Past Events 2010

Sophocles’ Elektra

Theatre 2, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton

1 to 18 December at the Dancing Dog Cafe, 42a Albert Street, Footscray

The Dog Theatre, Footscray presents Sophocles’ Elektra in a translation by Anne Carson, directed by Adena Jacobs and featuring Zahra Newman, Jane Montgomery Griffiths, Luisa Hastings Edge, Gary Abrahams, Josh Price and Karen Sibbing.

1-18 December, 8:00; matinees 11 and 18 December, 1:00.

Annual General Meeting

Theatre 2, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, 6:20 on Wednesday 8 December (immediately preceding public lecture)

The Annual General Meeting of the Classical Association of Victoria will include the election of office bearers. Any nominations for the following positions should reach the Honorary Secretary by 3 December: president, secretary, treasurer and council members. Nominations should be signed by the nominee and seconded.

The Voice of Achilles: Communication, Self and Spectacle in Homer’s Iliad

Theatre 2, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, 6:30 on Wednesday 8 December (immediately following Annual General Meeting)

James Stratford is a PhD candidate in Classics at the University of Melbourne and has recently submitted his thesis. This public lecture doubles as his completion seminar.

At its very heart, the Iliad is less a meditation on war and peace as it is an account of Achilles’ journey through anger. The drama of the narrative and the fate of all within are inextricably bound to the inner workings of this man. His burning rage ignites the world around him with the unquenchable fires of war, while his compassion is instrumental in the restoration of order and civility. Both conflict and harmonious relations are the results of the communication that takes places between Achilles and his interlocutors at key points in the narrative.

W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture: A Funny Thing Happened in the Theatre

Kaye Scott Room, Ormond College, 49 College Crescent, Parkville, 6:00 for 6:30 on Thursday 14 October

Emeritus Prof Frank Sear, University of Melbourne

In the Roman world the theatre seems to have enjoyed a greater prestige than the amphitheatre or the circus. There were attempts to enforce dress standards and a rigorous separation of the classes. Theatres were the ideal places for the wealthy to flaunt their position and consequently they attracted a great deal of support and finance from private benefactors. That did not mean that things always turned out as planned and sometimes funny things happened in the theatre.

Frank Sear is Emeritus Professor in Classics & Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. Among his numerous publications are the monumental Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study (Oxford, 2006) and Roman Architecture (first published in 1982).

At the Allen Memorial Lecture the Classical Association of Victoria will award the Alexander Leeper Prize (for students who completed Honours in Classics in 2009) and the new Postgraduate Scholarship In Classics & Ancient History (funded by the generous donations of the CAV’s membership).

The Deplorable Life and Disgusting Death of Andronikos I

Theatre 1, ICT Building, University of Melbourne, 111 Barry Street, Carlton, 6:30 on Tuesday 5 October, Public Lecture

Prof John Melville-Jones, University of Western Australia

In the 12th century, Andronikos I Komnenos ruled the Eastern Roman Empire for two brief years when he was in his mid-sixties. This lecture is an account of a man who lusted for power throughout his adult life and finally attained it, after having the three people who stood in his way put to death. Then, when he lost the support of the people, he was put to death in the most appalling manner.

John Melville-Jones is Winthrop Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Western Australia and he specializes in ancient coinage and Byzantine and Venetian history. Prof Melville-Jones’ visit to Melbourne is sponsored by the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC) and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne & Victoria (GOCMV).

The Cycladic Spirit: The Attraction of the Cycladic Islands for Travellers from the Middle Ages until the Modern Day

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 29 September, Public Lecture

Dr Ina Berg, University of Manchester

The Cycladic islands in Greece, with their combination of natural beauty, intriguing local customs and beautiful archaeological remains, have long captured the imagination of travellers. During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, British, French and German travellers had included these islands in their travel itinerary. Since the 1960s the Cycladic islands have become one of the favourite destinations for holidaymakers. By analysing past and modern travellers’ accounts, this lecture wishes to investigate why these islands became so popular over time; in particular, it explores what material, environmental, or spiritual aspects of the islands held the greatest appeal and what impressions the travellers formed on their island visits.

Ina Berg is Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Manchester. Born in Germany and educated at the universities of Heidelberg and Cambridge, she is the author of Negotiating Island Identities: The Active Use of Pottery in the Middle and Late Bronze Age Cyclades (2007).

Shaken and Stirred: Cyprus in the Fourth Century A.D.

