Ancient World Seminar 2023

Trajan's Column, Rome
(Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

2023 Programme

20 March

Madaline Harris-Schober, The University of Melbourne

Ritual Architecture, Material Culture and Practice of the Philistines

The Philistines have long been an elusive group of seafarers who appear in the Southern Levant ca. 1200 BCE. This study focuses on the identification of ritual and cult-related architecture, material finds and practices of the Philistines and their neighbours through the application of comparative analysis and a reassessment of legacy data. The archaeological dataset of the Philistines is rich and important, allowing for a multi-scaled perspective and understanding of migrant group(s) becoming entangled in indigenous populations and undergoing subtle cultural transformation. This research aims to present a new way of viewing the ritual architecture of Philistia and the wider Eastern Mediterranean.

Madaline is an Archaeologist and dual PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne and Ludwig Maximillian Universität München researching Philistine ritual architecture and its wider connections. Madaline has previously worked as part of the JVRP (Jezreel Valley Regional Project) at the site of Legio, the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and the Tell Akko 'Total Archaeology' Project. Madaline's overseas research was funded by the Jessie Webb, the Alma Hansen and the Norman McGeorge scholarships.

This talk is also part of the Jessie Webb, the Alma Hansen and the Norman McGeorge scholarship completion requirement.

27 March

Tilmann Gaitzsch, University of Leipzig

Urban Society and Ideal Community: Strategies of Establishing Jerusalemite Identity in 2Sam 24 and 1Chr 21

The story of the plague in Israel in 2Sam 24 and its retelling in 1Chr 21 are two of the most insightful regarding the conception of urban structures in both Iron-Age Judah and Persian Jehud. Both versions describe the establishment of activities typical for urban structures: Administration (census) and cultic practice (sacrifice). However, the most important element of both accounts is the shared experience of (deliverance from) a catastrophic epidemic. This catastrophe is inextricably intertwined with the foundation of the urban community. The texts can therefore be understood both as literary descriptions of urbanisation processes dated back to the Iron I and as a reflection of the ideas and ideals that their respective authors had on urban identity and lifestyle.

I will focus on the question how the author used the Iron-Age cult legend, handed to him through the Deuteronomic History, to describe an ideal urban community against a Persian background and how the iron age urban society of Jerusalem became a point of constant reference for the concept of any urban society with enormous and lasting influence both on the city itself and on a global level.

Tilmann Gaitzsch is a PhD Student at the University of Leipzig currently working at the University of Tel Aviv. From 2014 till 2020 he studied Theology at the Universities of Leipzig, Thessaloniki and Zurich. He is now working on his PhD thesis on the role of epidemics in the Hebrew Bible, especially in 2Sam 24/1Chr 21, and in ancient near eastern societies. His main area of interest is the connections between ancient Israel and the Mediterranean realms and cultures and their respective literatures.

3 April

Lambros Tapinos, University of Melbourne

Minoan Frescoes and Heterotopia: Creating Ritual Spaces and Visual Language at Mari, Alalakh, Tel Kabri

This paper explores the meaning and function of the Minoan decorative motifs painted at Mari and fresco paintings discovered at Alalakh and Tel Kabri proposing that rulers sought craftspeople from the Aegean to decorate palatial spaces where elites gathered for ritual ceremonies and diacritical feasting. Erwin Panofsky’s iconological approach is used to contextually interpret iconographic elements and read the visual language which aligns with palace rituals and sacred kingship ideology. The iconographic elements are juxtaposed with comparanda from the Aegean and Near Eastern repertoires while syntax and semantic relationships reveal the iconography was imbued with religious meaning over time and space but acculturated to the needs of the receiving culture. The paper investigates how fresco paintings contributed to architectural space and ritual activities occurring in the rooms they decorated, investigating in particular, how ritual spaces were conceived and structured by ruling elites and how participants might have perceived and experienced them. The paper also considers cross-cultural interactions and agency concluding the paintings were not just desired exotica for the enhancement of elite identities but also had religious meanings and functions. The lime plaster technology was considered to be manufactured with esoteric knowledge from distant Crete under the patronage of a deity while the religious iconography created illusions of other worlds, creating in the palace heterotopic spaces that supported ceremonial rituals and divine feasting.

Lambros Tapinos is a graduate researcher commencing the PhD program at The University of Melbourne (2023) after completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Advance) within the Discipline of Classics and Archaeology in 2022. Previously, Lambros completed a Masters' Degree in Ancient History at Macquarie University (2016).

