Seminars

  • Founded
    1957
  • Seminar Number
    441

This seminar exists to further, in the New York area, the study of the literature, art, archaeology, and history of the ancient world. Seven meetings are held each year attended by twenty to sixty members drawn from universities and colleges within reach of New York. There is no set theme to the seminar for a given semester or year.


Co-Chairs
Professor Marcus Folch
mf2664@columbia.edu

Professor Joel Lidov
joel.lidov@qc.cuny.edu

Rapporteur
Jose Antonio Cancino Alfaro
jc5502@columbia.edu

Meeting Schedule

09/29/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University/hybrid
7:30 PM
Senatorial self-portraits: images of the corporate Senate, from Augustus to Constantine
Amy Russell, Brown University
Abstract

Abstract

This talk focuses on how the imperial Roman senate depicted itself in visual media. I focus on the Senate’s building projects in the city of Rome itself, from the Ara Pacis to the Arch of Constantine, analysing them as the products of senatorial patronage that must not be lumped together with projects under the emperor’s own name. Among their key audiences were the emperor and the senators themselves, making them important sites of negotiation of senatorial identity. Many of these monuments include striking images of senators, and eventually of the Genius Senatus. I argue that under empire the high Roman elite found a new visual and political vocabulary of corporate identity.





10/20/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University / Zoom
7:30 PM
Becoming a Place: Speaking Landscapes in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Claire Catenaccio, Georgetown University
Abstract

Abstract

Who speaks for a landscape? Does a landscape have consciousness, agency, or morality? How do ideas about landscapes affect human experience, and what duties do humans have toward the natural world? The Homeric Hymn to Apollo, composed ca. 650 B.C.E., features two speaking landscapes: the island of Delos and the spring Telphousa in Boeotia. As some of the earliest instances in Greek literature of personification of landscape, these passages are crucial to our understanding of the Greeks’ changing relationship to nature across time. In the hymn, the two speaking landscapes are situated among descriptions of other, silent landscapes – Thebes, Onchestos, and Delphi – which nevertheless play a prominent role in the narrative. This talk will consider how landscapes, both speaking and silent, are represented in the hymn, drawing on the theoretical techniques of ecocriticism to make new claims about the symbiosis of the human and non-human worlds in archaic Greek poetry.





11/17/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University / Zoom
7:30 PM
Sappho Book 1: the beginning, the middle, and the end
Patrick Finglass, University of Bristol
Abstract

Abstract

Book 1 of the ancient edition of Sappho consisted of all her poems in the sapphic metre; our evidence for this book is far more extensive than for any of the other eight books of that edition. This evidence is not limited to the quantity of surviving text; rather, we possess a good deal of vital information about how poems were ordered within the book. This paper re-examines Book 1 from the perspective of the ancient edition. Beginning with the ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ (the only poem by Sappho which survives complete), the paper shows that the evidence for its having opened Book 1 is far stronger, and derives from far more sources, than has been realised, making its position at the head of the collection no mere ‘strong suggestion’ (in the words of recent contributions) but a certainty. The paper then considers why this poem was placed here, as well as what we know (thanks to a papyrus commentary published in 2005 but neglected since) about the poem which came immediately afterwards. The paper proceeds to consider the ten-poem sequence which we know (thanks to papyri published in 1914 and 2014) to have stood roughly in the middle of the book. These poems are arranged by alphabetical order of first letter; but can we detect any further principle by which poems opening with the same letter were arranged? And could the ordering of these poems, whatever the principles involved, have impacted how they were read in antiquity? Finally, the paper considers the final poem of Book 1, noting the strange decision of modern editors to avoid putting it at the end of their editions of that book, despite the explicit papyrus evidence. Such a position naturally invites us to ask why, and with what impact, the ancient editor placed it there. Overall, by scrutinising the structure of the book in this way, we can (it is hoped) become more attuned to the practice of editors, and the experience of readers, in the case of the most-read book of the most-read female writer in classical antiquity.





01/19/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM

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02/16/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM

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03/23/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM

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04/20/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM

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