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 1 September

Dr Thomas W. Davis, Director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Institute in Nicosia

Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Archaeology (AIA) at LaTrobe University

The 4th century A.D. was a time of profound change on Cyprus. The island entered the century as quiet pagan backwater, but by 400 A.D. had become a vibrant Christian center with strong influence beyond its shores. The foundations of Modern Greek Cypriot identity were laid in Early Byzantine Cyprus.

This lecture is sponsored by the Australian Institute of Archaeology (AIA) at LaTrobe University.

Further details.

The Conception of Jesus and the Documents from the Judaean Desert

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Monday 30 August

Professor Hannah Cotton, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The story of the nativity, the conception of Jesus, is found in only two of the Gospels: Matthew and Luke. Both versions have in common that Maria/Miriam was betrothed, but not married, to Joseph and that she was still a virgin when Jesus was conceived. Under rabbinic law, betrothal creates a legal status which only a deed of divorce can dissolve. But was rabbinic law practiced by Jews in Palestine already before its canonization in the second century CE? The papyri from the Judaean Desert tell us otherwise. Is the story of Jesus’ conception to be dismissed as either fantasy or a reflection of rustic Galilean practice or, even worse: is the subtext of the story in the Gospels an illegitimate conception? Do the Gospels reply to charges and allegations of adultery and Jesus’ illegitimacy?

Further details.

Piecing It All Together: Archaeological Fragments and New Discoveries in Scientific Conservation

Hercus Theatre, David Caro (Physics) Building, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 25 August

Dr Petronella Nel, Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne

Besides Aphrodite: Sappho, Ritual and Performance

Bagging Room, Malthouse Theatre, Sturt Street, Melbourne, 4:45 on Saturday 21 August

Page DuBois (University of California, San Diego, USA)

Free public lecture.

‘From Sappho to … X’: Classics, Performance, Reception

Monash University, Caulfield Campus; Victorian College of the Arts and Music; Malthouse Theatre, Friday 20 August, Saturday 21 August, Sunday 22 August

Monash University, the Victorian College of Arts and Music and the Australasian Classical Reception Studies Network are hosting a three-day interdisciplinary conference on the relationship between performance and the Classics. The conference will bring together Classical scholarship, theatre studies, translation studies and cultural studies to investigate how performance manipulates and embodies our understanding of the classical world. Using the figure of Sappho as a metaphor for the many gaps we have to fill as we grapple with the otherness of the ancient world, the conference will explore how readers, translators, performers and spectators endlessly recreate the Classics in our imaginations and our embodiments.

The conference is supported by the Classical Association of Victoria.

Recent Discoveries at Tel Safi-Gath

Hercus Theatre, David Caro (Physics) Building, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 18 August

Dr Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne

Razing Hypatia

Horti Hall, Victoria Street, Melbourne, Friday 13 August & Saturday 14 August 2010

A chamber opera workshopped by New Opera Ventures Australia (NOVA), libretto by Jane Griffiths Montgomery, music by Kevin March.

Jane Griffiths Montgomery (Deptartment of Theatre, Monash University) and Melburnian composer Kevin March have collaborated to turn Montgomery’s one-woman play Razing Hypatia (2009) into a chamber opera. It tells the story of a modern-day mathematics professor who finds her own life disturbingly mirroring that of the ancient Alexandrian mathematician Hypatia who was murdered in 415 AD. Razing Hypatia will be workshopped for the public along with other new opera and musical theatre projects, including Chris Dench’s WE, Peter Casey’s The Devil Builds A Chapel, David Stanhope’s The Un-Dead and Sandra France’s Playing with Fire.

The Shaft Graves at Mycenae: From Schliemann to Homer and Vice Versa

Hercus Theatre, David Caro (Physics) Building, University of Melbourne, 6:30 on Wednesday 11 August

Professor Robert Laffineur, Universite de Liege; AAIA Visiting Professor

Sponsored by the Australian Archaeological Institute in Athens (AAIA)

