Ancient World Seminar 2013

Byzantine Church Door
Byzantine Church Door,
Ancient Agora, Athens (Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

Programme for Semester 2

30 July
Thea Potter
, University of Melbourne

I Am the Boundary of the Agora: The Stone from Horos to Hermes

This thesis explores the theme of boundaries in archaic and classical Athenian society, including boundary stones, the herm, wealth and exchange, and insurgency and occupation. It also explores connections between ancient texts (including Plato, Homer and archaic Greek inscriptions) and 20th-century German philosophy (including Heidegger and Walter Benjamin).

6 August
Hallie Marshall
, University of British Columbia

On What Can Be Said About the Book Trade in 5th-century Athens

The book trade in fifth century Athens is rarely discussed and issues of literacy in classical Athens - and indeed in later periods - generally focus on questions of what portion of the population would have been literate, education and literacy, degrees of literacy and the place and function of writing in Athens. This paper focuses instead on the practicalities of the book trade, bringing to bear a number of economic issues which have serious implications for our understanding of the place and function of books in fifth-century Athens. The issues to be explored include: (1) the physical materials for making books, (2) a labour force to make copies of texts and (3) how Athenians expected go about acquiring texts if they wanted them.

Hallie Rebecca Marshall is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at the University of mbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her primary research interests are in classical reception. She is currently working on a project on the role of classics in the self-fashioning of the Georgian architect Sir John Soane. She recently finished a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Archive of Performance of Greek and Roman Drama at Oxford, during which her research focus was the use of classical material in 18th- and early 19th-century commonplace books. She has published a number of articles on classical reception and English theatre, as well as an article on Aristophanes’ Clouds. She is in Australia for August as an Apollo Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney.

13 August
Aren Maeir
, Bar-Ilan University

New Light on the Philistines and Their Relationship With the Surrounding Levantine Cultures During the Iron Age

Recent excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath have provided a new - and at times revolutionary - understanding of the Iron Age culture of the Philstines and their relationships with other cultures of the Iron Age Levant. These finds - and the understandings deriving from them - often require a complete reassessment of previously accepted research paradigms on various issues relating to Iron Age archaeology of the Southern Levant.

23 August (NB Friday)
Angelos Chaniotis
, IAS, Princeton

Roman Crete (AAIA Guest Seminar)

For many decades, the study of Cretan archaeology and history primarily focused on the early periods: the Minoan and Mycenaean culture of the Bronze Age, the early Iron Age and the Orientalizing period. Roman Crete (c. 67 BC to 300 AD) provides an abundance of archaeological material which allows us to address important historical questions concerning the transformation of economy and society; the relationship between centre and periphery; cultural and artistic interaction with other areas; processes of migration; the re-organisation of landscape and urban space; the integration of Crete into the networks of the Roman Empire.

27 August
Kimberley Webb
, University of Melbourne

Hands and Words: The Illegalities of Caesar: (Non-)Violations of Statutory, Customary and Sacral Law (49-44 BCE)

omitto illa uetera, quod istum [i.e., Caesar] in rem publicam ille aluit, auxit, armauit, ille legibus per uim et contra auspicia ferendis auctor, ille Galliae ulterioris adiunctor.

-Cic. ad Att. 8.3.3.

So Cicero criticises Caesar’s illegalities. Indeed, Caesar is often criticised for paying little attention to legal procedure throughout his political career, and not only by his contemporaries. In an attempt to address the accuracy of this claim, this paper first scrutinises his first consulship of 59, and subsequently focuses on the transformational years 49-44. It will be argued that, through the creative use of new legislation and crafty constitutional devices, Caesar combined a calculated measure of concern for statutory correctness with brazen deviations from customary procedure.

3 September
Monique Webber
, University of Melbourne

Recreating the Past: Imperial Conservation and Restoration Strategies

Accounts of Rome’s Emperors often praise their architectural patronage. We are repeatedly told that the cityscape was restored and conserved, to the delight of the populace. It is clear from the written record that these actions were designed to attract public favour. The intended function of the rejuvenated structures is not, however, as explicit. It cannot be deduced from the texts alone whether buildings, once restored or conserved, were expected to be monuments to the past, to the present, or to both. Combination of literary analysis with visual examination of these imperially patronised buildings reveals coherent and identifiable strategies of conservation and restoration. Utilised by the Emperors in their recreation of the past, these approaches defined the contemporary role of historic buildings.

