Fall 2023 Saturday Seminars Descriptions and Registration

All designed for a general audience. All are Eastern/NYC time. All are 60-90 minutes in duration.

Greco-Roman Amulets | February 17, 12 pm ET

The earliest amulets in the ancient world can be difficult to pin down. Many were organic and therefore did not survive in the archaeological record, others may not have obviously been amulets. With the expansion of the Roman world inscribed amulets begin to appear.

In this talk, Dr. Charlotte Spence will look at amulets and their use across antiquity and how their use evolved over time. We will also look at how the use of amulets fits into an individual’s wider religious beliefs or views.

Aeschylus’ Persians: Mirror of Empathy | March 9, 12 pm ET

Aeschylus’ Persians stands apart among surviving tragedy as a play with a historical rather than a mythological subject. Reflecting on the memory of the Greek triumph over Persian power at the battle of Salamis eight years prior, Aeschylus might have diminished the pathos of the past by solely singing of the triumphs of Athens. Instead, he holds up a mirror to the past with dual refractions. It takes two to make a war, and Aeschylus humanizes the Persians as a people not unlike the Greeks, undergoing losses and laments in accordance with the shifting fortunes of time; with which the Greeks themselves were only too familiar. In keeping with Solon’s dictum to ‘look to the end’, Aeschylus paints a poignant portrayal of the past from the perspective of the defeated. Thus, while being a historical play, it functions like a mythological one in creating an experience of purgation: the audience in remembering their own victories and losses will ritually undergo those of their enemies in conjunction.

In this one-hour session, Lauren Heilman drawing from Herodotus and analyzing Aeschylus will present the fundamental truths of the play which lay bare one of the greatest facets of the Greek soul, the capacity for empathy.

Translating Ancient Texts: The Loom and the Mast | March 16, 12 pm ET

In Odyssey book one, Telemachus (in)famously instructs his other to return to her ‘loom and distaff’. In ancient Greek, this imperative is heavy with allusions. The terminology of weaving and the terminology of ship building flow from a related lexical network in which the Greek words for loom and distaff both figure. The word for loom (histos) is also the word for mast (histos) and shares a root with the word for the noun sail (histion). That our loom and mast collapse into the single word histos suggests gender symmetry encoded in the Greek language that cannot be rendered in translation.

In this session, Dr. Eirene Allen will track the presence of histos (loom) and histos (mast), their connection to the verb histemi (to stand, to make stand), and explore how to navigate the challenge of translating them.