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
Marcus Folch
mf2664@columbia.edu

Joel Lidov
jbl104@caa.columbia.edu

Rapporteur
Jose Antonio Cancino Alfaro
jc5502@columbia.edu

Meeting Schedule

09/21/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Declamatory Fictions and the Crimen Maiestatis - Seneca, Controversiae 9.2
Matthew Leigh, University of Oxford
Abstract

Abstract

In 184 B.C. the censors M. Porcius Cato and L. Valerius Flaccus expelled from the senate seven of its members, of whom the most famous was L. Quinctius Flamininus. The accusation against Flamininus was that, while serving as consul for the year 192 B.C. and campaigning in the province of Gaul, he personally slew with a sword a Boian deserter who had reached his quarters while he was in his cups. This he did to compensate his prostitute lover Philippus who had quit Rome with him just before the gladiatorial games and complained to Flamininus that he had missed the entertainment. Livy 39.42-43 records this episode and cites the principal sources for subsequent versions of the story. In Controversiae 9.2, Flamininus stands trial under the statute 'maiestatis laesae sit actio'. This paper asks the following questions of the Senecan exercise: (i) Is there any historical basis for an actual trial of Flamininus under the lex maiestatis? (ii) What does it mean for declaimers operating at different points in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius to try the case by application of the crimen maiestatis? (iii) What perspective on the different iterations of this exercise and on those credited with contributing to it is offered to Seneca as he gathers together his material at the very end of the reign of Tiberius and published it at the start of that of Gaius?





10/26/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Smelling the Gods in Greek Tragedy
Rosa Andújar, King's College London
Abstract

Abstract

This paper examines divine fragrances in Greek tragedy. I focus on two moments in which characters claim to recognize the presence of a god through smell: the closing scene in Hippolytus in which the dying protagonist notes the apparition of Artemis (Eur. Hipp. 1391-3) and the moment preceding the parodos in Prometheus Bound, in which Prometheus becomes aware of the entrance of the chorus of Oceanids (Aesch. PV 115). I position the two scenes in relation to recent work on the cultural history of olfaction and the ways in which smell played a key role in establishing religious meaning and the experience of the divine. I argue that these scenes provide a unique insight into two crucial issues for the Greek dramatic stage: the ambiguously material tragic gods, and the equally unstable materiality of the sense of smell. Not only do these two scenes draw attention to the fluctuating corporeality of the Greek gods, but they also illuminate the strangeness of relying on the ambiguous sense of smell as a primary means of recognition on the stage. As I contend, these two scenes furthermore enable us to rethink the general “smellscape” of ancient Greek drama, and the ways in which tragic aromas and stenches differed from those found in satyr play and Old comedy. In a genre so heavily invested in visual and aural spectacle, it is easy to overlook the manner in which smell contributed to the experience of fifth-century Athenian theatre.





11/16/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Archilochus’ Sympotic Shield and the Repetitive Crux
Alexander Forte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract

Abstract

While sympotic approaches to Archilochus’ elegiac poetry (e.g., frr. 2 and 4 W) have already paid interpretive dividends, particularly in the elucidation of his playful use of metaphor and polysemy, this talk considers how such an interpretation of Archilochus’ shield poem (5 W) might also influence scholarly methods of textual criticism for archaic elegy. In the case of the shield poem, a pressing issue is that a variant of the third line, as found in a four-line quotation of Archilochus’ poem in Sextus Empiricus, seems to have a strong claim as a textual allusion to a specific episode from Homeric poetry. This is a problem because the version of the third line usually printed in modern editions, referenced in Aristophanes’ Peace and quoted with slight variation in Neoplatonist texts, also has a potential Homeric parallel. This complex situation leads to (at least) two difficult questions. First, how does one choose between variants in such a scenario? Second, what kind of textual evidence allows one to distinguish between Archilochus’ general engagement with traditions of archaic epic (most of which are lost to us) and his specific allusion to Homeric poems resembling ours? A potential answer to the first question invokes parallels from other drinking songs from Greek antiquity; a partial answer to the second question involves the contextual significance of a Homeric hapax legomenon in the shield poem.





01/18/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
The End of a Dynasty: Commemoration and Appropriation of the Aeacid Past
Elizabeth Carney, Clemson University
Abstract

Abstract

Aeacid monarchy in Molossia/Epirus ended in an explosion of violence about 232 BCE, yet some Aeacids continued to celebrate their predecessors and, indirectly, themselves, even more than two centuries later. At Delphi and possibly at Olympia, Nereis, the last survivor of the immediate ruling family, with her husband, Gelon II, soon after the abolition of monarchy in Epirus, dedicated multiple statues of some of the last ruling Aeacids to Apollo. The burials of at least three other members of the Aeacid clan, resident in Macedonia, clustered around the burial or tomb of Olympias in the region of Pydna, the site of her death. The name “Neoptolemus,” that of the son of Achilles and supposed founder of Molossian monarchy (and of several Epirote kings), appears in all three inscriptions, as does pride in Aeacid identity. Two of these inscriptions celebrate Olympias, but none mentions monarchy, either Epirote or Macedonian. This paper will examine the nature and apparent motivation of these post-monarchy memorials.





02/22/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
TBD
Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Columbia University




03/21/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
TBD
Tom Hawkins, Ohio State University




04/18/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
TBD
Christina Kraus, Yale University