10 September
Simon Young
, University of Melbourne

The Urban Landscape of Cremna in Pisidia and the arrival of Rome: Expressions of Civic Identity in Public Architecture

The complex interaction between the Hellenised poleis of Asia Minor and the wider Roman Empire is often discussed in terms of the impact on the architectural appearance of these cities. At Cremna in Pisidia, a pre-existing Hellenised city received Roman colonists in the 1st century BC. This presentation will explore the consequences of the arrival of Rome at Cremna and the extent to which this affected the public architecture of the city.

17 September
Rhiannon Evans
, Latrobe University

Putting Gauls in Their Place: Julius Caesar’s Narrative Strategy in the Helvetian War

In book 1 of the Bellum Gallicum, Caesar narrates the war against the Helvetii, which is motivated by the latter’s plans to move west and their ambition to dominate the whole of Gaul: a goal which mirrors Caesar’s own project. This paper considers the Helvetian narrative as a programmatic episode in Caesar’s Gallic war commentaries, and investigates how Caesar represents himself, the Roman army and the Gauls as players moving around Europe. The Helvetian journey is interesting from a narrative point of view, as Caesar tells it twice: from the point of view of an apparently omniscient narrator and through reported speech, revealing alternative versions of the same trip. Parallel to this is the journey of Caesar and his army, which leads to their successful blockade of the Helvetii’s movement; but this in turn is followed by the even more dangerous migration over the Rhine by the Germani. Interweaving all of these journeys Caesar creates a complex sequence of journeys, motives and narrative styles, which serve to differentiate ethnic groups and redraw the map of northern Europe.

24 September
Caroline Tully
, University of Melbourne

Within You and Without You: Enacted and Envisioned Epiphany in Landscape Scenes on Minoan Gold Rings

Minoan epiphany occurs in two different forms: ecstatic and enacted. In ecstatic epiphany, a deity is seen, heard or felt by an individual or group of worshippers. Such an event appears in artistic media, particularly on gold signet rings, as a small hovering human figure, a bird or an object. Performed or enacted epiphany is when a deity is played by a human being who acts within a ritual capacity as the personification of the deity. In Minoan scenes of performed epiphany the epiphanic figure is full size but is often seated – a position suggesting authority. This paper examines examples of both ecstatic and enacted epiphany occurring in the vicinity of trees within rocky landscape on gold rings from the Minoan Neopalatial period (1700-1450 BCE).

8 October
Christopher Dart
, University of Melbourne

Reappraising the Social War (91-88 BCE)

The Social War is of central importance to the history of the late Roman Republic and more broadly to the history of Roman Italy. Modern scholarship, however, has tended to focus upon the role that the war played in the process of so-called 'Italian unification' and has often in consequence undervalued investigation of the actual contemporary context of the war and the military campaigns waged by the Italians. The war is badly documented in ancient literary source material and no one ancient source preserves a detailed and chronological account of the Social War, resulting in frequent disagreements in modern works, even as to the sequence of events and their inter-connections. The present paper, which derives from a forthcoming monograph on the Social War, investigates a number of contentious issues related to the war, including the leadership of the Italians and the message of their brief but rich coinage, which help to shed light on the motives and aspirations of the short-lived Italian insurgency.

15 October
Trudie Fraser
, University of Melbourne

The Other Trajanic (and Hadrianic) Women: What their iconography reveals about the status and lives of Ulpia Marciana, Salonia Matidia and Mindia Matidia

Research into the lives of three generations of imperial ladies, Ulpia Marciana, Salonia Matidia and Mindia Matidia, has been scant, consisting of several brief essays and articles By examining the statues, busts, coins and cameos of these closely related ladies, this paper by uses their iconography to bring them out of the shadows. Ulpia Marciana, sister of the emperor Trajan and her daughter Salonia Matidia played an important role in Trajan’s (and to a certain extent Hadrian’s) household. Both enjoyed the highest honours Rome could offer to ladies of the imperial household: they were granted the title of AUGUSTA which allowed them to have coins minted with their name and portrait. This was not so for Mindia Matidia, Salonia Matidia’s elder daughter and the only sister of Vibia Sabina, Hadrian’s wife. This paper seeks to understand why she was denied this honour and to look at her life and achievements in comparison to her mother and grandmother.

