Unless otherwise noted, all Colloquia will take place on Friday afternoons via Zoom, starting at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Please click on the link for the specific talk to pre-register for the Zoom Session. For information call 610-526-5198; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall 2020 Classics Colloquia
Rocki Wentzel, Augustana University
“Technological Humanity in Blade Runner 2049"
Wentzel will be discussing the way that Greco-Roman myth emerges to illuminate ideas of heroism and humanity through the replicant K in Blade Runner 2049. Some of the myths included are those of Pygmalion, Oedipus, and Narcissus.
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Reports from the Field: News from Abroad
Undergraduate and graduate students in the Departments of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Greek, Latin and Classical Studies present their learning experiences away from the College this Friday, September 18, in the Reports from the Field: News From Abroad. Zoom presentations start at 4:30 pm. Reports reflect on learning opportunities, such as study abroad programs and the Hannah Holborn Gray Research Fellowships, internships in museums, art galleries and archives, and online courses. These Reports provide an important chance for the students to assess their experiences and to let other students know what sorts of opportunities may be available to them.
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Lisa Raphals, University of California, Riverside
“Gendered Skill: Chinese and Greek Skill-Knowledge Analogies from Archery and Weaving”
Weaving and archery are strongly gendered skills, and both occur repeatedly in both Chinese and Greek accounts of skill and ethics, especially in skill-knowledge analogies that compare mastery of a skill or craft to the practice or process of acquisition of knowledge, either of a specific skill, or to broad 'skills' of wisdom and ethics. Some analogies liken these skills to various aspects of ethics, wisdom and government. Examine a range of Chinese and Greek analogies and metaphors based on comparison of the mastery, practice, or acquisition of two technical crafts, archery and weaving, and the mastery, practice, or acquisition of wisdom or ethical or political virtue. Archery and weaving are both embodied practices that have strong cultural and even mythological resonances. Each is culturally important in both Chinese and Greek contexts. Both are gendered, and the performance of each is an important aspect of gendered virtue. Skill in archery is primarily attributed to men, while weaving is primarily performed by women. Both are also the basis of powerful metaphors. Finally, analogies to both are used extensively in philosophical argument.
Denise Demetriou, University of California-San Diego
“Living Between Two Worlds: Phoenician Immigrants in Fourth-Century BCE Athens”
This talk focuses on a history of immigrants from Phoenician city-states—Sidon, Asheklon, and Kition on Cyprus—living in Athens in the fourth century BCE. What were the effects of migration on the Phoenician immigrants? What were the effects of migration on Athens? Using a series of bilingual inscriptions, Demetriou shows: first, that Phoenician-speaking immigrants adopted or created practices that allowed them to adapt to migration as individuals; second, that they formed immigrant communities that mediated their interactions with the political authorities of their host state; and, third, that migration led to the construction of new immigrant identities. Together, these three points reveal the adaptive practices and new identities that enabled immigrant integration in the Greek world.
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Theodora Jim, University of Nottingham
“Salvation on Earth: Soteria and Saviour Gods in Ancient Greece”
What did it mean to the ancient Greeks to be ‘saved’, and how did they experience it? Soteria is one of the most important blessings in the relationship between men and gods. It is sought from the gods in circumstances ranging from warfare to seafaring, childbirth, healing, farming, earthquakes and so on. Contrary to what we may expect from the Christian eschatological sense of ‘salvation’, it is striking that Greek soteria and ‘saviours’ gods were almost always concerned with deliverance and well-being in this world rather than the next. Combining close analysis of epigraphic and archaeological evidence, this talk will explore the multivalent power of these ‘saviour’ gods and the different values attached to soteria. The evidence challenges us to rethink what we think we know about this Greek concept, and to recognize the importance of ‘salvation’ on earth.
Christelle Fischer-Bovet, University of Southern California
“The Power of Statues: Constructing Imperial Narratives in Ptolemaic Egypt”
The power of statues in shaping our memory of the past has been and is now perhaps more than ever at the center of public attention and political discourse. Narratives about removing or returning statues can take multiple meanings depending on the historical context. This talk examines how the Ptolemies—the successors of Alexander in Egypt (323-30 BC)—by orchestrating the return of Egyptian statues and objects (supposedly) stolen by the Persians to Egypt, engaged with the cultural memory of different population groups: Egyptian priests, Greco-Macedonian elites, Egyptian population. They were reshaping memories hostile to the successive Near Eastern empires and adapting them to a new context, while at the same time constructing Egypt as the new imperial center.
