Monarch by Universal Consent: Revisiting Augustus’ Alternative Truth

Public lecture: Tuesday, 2 October, 6:00
Forum Theatre, Arts West Building, The University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Frederik Vervaet, The University of Melbourne

In April 44 BCE, barely two months after the Ides of March, the young C. Octavius (born 63 BCE) arrived in Italy to claim the political inheritance of his adoptive father, the slain dictator Julius Caesar.  Some fourteen years later, his final victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt in the summer of 30 BCE paved the way for almost 45 years of undisputed mastery over the entire Roman world.  This lecture endeavours to reappraise the momentous career of the man who would be known as Imperator Caesar Augustus from January 27 and is widely considered as Rome’s first Emperor.  The chosen approach will be to confront the ‘alternative facts’ of his ‘post-truth’ retrospective in his Res Gestae, the official record of achievements he divulged in 13 CE, one year before his death, with the extant historical sources.  This exercise will reveal his breathtaking distortions of the truth and offer valuable insights into authoritarian statecraft and mass communication.

Associate Professor Frederik Vervaet is a member of the Council of the Classical Association of Victoria.  He received his PhD from Ghent University, Flanders, and is an expert in Roman political and socio-institutional history and Roman public law.  Before coming to Melbourne in 2007 he was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Wolfson College, Oxford and the Belgian Historical Institute at Rome.  He authored a substantial monograph on The High Command in the Roman Republic (Stuttgart 2014, termed “magisterial” in The Classical Review and was awarded with the 2017 Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences).  Associate Professor Vervaet spent the northern spring of 2018 as a member at Princeton’s renowned Institute for Advanced Study to pursue further study into Augustan statecraft.

Frederik Vervaet is Associate Professor in Ancient History at the University of Melbourne, where he specializes in Roman socio-institutional and political history, and Roman public law.  He was awarded the Woodward Medal in Humanities and Social Sciences his 2014 book, The High Command in the Roman Republic: The Principle of the summum imperium auspiciumque from 509 to 19 BCE.  Most recently he was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.

This lecture is part of the “Truth” Lecture series run by the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS).  The lecture is free but please register your attendance at http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/FVervaet.

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Worlds in Disarray: Globalization, Piracy, and Populism in Prehistory and the Present

Public lecture: Monday, 21 May, 7:00  (reception with food begins at 6:30 in Arts West Atrium)
Venue: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture Theatre, Arts West B101, The University of Melbourne

Professor Louise Hitchcock, The University of Melbourne

This lecture examines the relationship between social and technological acceleration, class conflict, natural disaster, and systems collapse in the ancient Mediterranean and in modern western society through an examination of globalization, populism and piracy.

Louise Hitchcock is Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. She is also a former member of the council of the Classical Association of Victoria. A UCLA graduate, Professor Hitchcock has extensive archaeological experience in the east Mediterranean, including time as Parsons Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens; a senior Fulbright Fellow at the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Cyprus; as an USAID Fellow; a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow; the Visiting Annual Professor at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; a visiting researcher at the Institute of Advanced Study at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and undertakes excavation work in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Crete, and California.

Although not specifically sponsored by the CAV, this public event is free. Please register your attendance.

Homer and the Epic Tradition IX

The 9th Homer Seminar, to be held at ANU, will take place from 4–5 December 2017. The seminar is intended to give Australasian scholars interested in the epic tradition the chance to test out ideas, methodologies and findings in a supportive environment, and is particularly (but not exclusively) open to postgraduates and early career researchers. Please submit your abstract to Fiona Sweet Formiatti (fiona.sweet-formiatti@anu.edu.au) by 30 September. Further information.

Last of the Naval Triumphs: Revisiting Some Key Actian Honours

A paper by Frederik Vervaet for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 22 May in the Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts.

On 2 September 31 BCE, Caesar Octavianus, or Imperator Caesar Divi filius, as he then wanted to be known, won a decisive naval victory over his rival Marcus Antonius and his ally Cleopatra at Actium in Greece.  While some scholars even argue that there was no such thing as a separate triumph for this victory, others consider it to be not very different from the curule triumphs that preceded and followed it on 13 and 15 Quintilis, namely those over a number of European tribes and Egypt successively.  More often than not, they also tend to downplay the significance of the so-called Actian triumph.  This paper endeavours to cast a very different light on Octavianus’s second curule triumph by virtue of a careful reappraisal of the extant literary, numismatic and epigraphic evidence.

Third Intermediate Period/Iron Age I-II Raphia and Egypt’s Response to the Changed Political Spectrum in the Levant: Early Results

A paper by Stuart Ibrahim for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 8 May in the Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts.

Archaeological analysis has established that, following the Bronze Age Collapse (around 1200–1177 BC), all of the great Bronze Age kingdoms and empires, except for Egypt, crumbled into dust.  Other cultures and peoples took this opportunity to seize these lands and form their own kingdoms.  In the meantime, Egypt had declined into a period of Chaos (the Third Intermediate Period), with separate dynasties ruling over Upper and Lower Egypt.  It was only in Dynasty 22, under the Libyan King, Shoshenq I, that Egypt was reunified and able to influence the Levantine region.

This presentation comprises the preliminary results for my PhD analysis on the site of Raphia/Tell Rafa and the surrounding region and will attempt to expand on what we know already.  While the primary analysis will be on Raphia itself, the focus of this paper is on the surrounding regions and the most likely occupants of Raphia (these being the Philistines, the Israelites, surviving Canaanites (?) or even the Edomites).  These results will then be used to address the question of whether Egypt reclaimed Rafa under Shoshenq I or not.

Jodocus Badius and the Lyon Terence: The Earliest Illustrated incunabulum of the Six Comedies

A paper by Andrew Turner for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 1 May in the North Theatre, Old Arts.

The 1490s saw the first early printed editions (incunabula) of Terence’s plays incorporating an illustrative cycle found in manuscripts which had its origins in late antiquity; the earliest and most complete of these was published in Lyon, where it was edited by the Flemish classical scholar Jodocus Badius Ascensius.  Although the pictures appear to be a late addition to another edition and commentary on Terence, written by Guy Jouenneaux, behind them lies a large amount of careful scholarship by Badius.  Only two years earlier he published a major edition of the ancient commentary by Donatus on Terence, rediscovered in the 1440s, and had studied the classics extensively in Renaissance Ferrara at the precise time that the first dramatic revivals of Roman comedy were taking place on stage there.  This paper looks in more detail at the relationship of text, image and performance in one of the key works for the reception of Terence in the later Renaissance.

The Dilemma of Vibia Sabina’s Roman Coins

A paper by Trudie Fraser for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 24 April in the Mcmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts.

The coins of Vibia Sabina, wife of the emperor Hadrian, are beautiful and their number suggests that she was honoured with more coins than any previous emperor’s wife. The chronology of these coins, however,  has puzzled many scholars for nearly a century with no satisfactory conclusion having yet been reached.  The variety of the iconography, both the obverse images of Sabina and the selection of reverse images, several different legends and the use of most coin denominations, all contribute to an enormous chronological dilemma.  This paper discusses these problems with many illustrations of Sabina’s coins. It attempts to provide reasons for the different combinations of image and legend and to suggest a possible chronology for Sabina’s coins, which in turn could shed some light on Sabina’s relationship with her husband.