22 October
Sonya Wurster
, University of Melbourne

Making Sense of Fragments: Philodemus’ On the Gods

Philodemus of Gadara’s On the Gods: Book One has received almost no scholarly attention, partly because there is no translation into a modern language and partly because of its fragmentary state. An edition of the text with German commentary was published by Hermann Diels in 1916. However, this version is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, Diels based his text on an earlier edition by Walter Scott without access to the papyri themselves. Secondly, he added great portions of text for which there is no evidence in the extant papyri or disegni (drawings). Now with the aid of multispectral photography it is possible to make much greater sense of the papyri and so I, along with Dr Sue Bunting, are working on a reconstruction, translation and notes of the text. This paper will outline the condition of the papyri and present some of Philodemus’ central arguments on the nature of the gods, discussing how they relate to Epicurus’ teachings. It will also compare and contrast Philodemus' views to those of the much better known De rerum natura.

29 October
Andrew McGowan
, Trinity College

Bloody Religion: The Transformation of Roman Sacrificial Cultus in Early Christian Thought

Although Christians generally did not participate in Roman sacrificial cultus, and sacrifice was used as a mechanism of inquisition and persecution by Roman magistrates, there was also a development of cultic theory in early Christianity, particularly in relation to the Eucharist. The development of such ideas of sacrifice continued but changed Greek and Roman understandings, and would be tied to the decline of literal animal offerings after the fourth century; it also re-theorised sacrifice itself in ways that still have resonance in modern anthropology and sociology. This paper considers examples from the second and third centuries where authors such as Irenaeus and Cyprian engage in competitive and creative re-workings of ancient Mediterranean cultus, on the way to a Christian transformation of sacrifice.

10 December (Turner Theatre, Botany Building)
Andrea Argirides
, University of Melbourne

Saving Cultural Heritage in War Zones: The Case for Afghanistan

This presentation will address the protection of cultural heritage and archaeological sites located in war zones within various theatres of operations in which the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has operated, but specifically for Afghanistan. This is a& topic that is particularly relevant for current and future operational practices for deployed forces. The aim of this presentation is to focus on key points pertaining to Afghanistan with respect to its landscape, history, archaeology and cultural heritage, drawing on my recent 8-month tour of duty in the country. Synonymous with other war zones or places of civil unrest such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, Afghanistan is experiencing its own archaeological and cultural heritage battle wounds. What distinguishes one nation from another is its cultural heritage, its people and its unique landscape. Despite heavy military commitments in Kabul, this deployment also provided an opportunity to witness Afghanistan’s unique cultural landscape, including the Museum in Kabul.

Programme for Semester 1

5 March
Louise Hitchcock
, University of Melbourne

Philpocolypse Now!= Changing the Philistine Narrative at Tell es-Safi/Gath

To be a ‘Philistine’ has entered our language to mean uncouth or barbaric, a perception deeply situated in biblical thought. Just as the Greeks described non-Greek neighbours as ‘Barbarians,’ so too did the Biblical writers describe people settled along the southern coast of the Levant in derogatory terms. Current scholarship regards them as Sea People migrating from Greece (ca. 1180 BC) and colonising the coast of southern Canaan. I will present recent results from the archaeological excavations at the Philistine site at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel), the city associated with Goliath in the Bible. The archaeological remains of the Philistines reveal them to be a culturally mixed group that resulted as an outcome of multiple groups of migrants that settled among the local Canaanite population creating a socially and economically advanced, technologically innovative (iron production), artistically sophisticated (decorated Mycenaean-Greek style pottery) and cosmopolitan culture that positively influenced the surrounding region.

12 March - Postponed

19 March
Mark Hebblewhite
, Macquarie University

Adlocutio: Words from the Emperor, an Act of the Imperator

This paper seeks to examine the practice of adlocutio whereby the Emperor would directly address a segment of the army. Focusing on the period 235-395 CE this paper seeks to understand why the Emperor engaged in this practice, and in particular how it could assist him to maintain the loyalty of his army. It will explore not only the occasions on which an adlocutio was delivered but also the ceremonial aspects of the practice and how these contributed to the effect adlocutiones had on the army.

