Special Events

Rumble Fund Lecture 2020 'A Greek Lady from Persepolis: A statue of Penelope and her Roman sisters'

25 March 2020 at 6.30pm
King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Salvatore Settis, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

fragmentary statue of Penelope

Rumble Fund Lecture in Classical Art 2020, presented by the Centre of Hellenic Studies and the Department of Classics, King's College London in collaboration with The Courtauld Institute of Art and The Institute of Classical Studies

In 1936 a fragmentary statue – a fifth-century BC Greek original, made in marble – was found during American excavations at the Royal Palace of Persepolis. The statue must come from an (unidentified) Greek city: initially, it was considered plunder from some Persian invasion or occupation; more recent research suggests it may have been a diplomatic gift to the Great King. The sculpture has been correctly identified as Penelope, and it compares closely with six Roman copies of the same subject (all of them found in Rome). The quandary, though, is that the Persepolis statue was buried when Alexander the Great burnt down the palace in 336 BC: so how is it possible that copies of it were made in Rome just a few centuries later? The intriguing biography of this Greek lady from Persepolis poses radical questions across the fields of art history, classics and archaeology: about original and copy, about Greek and Persian cultural interactions, about word and image, and not least about style and meaning.


Sheila Kassman Memorial Lecture: 'Aristotle on the anatomy, physiology and psychology of animal locomotion'

10 March 2020 at 5pm
Room G35, Senate House

Christof Rapp, LMU Munich

Aristotle and animals


ICS/BSA Lecture: Sacrificial rituals in the Mycenaean palatial centre of Kydonia (Khania, Crete)

3 October 2019 at 5pm
Room 349, Senate House

Dr Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, Hon. Secretary General, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

Religious image

Kydonia, the most important ancient city in Western Crete, traditionally one of the three cities founded in Crete by Minos, occupied the Kastelli Hill in the centre of the Old Town of Khania. Its name appears on the Knossian Linear B tablets.
On the Kastelli hill, during the 14th c. B.C., a Mycenaean palace had been erected above the ruins of a Minoan palatial centre. On the SW courtyard of the palace, two major kinds of sacrifice were taking place: bloody and bloodless, following a particular ritual. The representations on the Ayia Triada sarcophagus can be considered as a guide to the rites that were conducted in this courtyard, in the same period: bloody animal sacrifices of bulls and wild goats on a table, as well as bloodless offerings on top of an altar.
In the beginning of the 13th c., a sacrifice took place after a catastrophic seismic shock -followed by fire and having the effect of raising the floor in pieces. A large number and a wide range of sacrificial creatures seem to have slaughtered in a public setting as part of an official state ritual of Mycenaean character for such a special occasion. This unique episode seems to be connected with a major phase in the history of the Kydonia palatial centre, as an aftermath to the seismic events of the LM IIIB: early period and had not only religious but social and political significance.
On an intentionally removed section of the destroyed fine floor of the LM IIIB courtyard, a mass of dismembered remains of various animals, with no traces of burning: 43 ovicaprids and wild goats, 4 pigs and 1 bovine, were mingled with scattered human remains of a young female.
Maiden sacrifices are known from ancient Greek mythology and literature, elicited for exceptional circumstances in an attempt by society to confront an extraordinary disaster and these probably go back to Mycenaean times. They were presented as acts of deep obedience and reverence to the divine, as acts of awe and purification, as a kind of negotiation with the supreme powers and not as ferocious and ruthless slaughters. Among them, Iphigeneia, the daughter of Agamemnon, is the most famous sacrificial victim. Now the Kydonia find shows that the core of such legends may refer to a real ritual as the ultimate resolution of a very difficult situation.