Special Events

Special events in 2017-18

Earthquakes, Etruscan Priests, and Roman Politics in the Age of Cicero

24 January 2018 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House
Dorothy Tarrant Lecture
Anthony Corbeill, Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics, University of Virginia

Anthony Corbeill

In 56 BCE Cicero, orator and statesman, was enjoying his first Roman spring since returning from exile. April brought terrestrial rumblings north of Rome. The senate chose to investigate, enlisting Etruscan diviners to determine their significance. The priestly response was elucidated before the assembled Roman people by Publius Clodius, former tribune and engineer of Cicero's exile. The next day, Cicero offered the senate his reading of the same text in a speech combining harsh personal invective with incisive argumentation about determining divine will through natural phenomena. Cicero’s De haruspicum responsis is unique in providing a contemporary account of how the senate assessed a prodigy, and it offers the only complete text written by a priestly body (here, the Etruscan haruspices). My lecture will address the criteria used by the senate in deciding how natural phenomena might affect the Roman state.

ICS/British School at Athens Lecture

31 October 2017 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House
"Pella, The Great Capital of the Macedonian Kingdom"
Dr. Elisavet Bettina Tsigarida, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the County of Pella


Sixty years of continuous archaeological research have uncovered evidence for many aspects of the life Pella, the second capital of the Macedonian kingdom. The paper will present its history from its origins as a small, coastal city on the NW shore of the Thermaic Gulf, which Archelaos made his capital around the end of the 5th century BC, through its period of glory between the conquests of Alexander and before the Roman defeat of Macedon in 168 BC, until its eventual abandonment around 30 BC. Among the new discoveries are luxurious houses, many named after the famous mosaics that decorated them; the royal palace; and the rapid transformation of the surrounding landscape in the late Classical and the Hellenistic periods.

Why do we need Monsters?

17 October 2017 at 6pm
Beveridge Hall, Senate House
Liz Gloyn (Royal Holloway University of London), Dunstan Lowe (University of Kent), David Wengrow (UCL), Valeria Vitale (ICS)


Today we worry about chimaeras - organisms created by combining genes from more than one species - and science fiction writers imagine bizarre aliens on other planets, just as nineteenth-century novelists placed them in the Centre of the Earth, on Lost Worlds or in Lands that Time Forgot.

Almost every society has imagined monsters, often as hybrids of humans and beasts. This free public event brings together some of the most interesting researchers on ancient monsters and invites us to reflect on what purpose these nearly humans serve in societies ancient and modern.

Supported by the John Coffin Memorial Fund

Further information and booking.

T.B.L. Webster Lecture

27 September 2017 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House
'Tragedy: The Art of Facing Death'
Professor Karen Bassi (University of California at Santa Cruz)

Webster lecture image

My paper begins from the premise that Greek tragedy offers readers and viewers insight into the ethical, political, and social effects of mortal existence. Tragic characters "exist" or "live" as visible and audible humans only for as long as a given play is performed. They are thus the literal embodiment of the Greek metaphor of humans as "creatures that live for a day."  As a result -- and as an expression of what Zygmunt Bauman calls "living with death" -- tragedy anticipates current philosophical debates over the possibility of extending life and the relationship of the death of the individual to the survival of the collective. In selected case studies, I argue that tragedy anticipates and contributes to these debates in both its form and content.