26 March
Felicity Harley-McGowan
, University of Melbourne

Roman Graffiti and the Evidence for the Depiction of Crucifixion in Late Antiquity

The infamous ‘Alexamenos’ graffito, depicting a young man saluting a donkey-headed figure tied to a cross, is often treated as the earliest representation of a crucified figure in antiquity. Excavated on the Palatine hill in Rome, it is usually dated to the early third century CE. This paper will discuss a second piece of evidence that may pre-date the Palatine image by roughly a century: a graffito excavated in Puteoli, Italy, which depicts a human figure tied to a cross. The style of painting on the wall into which it was scratched, and the content of the Greek and Latin inscriptions with which the graffito appears, mean the image and an accompanying inscription are dated to the beginning of the second century CE. With reference both to contemporary literary descriptions and to later visual evidence for the appearance of a human figure flayed, this paper will argue that the image depicts an eye-witness account of a human victim having been tied to a cross and tortured. As such, it preserves critical evidence both for the practice of crucifixion in the first centuries CE, and for the gradual development of an iconography for the depiction of a crucified victim in Roman and subsequently early Christian art.

9 April
Erica Bexley

To Thine Own Role Be True: Characterization in Senecan Tragedy

Seneca’s characters recognise and evaluate themselves as types; they speak and act in full awareness of their status as dramatis personae. Such non-naturalistic behaviour troubled earlier generations of scholars and prompted T. S. Eliot, among others, to remark that Seneca’s characters seemed to have no private lives. More recent work on the topic reappraises the tragedies’ self-conscious style as a form of intertexuality and metatheatre. According to this latter view, a figure like Seneca’s Medea is conscious of her role because she knows it has a dramatic precedent in Euripides. Neither of these theories, however, pays enough attention to the socio-cultural conditions prevailing in first-century C. E. Rome. Significantly, Romans of the early empire defined individual identity in terms of pre-established public roles; they acknowledged little if any difference between a person and a persona. This paper therefore compares Seneca’s characterisation methods to Stoic theories of personality, to declamation, and to the Roman practice of transforming prominent individuals into exempla. Analysed in this context, Seneca’s characters seem but one instance of a much broader phenomenon that encouraged people to classify themselves according to type.

15 April (Monday, Babel-G03 -Lower Theatrette)
Janice Crowley

Hands and Words: Looking Anew at Gesture in Aegean Art

Discussion of gesture in the art of the Bronze Age Aegean has to date centred on relatively few gestures like the “prayer” gesture with hand to the forehead and the “command” gesture with arm extended holding a staff. Yet, when all the art is examined closely, and particularly the seal designs, it becomes clear that there are other gestures that demand attention. This lecture discusses the nature of the standard gestures, the gesturers and to the circumstances in which they are gesturing. Proposals are made as to the words that may have accompanied the gestures and conclusions drawn on gender and hierarchy in Aegean society.

23 April
William Purchase
, University of Melbourne

Plato and Platonism in Sallust's Proems

“Sallust's proems”, wrote Quintilian, “have nothing to do with history”. Quintilian's claim remains contentious: Sallust's extensive and highly philosophical proems are still the subject of debate - even debate as to whether they are, indeed, philosophical. This paper will first address two issues that have frustrated prior efforts to understand Sallust: the reasons for Roman political philosophy's apparent parochialism, and the problem of how we identify philosophy when we seek for it in Roman authors. It will then be shown how these considerations unlock a new reading of Sallust, by offering a new interpretation of Sallust's "Platonism" in the proems, and showing how Sallust uses citations from Plato in his two monographs.

30 April
Kyle Conrau-Lewis
, University of Melbourne

Family Trees in the Thebaid: The Missing Links

Scholarship has often seen the Thebaid as a pessimistic depiction of genealogy (Davis 1994, Bernstein 2008.) Where epic heroes would normally celebrate their parentage and parade it as a sign of their heroic character (Higbie 1995), the Thebaid repeatedly shows the obverse side: descendants are punished for the crimes of their ancestors and sons inherit the criminal character of their fathers. In the Thebaid, a lineage can be a hazard and even a noble lineage will guarantee nothing. This paper examines the lineages of the seven heroes against Thebes as given in the Thebaid: Adrastus, Polynices, Tydeus, Amphiaraus, Parthenopaeus, Hippomedon and Capaneus. A comparison between the genealogies of all the heroes is revealing. Statius does not consistently deal with the parentage of all his heroes. Statius repeatedly dwells on the paternity of Adrastus, Polynices, Tydeus and Amphiaraus and their heredity defines them. Surprisingly, however, scholarship has not addressed those heroes whose genealogy is only partially complete or else not at all. No paternity is ever given for Parthenopaeus but Statius rather concentrates on his mother, Atalanta. In the case of Hippomedon and Capaneus, no parentage is given at all, though Statius vaguely alludes to them having noble families. So while Scholarship has acknowledged the importance of genealogy in the Thebaid, it has not addressed the significance of those seemingly without a genealogy or with only partial genealogy. This paper seeks to answer why Statius has seemingly omitted genealogies for three of his major heroes.

