From April 5-6th, graduate students in the Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies held the twenty-seventh annual Agnes Michels Lecture. Each year graduate students in classics invite a distinguished scholar of Classics to give a lecture and seminar in celebration of the career of Bryn Mawr College alumna, Agnes Michels (Ph.D. ‘34). This year’s honored guest was Richard P. Martin, Antony and Isabelle Raubitschek Professor in Classics at Stanford University. The event was organized by Classics graduate students Kristen Patterson and Danielle Perry.
Professor Martin delivered the lecture “Panhellenic Poetry, Local Religion: Cults of Zeus in the Iliad” on April 5thto a full audience in Carpenter Library. The talk drew widely on Professor Martin’s distinguished career as a scholar of Homeric religion and classical mythology. The talk looked into the veneration of a local cult object at Chaeronea known as the scepter of Agamemnon. Professor Martin gave an inquiry into ways in which local religious traditions may have interacted with Panhellenic mythological tradition as represented in Homer’s Iliad, where the scepter of Agamemnon features as a thematic object.
On Saturday April 6th, Professor Martin hosted a workshop for all of the Classics graduate students that built of the themes of local and Homeric myth and religion discussed in the Friday lecture. Professor Martin discussed current research directions, including a new project examining cult religion in Homer's Iliad, in particular the mythic tradition around the courtship of Zeus and Hera.
The lecture series is organized in honor of Agnes Kirsopp Michels, who started her career at Bryn Mawr College as an undergraduate, receiving her A.B. in Latin in 1930 continuing to a Ph.D in the same department. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1934, Michels taught at Bryn Mawr until 1975, and was Professor Emerita until her death in 1993. Her doctoral work involved a study of pottery from excavations at Minturnae run by the University of Pennsylvania, but she turned toward Latin poetry thereafter, publishing her book "The Calendar of the Roman Republic" in 1967. Michels was characterized by her passion for research and teaching, being particularly committed to graduate education at Bryn Mawr. Her engagement with classical topics through historical, archaeological, and literary lenses has contributed greatly to our understanding of Roman life and Roman religion. After her passing in 1993, the Agnes Michels Lecture was established and funded to honor her wide-reaching scholarly impact by inviting distinguished scholars to campus who embody these same qualities. Past speakers include Jenny Strauss-Clay, Robert Palmer, Richard Thomas, Gregory Nagy, and Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer.
The success of the event was marked by a lively dinner in Bryn Mawr’s town center. Hosted by the organizers of the Agnes Michel Lecture, Professor Martin was joined by graduate students and faculty of the Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies as a token of appreciation for his visit to the college.