17 April

Lieve Donnellan, University of Melbourne

The Urban Architecture Survey at Haliartos (Boeotia): Revisiting Greek Urban Architecture and Urbanism

A recent research project in Haliartos (Boeotia, Greece) aims at studying the visible standing architectural remains intra muros. After the destruction by the Romans in 171BC, Haliartos was not reoccupied in a significant manner, and thus, the preservation of the remains is excellent. Using a series of interdisciplinary methods, the architectural remains could be studied in detail. A selection of the most important discoveries will be presented along with some reflections on methodologies for conducting urban architecture surveys. Moreover, the preliminary research results at Haliartos do not just inform us about local building practices, but also invite us to rethink some of the current concepts of ancient Greek urbanism.

On July 1st 2020, Lieve Donnellan joined the department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. She was previously Assistant Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Aarhus (Denmark). After graduating from Ghent University in 2012, she held various postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Chicago, the Georg-August University in Göttingen and the Free University in Amsterdam. Lieve Donnellan's main research interests are the Greek "colonisation" of Southern Italy and the Black Sea, urbanisation and urban architecture, the ancient economy and the application of network theory in archaeology. Lieve currently conducts fieldwork in Greece (Haliartos, Boeotia) and in Italy, in the Plain of Gioia Tauro (Calabria). She was the recipient of various awards and scholarships, from the Belgian Historical Institute in Rome (2006, 2008, 2012), the 'Ecole Française d'Athènes (2011), the Belgian-American Educational Foundation (2013), the Dorothea Schlözer Fellowship from the Georg-August Universität Göttingen (2014), a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship (2016). She was awarded the BaBesch Award from the Byvanck Foundation in Leiden in 2011.

8 May

Tim Parkin, University of Melbourne

Investigating Domestic Violence in the Roman World

In this talk I shall discuss some questions and ideas that I am currently grappling with as part of an emerging project on domestic violence in antiquity - a shared endeavour with colleagues at the University of Sydney, among others. My aim in this talk is to present our current framework for the project: the topics we are trying to explore, including intimate partner violence, generational abuse, and coercive control within the domestic sphere, not just between partners and between parents and children, but also, for example, between enslaved and enslavers. I shall also talk about one aspect I am focussing on (one perhaps less obvious in this context), namely elder abuse in antiquity. Among the issues I hope to raise for discussion are both the nature of the evidence and problems of terminology, ancient and modern.

Please be aware that, of necessity, we are dealing with very difficult and sensitive topics in this seminar.

Tim Parkin joined the Classics & Archaeology department at the University of Melbourne in 2018 as the inaugural Elizabeth & James Tatoulis Chair in Classics. Before this he had spent over eleven years as Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester (UK). He is a New Zealander by birth who was awarded a D.Phil. at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and who, since 1989, has worked in universities in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Tim's teaching covers both ancient history and classical languages. His main research is in Roman social, cultural, legal, and demographic history. Among his major publications are Demography and Roman Society (1992), Old Age in the Roman World (2003), Roman Social History (2007), and The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World (2014). He is now working on a book on ancient sexual health, in particular sexually transmitted diseases, as well as completing a six-volume world history of ageing. He is currently serving as Deputy Head of the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies and as the Deputy Associate Dean (DAD) of Arts - Partnerships & Engagement - at the University of Melbourne.

15 May

Ash Green and Andrew Turner, University of Melbourne

Annus mirabilis: 1887 and the Popularization of the Classics in Melbourne

The year 1887 saw two major events which presented the classical past on stage to the people of ‘Marvellous Melbourne.’

In April, college students performed Plautus’ Aulularia in support of a funding drive for the first women’s residential college at the University of Melbourne. Aulularia lacks an ending in the manuscript tradition, and so the new professor of classical philology, Thomas Tucker, provided an ending to the play which received critical acclaim. The text which was performed before an elite audience also contained significant alterations to appeal to Victorian sensibilities, which will be discussed in the first part of the presentation.

At the other end of the spectrum, there was James Pain’s pyrodrama, The Last Days of Pompeii, which was performed from October and throughout the summer season to crowds of tens of thousands in the open air near the Yarra River. Through a combination of elaborate sets, costumed actors, musicians, and electrical illumination, Pain brought the city of Pompeii to life for the people of Melbourne before simulating its destruction by the eruption of Vesuvius through a dazzling fireworks display. This was a play for ‘People with the big P’ and forms a powerful contrast with the Aulularia, allowing us to explore how social dynamics affected the reception of classics in 19th-century colonial Australia.

