Revolution #3 – Reading Revolution: Lucan’s Civil War

‘aduenisse diem qui fatum rebus in aeuum conderet humanis, et quaeri, Roma quid esset,

illo Marte, palam est.’

‘It is clear, the day which will decide the matters of human life forever has come,

the battle shall decide what Rome shall be.’

-Lucan, Civil War, 7. 131-133.

LucanPharsaliaFrenchEd1657
Attribution: Engraved title page of a French edition of Lucan’s Pharsalia, 1657.

 

How did the young poet Lucan (39-65 AD), writing his epic poem, the Civil War, under the erratic Emperor Nero, manage to explore and engage with the notion of revolution, a term which would wait more than a thousand years to be coined in its current sense?  Continue reading

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New Beginnings # 4: Politicising the Past: A Review of King’s Greek Play Prometheus Bound

prometheus-boundClassics, perhaps more than any other academic discipline, is frequently subject to accusations of being irrelevant to modern society. This is an aspect of the discipline perpetuated by traditional, reductive perspectives that criticise acts, such as translation or reception, which would challenge the canonical status of a classical text. Increasingly, however, classicists have challenged such essentialist arguments through acts of reception that note the capacity of both ancient texts and iconic ancient figures to resonate with modern ideological struggles.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Greek Play, an annual production staged by King’s Classics department that provides audiences with the unique opportunity to experience Greek drama in the original ancient language. For 2017, this was a student production of Prometheus Bound at the Greenwood Theatre. This production was, in a sense, a New Beginning for the Greek Play itself, since it was the first time the play has been performed in its history of sixty-four years. Moreover, through the figure of Prometheus, it sought to challenge assumptions about the relevance of Classical literature to provide an enlightening analogue to current issues raised by world politics. Continue reading

The Importance of Unplanned Research Trips 

I have embarked on a three-year project which involves spending my time reading ancient Greek speeches and thinking about long-gone ancient Greek gods, so when I tell people I am off to Greece for two weeks, they assume I am going there to ‘do research’, ‘for work’, whatever that may be. I tell them, slightly embarrassed, that actually I am going on holiday. I am just travelling, hiking around for a bit.

I have been to Greece many times, and have travelled the well-trodden route of the country’s unforgettable and unimaginably affecting ancient sites, from Athens, via Delphi, Olympia, Corinth and Mycenae to Sparta. My PhD looks at political and legal speeches written in Athens in the fourth century BCE, and examines the religious discourse found in these. It is a study based on texts. Texts which are preserved in books and manuscripts and papyrus rolls not in Greece anymore, but dotted around libraries and archives around the world. I am not an archaeologist, nor an art historian. As such, I don’t have a particular, pressing need to go to Greece for my study. Continue reading