrid epic written in hendecasyllabic verse, 'Historia de la Nueva México', an account of the conquistador Don Juan Oñate’s preparations for and colonization of territory at the northern edge of the Spanish empire, from 1595 through 1599. Villagrá was a captain in Oñate’s army, and a participant in events the poem narrates. The first half of the poem describes the arduous journey to Nueva México and the establishment of a colony. The second half of the poem chronicles the savage destruction of the Acoma pueblo, a pueblo that resisted Spanish demands for resources. Looking around at the masses of bodies after the bloody final battle, Villagrá has one of the Spanish warriors say “Aquí fue Troia nobles caballeros.” This was by no means the first classical reference in this poem—the epic opens with Villagrá calling Oñate an Aeneas and a Christian Achilles, immediately anchoring his text with Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad. Indeed, the epic is saturated with intertextual allusions to Virgil, Homer, and Lucan. What can an understanding of the Homeric, Virgilian and Lucanian references bring to us as readers of this early modern epic about early Spanish New Mexico? My paper will also answer the question, why did vandals amputate the right foot of a statue of Oñate in Alcalde, New Mexico in 1998?


Forming/Informing the modern world? The role of classical scholarship

J. P. Barron Memorial Lecture

8 May 2019 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House

Charlotte Roueché, ICS/KCL

Gertrude Bell et al

This year marks the centenary of the Peace Conference held in Paris over many months to establish a new world order in the aftermath of the First World War. Those attending the conference were not only statesmen and civil servants, but also academics and intellectuals, unembarrassed to play a role in public affairs. Many of them were classical scholars - something which seems surprising to us now; the aim of this lecture is to tell the story of several such individuals, and also to consider how the scholars of today can - and should - contribute to current public discourse.


What is Plato’s Republic About? Towards a Theory of Resilience

Dorothy Tarrant Lecture

13 March 2019 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House

Sara Monoson, Northwestern University

Canova: Socrates

The series of vivid, discrete episodes of an intellectual journey that shape the Republic invite readers to look at its distinct elements severed from their place in the big argument in which each element plays a part. Unsurprisingly, cherry-picked pieces of the long argument of the Republic have long captured focused scholarly attention as well as popular imaginations – for example, the three parts of the soul, myth of the metals, theory of forms, allegory of the cave, ship of state, account of the tyrannical soul. But the text also explicitly urges readers to steel their nerves, harness their strengths and exhibit some stamina so as to persevere through the twists, turns, oddities, frights, heft and sheer length of the Republic and thus to engage with the construction of the arc of the argument of the text as a whole. What is this long argument about? The short answer is many things—and that this is one reason the text unceasingly rewards examination. In this lecture, I illuminate a layer of meaning that stitches the arc together that has been lost to us for too long—its sustained attention to the psychological challenges faced by combat soldiers and a society at war or poised to be. Consider that it is an uncontroversial fact that the guardians from whose ranks philosophers arise in the ideal city are, by profession, combat soldiers. This lecture will propose that among the things this text is about we must include the human capacity for resilience and an account of its political and philosophical significance.

Image: A. Canova, 1797. "Socrates Saving Alcibiades at Potidaea."


Paestum: what new excavations and scientific analysis tell us about a Greek city in Italy

ICS/British School at Rome Lecture

26 February 2019 at 5pm
Room G22/26, Senate House

Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director of the Archaeological Park of Paestum

Aerial view of Paestum

The three Doric temples of Paestum have been at the center of archaeological research since the 18th century, when artists, writers and scholars "rediscovered" the site about a 100 kilometres south of Naples. However, there are still many lacunae in our knowledge about the people who lived in Paestum and built the temples. New excavations and archaeometric analysis carried out by the Archaeological Park of Paestum together with partners from Italy and abroad shed new light on a series of questions: what was daily life like in a Greek colonial city like Paestum, and how did the construction of the temples interact with the local community and their environment?


Public engagement workshop in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University

Saturday, January 12th 2019, 10am-6.30pm

Please note that this event is being held in Manchester (at the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, BS 4.06 and G35, Manchester M15 6BH)

Full details of the event and booking arrangements.


Thessaloniki, a Metro-polis through the centuries

ICS and the British School at Athens Lecture

28 November 2018 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House

Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, Director General of Antiquities, Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports


photograph by Orestis Kourakis

During excavations of the Metropolitan Railway in modern Thessaloniki, significant antiquities were discovered on the site of seven new stations. These include a previous unknown town, the Roman-period cemetery of a rich village, and many burials in the eastern and western necropolis of ancient Thessaloniki. Excavations in two stations, in the heart of the ancient and modern city, have revealed the central marble avenue (the “decumanus maximus”) and the vertical streets (the “cardines”), two huge ellipsoid squares, and in addition shops, luxury residences and public buildings. Together these discoveries transform our understanding of ancient Thessaloniki from antiquity to the Byzantine Empire. 

Dr Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, Archaeologist/Theatrologist was Director of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki from 2006 to 2018 and director of the Thessaloniki Ephorate of Antiquities since 2017-18. She is Professor at the Greek Open University and International Hellenic University, visiting professor at universities in Europe and the US. She has conducted numerous excavations in Central and Western Macedonia (Hellas), organized or participated in more than 145 museum exhibitions, has published 155 papers in journals, 8 monographs and has edited 70 publications. Since July 2018 she has been Director General of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport. Along with archaeology she deals with theatre, literature and painting.


Weaving Women's Stories (Being Human Festival 2018)

16-17 November 2018
St Margaret's House, Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PL

Woman weaving

Full details of the series of events and booking arrangements.


Brecht and Greek tragedy: radicalism, traditionalism, eristics

T.B.L. Webster Lecture

14 November 2018 at 5pm
The Court Room, Senate House

Martin Revermann, University of Toronto

Brecht illustration

Brecht always considered Greek tragedy, and the kind of drama which in his perception Greek tragedy so prominently exemplified, as deeply problematic, politically naive and artistically flawed. These radical eristics of reception, so to speak, are in stark contrast to the philhellenism which traditionally informs responses to Greek tragedy. Brecht nonetheless very much needed Greek tragedy, and Tragedy in general, as an art form to engage with polemically, and the relationship between the two can be described as both dialogical and dialectical: without Greek tragedy as a target and an anti-model to work against Brechtian drama would lack a vital means of creating its own artistic autonomy and uniqueness.
This lecture will discuss key moments of Brecht’s complex and often stimulatingly idiosyncratic engagement with Greek tragedy: his 1948-adaptation of Sophocles’ 'Antigone' (Brecht’s play, his production in Chur/Switzerland and the subsequent ‘model book’), his theoretical treatise 'Small Organon for the Theatre' as well as what I call ‘functional equivalences’ (like the use of masks, the nature of chronotopes, the use of choruses, closural techniques or the representation of divinity).


Ancient Magic

31 October 2018, 6pm - 8pm
Beveridge Hall, Senate House


Since ancient times humans have used magic to curse and protect, to harm and heal, to divine and constrain. Join us to explore the mystical objects and potent rituals of our magical past in this free Hallowe’en event. Expert talks from academics and an author will be followed by the opportunity to participate in a range of hands-on activities exploring ancient magic – from making your own curse tablets and poppets to divining the future and turning humans into beasts.

Further information and booking details