Dr Ash Green is a recent graduate of The University of Melbourne. Her principal research is concerned with birds in Roman life and myth, and what the study of human/animal relations can reveal about cultures and societies both past and present. As well, in 2022 she was awarded a Charles La Trobe fellowship with a project which investigated the planning and construction of the first purpose-built penal and psychiatric institutions in the Port Phillip District and colony of Victoria. She now teaches at the University in the Ancient World Studies programme.

Dr Andrew Turner teaches in the Latin Language programme at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the reception of Latin literature in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and he has worked extensively on the playwrights Terence and Seneca.

18 May

Lieve van Hoof, University of Ghent

Libanius, For the Prisoners (Oration 45): An Extraordinary Speech for Social Justice

In A.D. 386, the orator Libanius composed a speech “For the prisoners” (Oration 45), in which he drew the emperor Theodosius’ attention to the appalling circumstances in which prisoners were being kept in Antioch. Whilst a few scholars have discussed what this text can teach us about Libanius’ views on prisons, his references to legislation concerning emprisonment, prison architecture, and Antiochene society, this paper is the first to draw explicit attention to the oration’s exceptional nature. It does so by offering an analysis of the text as well as by placing it against the context of Greek rhetoric in Late Antiquity. Finally, the paper also discusses the reasons why Libanius decided to take up the cause of the prisoners in this extraordinary way.

Lieve Van Hoof is a Full Professor of Classics & Ancient History at Ghent University, Belgium. Trained as a classicist (PhD KU Leuven, 2006), historian and political scientist, she currently studies late antique Greek and Latin letter collections in order to shed light on lobbying in the later Roman Empire. Her publications include a monograph on Plutarch’s Practical Ethics (OUP, 2010), an edited volume on Libanius (CUP, 2014), and a co-authored Translated Texts for Historians volume on Jordanes’ Romana and Getica (Liverpool UP, 2020, with P. Van Nuffelen). She was formerly co-president of the Young Academy of Belgium, and is currently also Professor Extraordinary at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

22 May

Christopher Greenough, Tom Keep, Emily Simons

National Archaeology Week

31 July

Christopher Parkinson, University of Melbourne

Apuleius'  Metamorphoses and the Ethics of Food

Despite the prolific depiction of food within Apuleius' Metamorphoses, very little scholarship exists on this topic. Considering the author's background as a Platonic philosopher, this talk will discuss the role of food within the Metamorphoses' didactic ethics.  This process will connect evidence from the text along with scholarship on philosophy, the ethics of food, and the biography of the author and will aim to explore whether this depiction of food can be mapped onto a system of philosophical ethics.

Christopher Parkinson is in his second year as a part time PhD candidate in the Classics Department here at the University of Melbourne. He completed his undergraduate degree at Emory University with honours in Classic 2014, and completed two masters degrees at Tufts University (in Classics and in Education), graduating in 2017.  Since then he immigrated to Australia and has been teaching Latin and Ancient History at the secondary level; he is currently the Deputy Head of Latin at Haileybury. His research interests include the cultural depictions of food in the ancient world, ethnobotany and the role of drugs in classical societies, and portrayals of trauma in ancient literature.

7 August

Ashley Bacchi, Starr King School for the Ministry

The Hellenistic Mediterranean world was home to powerful queens in the Ptolemaic, Attalid, and Seleucid dynasties who were visible to their people in coins, dedicatory inscriptions, temple art, and statues, creating a cultural milieu that fostered a wider call for feminine representation in a range of media. There is a rich assortment of evidence for the varied experience of women and power in the Hellenistic age that challenges metanarratives of gender performance and expectation in the ancient world. Modern scholarship has started acknowledging the power of Hellenistic queens, but most queens are still not represented in most publicly accessible resources. Exploring Hellenistic kingdoms and depictions of their queens opens a discussion of how religion was intertwined into all aspects of society and politics. Students can consider the impact of a landscape that is full of representations of the feminine divine and female leaders, often depicted as one and the same. Focusing on theoretical and interdisciplinary methodological approaches to women and conceptions of gender across the ancient Mediterranean, we will examine the impact of post-Enlightenment models of gender and the body on the reception of ancient Mediterranean art and literature. Exploring modern theories to analyze ancient Mediterranean sources to identify previously held suppositions we will re-evaluate their standing and investigate how intersectional feminist approaches can be applied to challenge previous assumptions that pose a hindrance in fully acknowledging feminine divine power that does not fit modern gender expectations. Hellenistic goddesses, queens, & prophetesses still have the power to influence cultural awareness by changing the meta-narrative about women and power and reclaiming their place in history and the cultural imagination. We can envision possibilities for the future by reflecting on the past.