7 May
Malcolm Anderson
, University of Melbourne

Joshua at the Battle of Jericho and All That: The Impasse in American Biblical Archaeology and William G. Dever’s Solution for Its Reorientation

The ‘Golden Age’ of biblical archaeology under William F. Albright and his students was a welcome diversion for American religious piety after the debacle of the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ in 1925. But their robust defense of biblical historicity - including the Israelite Conquest - came unstuck after the 1950s. The whole approach to scholarship by American archaeologists working in Israel and Jordan needed a revamp if it were to remain academically credible. The career of William G. Dever, the excavator of Gezer, can be interpreted as an attempt to provide a solution to an impasse. The ‘solution’, was a ‘program,’ and it continues to impact current theory and practice in Syro-Palestinian archaeology today.

14 May
Thomas Caldwell
, University of Melbourne

Titus and Mucianus: The Instigator and the Mediator

By AD 69, the two most powerful commanders in the armies of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire were the governors of Judaea and Syria, T. Flavius Vespasianus and C. Licinius Mucianus. Both commanded three Roman legions, numerous auxiliary forces of horse and foot, their own fleets and the support of kings, and both were men of considerable reputation, albeit for different reasons. It was likely in February of 69 that Vespasian, along with Mucianus, recognising the opportunity that had developed in the Western half of the Empire as a result of the conflict between Otho and Vitellius, began to organise their party with a view towards seizing the throne. Yet, it was not until four months later - at the beginning of July, that the legions of Egypt, Judaea and Syria respectively declared in favour of Vespasian’s principate. This paper will examine the lead-up to the proclamation of Vespasian in July with a particular focus on the contributions of both the Syrian legate, Mucianus, as well as of Vespasian’s heir, Titus. It will attempt to determine, among other things, the origins of the Flavian ambitions as well as the manner in which the preparations for Vespasian’s accession were carried out.

21 May
K.O. Chong-Gossard
, University of Melbourne

Teaching Classics from Down Under to North America: Action Research in Latin and Ancient Greek Pedagogy

The study of the Latin and Ancient Greek languages are at the core of Classical Studies. This seminar presents a summary of the findings from a five-month research sabbatical in 2012, during which I visited the classics departments of ten tertiary institutions in New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and Canada. I observed Latin and Ancient Greek classes at all levels and interviewed teaching staff about best practice in ancient language pedagogy. In this presentation, I will discuss what goals students appear to have in learning classical languages, and what their self-admitted strengths and weaknesses are. Some institutions respond uniquely to the challenges which today’s students pose to the teaching of languages at the tertiary level (eg students’ preparedness, living situations, work habits, use of new technology, etc.). I will also report on what language-learning goals classics programs have for their students, how the assessment matches these goals, where and how students in class learn the tasks on which they will be assessed, and how institutions differ in how much beginners and intermediate instruction they deem appropriate or possible. When students are at the level where they read unadapted ancient texts, they respond differently to the traditional method of translating selected passages individually in a tutorial-like setting. Translation itself has different in-class techniques: left to right with an attention to syntax; a 'hunt-and-peck" method based on English word-order (including looking for the verb first, then the subject); and a reading comprehension approach based primarily on vocabulary. Some institutions also use innovative, non-traditional approaches in their classrooms that show success.

28 May
Frederik Vervaet
, University of Melbourne

Beyond the Spectacle: The Dubious Triumphs of Pompeius Magnus

Cn. Pompeius no doubt is one best known Romans and stands as a towering prototype of those powerful and ambitious dynasts that defined the political fate of the Late Republic. Although modern scholarly assessments of Pompeius have varied, the man who famously styled himself 'Magnus', 'the Great', mostly tends to get fairly positive, understanding or even glowing appraisals as a great conqueror and a steadfast and principled Republican. The purpose of this paper is to put matters into perspective by having a careful look beyond the spectacle of Pompeius' triumphant and triumphal record. The intent is certainly not to construe some partizan anti-Pompeian picture in support of some hidden historical agenda. It simply represents an honest attempt at writing history in the spirit of Lucian's recommendation to call "a fig a fig and a trough a trough" and "stating what has been done".