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Patricia Eunji Kim, New York University
“Making the Queenly Body in the Hellenistic World”
If male nudity was a costume in Greek art, how did royal women throughout the Hellenistic ‘wear the female body’ in their representations? In this talk, Kim discusses the ways that the Ptolemaic queen’s body was both conceptually and physically made for diverse, public audiences to see. Building on important conversations around fusion, hybridity, and cross-cultural entanglements in Hellenistic-period visual and material culture, Kim turns her focus to the stakes of the Ptolemaic queen’s body in dynastic and imperial politics.
Aimee Genova, Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University
“The Heraklion Archaeological Museum and What Never Came To Be: The Venetian Loggia and its Abandoned Plans”
What can the abandoned original plans of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum tell us about the history of Cretan archaeology? Built ca. 1620s by Francesco Morosini, the Venetian Loggia stands today as the Municipal Town Hall of Heraklion, but it was once slated to house precious historical artifacts as the location of the archaeological museum in Heraklion. While the Venetian Loggia never became the archaeological museum that some Cretan archaeologists hoped for, local Cretans built upon networks they had forged with foreign agents to eventually develop an internationally renowned museum elsewhere in Heraklion. Using archival collections from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum (AMH), this talk places the Loggia’s complicated history within the systems of archaeological networks that emerged as a consequence of the political situation of Crete during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Maggie Popkin, Case Western Reserve University
“Imagining the Roman Empire Through Its Souvenirs”
Souvenirs and memorabilia of places, people, and spectacles abound from the Roman Empire. Although often overlooked, ancient souvenirs offer indispensable evidence of the experiences, interests, and aspirations of a broader range of Romans than we can access through literary accounts alone. This talk examines how souvenirs constructed imagined cultural affinities around the empire among its heterogeneous population. At the same time, however, souvenirs strengthened local and regional identities and excluded certain groups from the social participation they afforded so many others, thereby reifying social power structures. Finally, Popkin explores how souvenirs, which connected people around the empire without the direct intervention of Rome, cause us to rethink the place of the city of Rome in the popular imagination of the empire's residents.
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The Agnes Michels Lecture, sponsored by the Graduate Students in the Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies
Frederick Ahl, Cornell University
“The Case of the Trojan Tower: Seneca Solves a Virgilian Mystery”
“In Aeneid 2. 451-468, in a narrative evoking a famous passage in Iliad 6, Aeneas claims to have destroyed, during the sack of Troy, a tower overlooking a precipitous drop situated in Priam’s palace complex. Andromache used to drag (trahebat: 357) her son Astyanax there, he notes, to watch the fighting. In Seneca’s Trojan Women (1068-1103), however, in a passage echoing and modifying Euripides Trojan Women 725-739, a messenger says the tower, where Priam, with Astyanax in his lap, used to oversee the fighting was the only tower still standing after the sack of Troy. From its top, he says, Astyanax leaped on his death, foiling those who, in other traditions, were intent to throw him down. Why, then, does Virgil’s Aeneas claim that he, a Trojan, had destroyed this famous Trojan tower before Troy fell and before Astyanax died?”
Douglas Cairns, University of Edinburgh
“Homer, Aristotle, and the Nature of Compassion”
This paper explores aspects of pity or compassion in Homer (especially Iliad 24) and Aristotle (especially the Rhetoric). Of the cluster of terms that refer to compassionate responses to others’ suffering, it is eleos that looms largest not only in Greek literature (e.g. Homer) but also in Greek literary and rhetorical theory (e.g. Aristotle). Indeed, eleos is perhaps the most salient among all the emotions to which Greek literature appeals, just as it is in ancient literary theory. Literature (broadly conceived) provides our best evidence for the dynamics of ancient Greek eleos, at it does for most emotions – it regularly gives us their eliciting conditions, the appraisals and evaluations that they entail, their phenomenology, their symptoms and expressions, and the characteristic patterns of behaviour with which they are associated. Literary/rhetorical theory both generalizes from and informs literary/rhetorical practice, and in the particular case of eleos raises some of the questions that we shall need to answer if we are to understand the concept. This paper is not a lexicographic study but looks also at other terms from the same general Wortfeld as eleos, examining the phenomena of compassion as well as the ways in which they are labelled and conceptualized.
“Intrepid Women Travelers in Greece”
Women have created a subgenre of Greek travel literature. Authors have included a nineteenth-century British composer, a Greek-American novelist, and a contemporary American poet. Two remarkable Bryn Mawr alumnae—Eva Palmer Sikelianos and Doreen Canaday Spitzer—also inspired books, both academic and personal, that draw on their love of Greek drama and archeology. The author of Greek to Me, Mary Norris, will dig into the question of who among women gets to travel and who among women travelers pulls a book out of her experience.