Ashley L. Bacchi, PhD, is the Assistant Professor of Jewish History and Ancient Mediterranean Religions at Starr King School for the Ministry. Her research focuses on issues related to women's studies, gender, sexuality, myth, politics, and questions related to social justice in the ancient Mediterranean. Bacchi has cultivated an interdisciplinary approach to contextualizing the Hellenistic Mediterranean, which includes religious studies, classics, art history, archaeology, cultural history, literary theory, and intersectional feminist theory. This approach is exemplified in her award-winning book Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles: Gender, Intertextuality, & Politics (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

14 August

Dan Crowley and Leo Palmer, The University of Melbourne

1. Plupast: How do Herodotus’ Characters Understand their Place in History?
2. Athenian Democracy in Context: Solon to Pericles

21 August

Dan Zhao,  Cambridge University and Ash Green, University of Melbourne

Ominous Birds and State Politics: Owls in Rome and China

In ancient Rome, birds were among the foremost signs by which the gods communicated their assent or displeasure, with owls furnishing the strongest of all the negative omens. Similarly, in Early Imperial China (particularly the Han dynasty, 206 BCE-220CE), owls were also viewed as evil birds par excellence whose appearance could spell doom for individual households or even the state. Taking the natural behaviour and appearance of owls as a starting point for investigation, this paper will assemble some of the most important literature on owls to devise a rationale for their inauspicious reputations. However, although real ornithological phenomena could explain why the Romans and the Chinese disliked owls, it does not adequately explain why owls were assigned such negative significance in both cultures, to the point that owl omens could affect the machinations of state.

Through a comparative investigation of these distinct and separate cultures, this paper will argue that we can pinpoint the common causes for why owls were assigned this ominous significance. Both cultures considered owls to be unfilial, barbaric, and feminine, allowing us to link such portrayals to shared similarities in Roman and Chinese values and their socio-political structures. Through comparing and contrasting Roman and Chinese portrayals of owls, we can see how these cultures used ominous birds to reveal, consciously or subconsciously, their attitudes toward their own socio-political structures and worldviews.

Dan Zhao completed his MA at the University of Melbourne in Sino-Roman comparative history, focusing on how foreigners and ‘barbarians’ were portrayed in early imperial propaganda. He is now in the final year of his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he is working on the politics of slavery and freeing slaves in the Late Roman Republic and Early Empire. He recently authored the chapter on ‘Persecution, Oppression, and Subjection’ in the upcoming volume, Cultural History of Violence in Antiquity, edited by Fiona McHardy.

Dr Ash Green is a recent graduate of The University of Melbourne. She focuses on human-animal studies in the ancient world and is the author of the book Birds in Roman Life and Myth. In 2022, she was a Virtual Fellow for the Centre of the History of Emotions and a La Trobe fellow of the State Library of Victoria, where she pursued a project on local Melbourne history. She now teaches at the University in the Ancient World Studies programme.

28 August

Ron Ridley, The University of Melbourne

Tutankhamun’s Centenary

On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter (1874-1939) discovered the tomb of Tuankhamun (KV 62), one of the last pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The excavations were being funded by George Herbert, fifth earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923). The next ten years were devoted to making a complete record of every single item in the tomb, and removing them to Cairo, leaving only the sarcophagus and the body of the young king in the tomb. This discovery had enormous repercussions on the management of antiquities in Egypt. But alongside Carter and Carnarvon, whose names are famous, was a whole team of forgotten experts, without whom the work would not have been possible. This centenary seminar is to celebrate them.

After three years as foundation Teaching Fellow in History in Sydney, I came to the School of History in Melbourne in 1965. I retired from a Personal Chair in 2005. As well as DLitt from Melbourne (1992), I am also DLitt (h.c.) from Macquarie (2017). I am the author of  twenty-five books, including a biography of Tutankhamun’s father, Akhenaten, and  more than 120 chapters and articles. My main interests are the history and history of archaeology in both Egypt and Rome, and the history of historiography. In 2019 I was the first Australian to be awarded the Princess Daria Borghese gold medal for contributions to the history of Rome, and last year I was made an honorary Italian citizen for the same reason.