The image of the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann searching for the reality of the sites of epic Greek past with the help of the Homeric text has dominated generations of historians and archaeologists. It is true to a large extent, especially as far as Troy is concerned, even if it has led the excavator to interpretations that have since been corrected, mainly the identification of the IIIrd millennium levels of Troy II with the city of Priam, i.e. the city of the Trojan war. Coming to the city of Atreus, the Homeric inspiration has led Schliemann to the discovery of the famous shaft graves of the acropolis of Mycenae with their spectacular finds. This again could not be anything else in his mind but the remains of the wealthy family of the kings who ruled over the city and were engaged in the expedition against Troy. And again the interpretation was wrong and the date of the tombs has proved to be some three centuries earlier and get back to the beginning of the Late Bronze Age, in the XVIth century B.C. It remains that the excavations have revealed evidence of clear connections and close similarities with situations and specific objects described in the Homeric poem, Merions’ helmet and Nestor’s cup to name just a few. This raises the question of the survival of an early Mycenaean context in early first millennium Greece and of the existence of a tradition of epic nature as early as the middle of the 2nd millennium, that would have survived until its first preserved written version at the time of Homer. Such a tradition has probably been transmitted orally for the most part – and this implies the possible existence of an epic literature as early as the XVIth century B.C.- but the possibility of a pictorial tradition has not to be excluded at the same time: the narrative character of scenes depicted on many prestige objects from the shaft graves at Mycenae and the correspondence of the symbolic images on many of them with Homeric similes make such a Bronze Age background quite likely.

Further details.

Sappho…in 9 Fragments

Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank, 30 July-21 August

As Sappho herself reminds us: all education is a form of seduction. Your lesson begins now. 2700 years ago, Sappho is the world’s first love poet, the tenth muse of the ancient Greeks and the inspiration for every lovelorn writer and songster since. But history catches up with her and, over time, Sappho becomes just a gap to be filled with the lusts and desires of each new generation… “Sappho…in 9 fragments” by Jane Montgomery Griffiths is a roller-coaster, tour de force through two-and-a-half millennia of Sappho’s story, weaving together the strange tale of her fragmented reception with a contemporary love story in her own words. As a timeless Sappho relives her uses and abuses through history, in the modern world a heart-broken young woman tries to piece together the fragments of her sexual awakening.

Mosaics in Domestic Decoration

Domestic Decoration Theatre 1, ICT Building, University of Melbourne, 111 Barry Street, Carlton, 6:30 on Wednesday 21 July

A CAV public lecture by Emerita Professor Katherine Dunbabin, Mcmaster University, Canada

In many parts of the Mediterranean, excavation has revealed remains of numerous urban houses dating from the period of greatest prosperity of the Roman Empire, the first three centuries after Christ. Unlike the houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum, preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius that buried them, little survives of these later houses above the floor levels and the lower parts of the walls; their most impressive remains are often the very elaborate mosaic pavements. From the way these were decorated, we can get an understanding of the patterns of life in the houses and the uses of the various rooms and of the interests and preoccupations of the patrons who commissioned the mosaics, as well as of the craftsmen who made them. The talk, which is extensively illustrated, discusses the information that the mosaics can convey, using examples of houses from the African provinces of the Empire (Tunisia and Morocco) and from Spain and Portugal.

Who Slept With Whom in the Roman Empire?: Sex and Scandal in Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars

Theatre 1, ICT Building, University of Melbourne, 111 Barry Street, Carlton, 6:30 on Wednesday 24 March

A public lecture by Dr K.O. Chong-Gossard, University of Melbourne

Suetonius’ biographies of the Roman emperors of the first century CE are notorious for their prurient interest in the outrageous sex lives of the Roman imperial families. But Suetonius was writing his salacious gossip in the second century CE, during the reign of Hadrian, whose propaganda advertised sexual ethics of a very different nature. This lecture catalogues the various sexual exploits of the Roman emperors, examines how Suetonius presented sex as a component of biography and explores how the imperial propaganda of Hadrian’s time relates to Suetonius’ gossip-laden style.

Dr James (‘K.O’) Chong-Gossard is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. He writes mainly about Greek tragedy (including a book, Gender and Communication in Euripides Plays: Between Song and Silence, Brill 2008), but also received an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant in 2005 to research Roman imperial sex scandals. Along with co-editors Andrew Turner and Frederik Vervaet, he is publishing the proceedings of their 2008 conference, “Private and Public Lies: the Discourse of Despotism in the Ancient World.”

How the Romans Recorded, Remembered, Thought About and Used Their Past

Theatre 1, ICT Building, University of Melbourne, 111 Barry Street, Carlton, 6:30 on Wednesday 10 March

A CAV public lecture by Professor Andreas Mehl, University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

The Romans recorded and remembered their past by different means. Historiography was only one of these and it came late to the Romans, under Greek influence, but it very soon became the most important means for Roman historical thought. Understanding the past by means of examples, more precisely by moral examples, was at the very centre of Roman historical thought even through early Christian times.

Andreas Mehl has been Professor of Ancient History at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg since 1992. An English edition his book Roman Historiography was published in 2009. He has also published books on the Roman historian Tacitus’ portrayal of the Emperor Claudius and on the Hellenistic empire of Seleukos Nikator.