4 September

Katherine Kraus, Australian Catholic University

Receiving Ovid in the Anthologia Salmasiana

This paper will look at the reception of Ovid in the Anthologia Salmasiana, an excerpt of a larger poetic anthology believed to be compiled in the 6th century CE. Previous work on the Anthologia Salmasiana has tended to focus on individual poems or collections of poems, especially those which can be securely dated to Vandal North Africa, the likely place of origin of the lost original anthology. This paper will take a different approach and argue that the Anthologia Salmasiana deserves to be studied as a cultural artefact of Late Antiquity in its own right. It will use the presence of Ovid in the collection as a test case to demonstrate both the Anthologia's attention to crafting a cohesive literary aesthetic, and its response to broader late antique poetics, within and outside of Vandal North Africa.

Katherine holds a postdoc at Australian Catholic University with the Vandal Renaissance project. She completed her doctoral work at Oxford where she worked on the reception of classical authors in Macrobius' Saturnalia. At ACU she is researching anti-imperialism and local identity in the Anthologia Latina.

11 September

Ronak Alburz, The University of Melbourne

A Re-evaluation of the Etruscan Bronze Lamp of Cortona: Iconographic Meaning and Cultural Influences

This paper addresses unresolved problems with the Etruscan bronze lamp of Cortona, including its iconographic meaning, prototypes, and cultural influences. Drawing upon various literary sources and additional iconographic evidence, a new date and interpretation for the iconography of the lamp will be proposed. It will be shown that the lamp belongs to the Oriental artistic repertoire and its iconography was derived from prototypes from the Pontic region. This research also challenges the notion of "Dionysism without Dionysus" in Archaic Etruria and raises questions about the role of Greek art in shaping Dionysian cults and imagery in this region.

Ronak Alburz is currently in her first year as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne. She earned her Grad-Diploma degree in Classics and Archaeology from the same institution in 2022. She also holds a BA in Information Technology from York University in Toronto, earned in 2013. Her primary research interest centers on the study of human mobility and cross-cultural encounters during the Archaic period, particularly the movement from the East to the West. Her research specifically investigates the transmission of knowledge, cult practices, and funerary traditions, with an emphasis on the influence originating from the Black Sea region and its impact on northern and central Italy.

18 September

Reinhard Senff, AAIA Visiting Scholar

Aphrodite, Protectress of Sea-travel in Archaic Miletus: Results of the Excavations in her Sanctuary in the Ionian Metropolis

The Ionian metropolis of Miletus was one of the most important Greek cities of the Archaic period, not only as  regards its large size and population, but especially in relation to its extensive commercial activities which brought its citizens in constantly increasing contact with surrounding cultural centres. Miletus soon became a remarkable centre of science and philosophy, and influences from the cults and religions of neighbouring cultures were incorporated into its own. During the course of the recent German archaeological investigations at Miletus several sanctuaries have been located in the city and its surroundings. A network of cult places dedicated to Apollon, Artemis, Athena and Aphrodite were connected with the civic centre through processional roads and ceremonial events. Of special importance among the sanctuaries is the temenos of Aphrodite, located on today‘s Zeytintepe hill at the western shore of the ancient city. The cult goes back to the Late Geometric period (8th century B.C.) and flourished in the 7th and 6th century B.C. Thick layers of discarded votive objects and pottery from various regions of the Mediterranean, especially the Levant and Egypt, demonstrate Miletus’ far reaching connections in this period. Aphrodite probably was venerated here as the protectress of sea-travel. The city´s wealth manifested itself in extensive building programs which not only concentrated on public infrastructure and defences, but also in the embellishment of the religious establishments. At least one monumental marble building was erected to Aphrodite at the end of the 6th century B.C., but then the sanctuary suffered the same fate as the city and was destroyed by the Achaemenid Persians during the Ionian Revolt. The cult lasted down to the Roman period but never regained the importance it held in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

Reinhard Senff is the 2023 Janet and Bill Gale Visiting Professor for the AAIA (Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens). In 2022 he retired from his position as Scientific Director of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and, more specifically, the Director of the German excavations at Olympia, a position he had held from 2004.  Professor Senff’s research interests are broad and they range from Cyprus and its archaeology and art, through to the great Ionian city of Miletos, and onto one of the major focal points of the ancient Greek world, Olympia. Prof Senff is also giving a public lecture on Wednesday, 20 September, 6:30 pm, in the Arts West Building, Forum Theatre (Level 1), on "Olympia – The Sanctuary of Zeus from Prehistory to the Early Christian Period: Recent Results of the Excavations of the German Archaeological Institute.”

2 October

Konstantine Panegyres, The University of Melbourne

The Fragments of the Women Classical Scholars from Graeco-Roman Antiquity

Few fragments of works written by women classical scholars (γραμματικαί) have survived from Graeco-Roman antiquity. The fragments offer evidence for these women grammarians' interpretations of the Homeric poems, ranging from their explanations of the meanings of individual words to their elucidations of entire passages. Even though the fragments form a corpus of special interest, they have not been edited or studied together in a systematic way, and most of them have not been translated into any modern language before. The aim of today’s paper is to give a basic overview of this little-known material, and then to make a small new suggestion about the earliest of these figures, Agallis of Corcyra.

I studied a BA (2017) and MA (2019) at the University of Melbourne, then received a DPhil from the University of Oxford (2022). I started as McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne in January 2023. My research interests are fairly broad. I am currently writing a book about health in Graeco-Roman antiquity. Other main areas of research focus are papyrology (specifically the editing of previously unpublished papyri from various collections around the world), textual criticism, linguistics, and the history of classical scholarship from antiquity to the present day.

9 October

Abby Robinson, The University of Melbourne

Results of Archaeological Survey in the Borderlands of Caucasian Southwest Georgia

Drawing on data collected during an archaeological field survey conducted for my doctoral research, this talk is set in the southwest of Georgia, where the University of Melbourne also has an excavation project. It is mainly concerned with the early Middle Ages, a period of continual conflict and hardship in this region. I argue that the strongholds and shelters which we recorded in great numbers in all parts of the landscape can be dated to this period, representing a response to the many threats that prevailed. These castles, caves and underground houses merged nature and local knowledge to form a border that ultimately held. I also touch on another border, created thousands of years earlier in the same place. Although it differed in important aspects, it nevertheless shared with its medieval counterpart the characteristic fusion of nature and knowledge. This combination emerges as potentially central to how the Georgians were able to occupy this ground for millennia, despite repeated challenges.

Abby Robinson is a doctoral candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and a long-time member of the Georgian-Australian Investigations in Archaeology project. Her thesis is based on extensive field surveys in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of southwest Georgia, with a focus on issues of border formation and maintenance. As well as studying material culture, she incorporates ancient texts and GIS spatial analysis into her work.

16 October

David Pritchard, The University of Queensland

The Funeral Oration after Nicole Loraux

A funeral speech was delivered almost every year for classical Athenians who had died in war. Forty years ago, Nicole Loraux transformed our understanding of the funeral oration. Her Invention of Athens showed how important this genre was for reminding the Athenians who they were as a people. Loraux proved how each staging of this speech helped them to maintain the same self-identity for over a century. Nevertheless, The Invention of Athens was also far from a complete work. Loraux played down authorship as an object of study. Certainly, this made it easier for her to prove that the surviving funeral speeches were part of a long-stable tradition. But it also meant unfortunately that The Invention of Athens generally ignored the important questions about each of them. The funeral oration articulated a striking cultural militarism: it claimed that the Athenians almost always won their wars, from which they reaped large benefits. The Invention of Athens never compared this speech with the other literary genres that Athenian democracy sponsored. Therefore, Loraux was unable to show whether other genres ever counterbalanced the funeral oration’s cultural militarism. I have directed a large project to complete systematically The Invention of Athens. Project-members first met in Strasbourg in 2018. We had a second meeting in Lyon in 2020. Cambridge University Press will soon publish our edited volume of 19 chapters. The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux answers the important questions that Loraux ignored and completes the intertextual analysis that is simply missing in The Invention of Athens. What emerges is a speech that had a much greater political impact than Loraux ever thought.

David M. Pritchard is Associate Professor of Greek History at the University of Queensland (Australia) where he has chaired the Department of Classics and Ancient History. He has obtained research fellowships in Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2022-3, he is a research fellow in the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study (France). He is the author of Athenian Democracy at War (Cambridge University Press 2019), Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press 2013) and Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (University of Texas Press 2015). Associate Professor Pritchard has edited The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux (Cambridge University Press 2023) and War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press 2010), and co-edited Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (Classical Press of Wales 2003). He has also published 65 journal articles and book chapters. Associate Professor Pritchard has an h-index of 19 and more than 1300 known citations. He speaks on the radio and regularly writes for newspapers around the world. His 41 op.-eds have appeared in, among other outlets, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France), Le Figaro (France), Ouest-France, The Conversation (France), Kathimerini (Greece), (India), The Age (Australia), The Australian and Politike (Brazil). Associate Professor Pritchard obtained his PhD in Ancient History from Macquarie University (Australia) in 2000.