Past Events 2016

Natural Features in Greek Cult Places and Ritual: The Case of Athens

Public lecture, Wednesday, 7 September, 6:30
Venue: Malaysian Theatre, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne

Professor Katja Sporn, 2016 Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) Visiting Professor

Greek sanctuaries have been connected with monumental architecture since a long time, especially with temple architecture, altars and functional buildings. But natural features were sometimes predecessors of architectural elements; in other cases, even in Hellenistic times and later, they intentionally outlined the sacred places, as has been recently shown, especially in various cities of Asia Minor. The lecture will discuss various types of natural elements associated with ritual places in Athens: caves, rock-cut features, trees and groves, as well as water. A major issue will be to trace the role and function of these elements in the cult of the sites.

Professor Katja Sporn (PhD Heidelberg) has been First Director of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens since 2014. She has also been a professor of classical archaeology at Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Austria (2010-13), Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany (2007-2010) and the University of Cologne (2002-2007). During the past five years she has participated in excavations at Aegina-Kolonna and Kalapodi in Greece and in the 1990s she excavated at Tel Kabri in Israel, Miletus in Turkey and Iria on the island of Naxos. She is the author of monographs and numerous journal articles on Greek religion and cult of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, in particular on the island of Crete.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria (CAV), the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA), and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at The University of Melbourne.


W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture

Wednesday, 14 September; reception 4:45; lecture 5:15
Kaye Scott Room, Ormond College, 49 College Crescent, Parkville

Dr Brennan McDavid, Seymour Reader, Ormond College

Moral Habituation: A Prerequisite for Aristotle’s Ethics Class

At Nicomachean Ethics 1.4, Aristotle  says that “the adequately prepared student of lectures about what is noble and just and, generally, about political matters needs to have been brought up well in their habits (τοις ὲθἐσιν ἢχθαι) […] A well brought up person either has the starting points [of ethical education] or can easily get hold of them” (1095b4—8). In this passage, Aristotle suggests that moral habituation (“bringing up well in habits”) is important preparation for ethical learning. In fact, many Aristotle scholars think that the process of learning to be good must begin with the shaping of pleasures and pains, i.e. development of character virtue.  But there is more to being good than just character virtue, of course: there is practical wisdom.

This paper explores Aristotle’s conception of the relationship between moral habituation and acquisition of practical wisdom. What are these “starting points” that are grasped by well-raised individuals and what is their precise role in relation to ethical learning and knowledge? Does Aristotle really think that moral habituation (i.e. being brought up well) is the only means by which we can acquire these “starting points” – or does he think that moral habituation is the best way, leaving open the possibility of alternative ways of acquiring them? Ultimately, I am interested in how the process of shaping our character through the acquisition of character virtues is connected with the process of shaping our intellect through acquisition of practical wisdom.

Understanding Çatalhöyük and the Origins of Settled Life

Friday, 18 March, 7.00
Theatre B117, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne (Parkville)

Professor Ian Hodder (Stanford)

This talk will summarise 22 years of excavation at the 9000 year-old Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. The site was first excavated by James Mellaart in the 1960s and recent research has led to many changes in the way the site is understood. The talk will focus on some aspects of this new understanding, particularly with regard to social and political organisation, burial practices and history making. An additional focus will be on how inter-personal violence was managed in a town that contained up to 8000 people. The new understanding of Çatalhöyük is also shown to be relevant for other sites in the Middle East and for the adoption of agriculture and settled life.

Ian Hodder is Professor of Anthropology and Dunlevie Family Professor at Stanford University, California, U.S.A. Awarded a PhD by the University of Cambridge for research on spatial analysis in archaeology in 1974, Professor Hodder went on to conduct excavations in the United Kingdom and Italy and ethnographic fieldwork in Sudan and Kenya. He was the Director-General of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit from 1990 to 2001, the Director of Training, Education, Management and Prehistory in the Eastern Mediterranean from 2002 to 2004 and is currently Co-Investigator of an Economic and Social Research Council funded project entitled ‘Ritual, Community and Conflict’. Professor Hodder has directed excavations and conservation at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey from 1993. Consisting of an international team of archaeologists, the Çatalhöyük Research Project has shed light on the development of one of the world’s earliest societies and the transition of its people from hunting and gathering to agriculture and urbanism.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria and funded by the Anthony McNicoll Fellowship, hosted by the University of Sydney. It is also part of the public lecture program of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at The University of Melbourne.

Serenade on a Blue Guitar: The Nature of Speeches in Xenophon

Wednesday, 3 February, 6.30
Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne
(pre-lecture reception 5.30 onwards in Arts Hall, see below)

Associate Professor Emily Baragwanath (UNC Chapel Hill)

This lecture examines the theory behind the Greek historian Xenophon’s use of speeches across the several genres of his literary oeuvre. The lecture also reviews the speeches’ functions, before taking a closer look at four case studies: in the “Hellenica”, the speeches of Euryptolemus to the Athenians, of Pharnabazus and Agesilaus, and of the Athenians to the Spartans; and in the “Anabasis,” the speech of Xenophon to the Greek mercenaries. The lecture argues that Xenophon proves remarkably creative in his employment of speeches, even as he finds inspiration both poetic and historiographical. Rather than simply recounting particulars, the speeches promote narrative intelligibility and assist readers to engage with the account of events, in various ways, including by revealing the abilities (or lack thereof) of those responsible for shaping policy or strategy; or by setting out higher truths, especially relating to character and relationships.

Emily Baragwanath is Associate Professor of Classics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Emily received her BA (1999) in Ancient History and English and MA (2001) in Ancient History from the University of Auckland before taking up a Rhodes Scholarship to Magdalen College at Oxford, where she earned her PhD in 2005. She has been at UNC Chapel Hill since 2007. She has also conducted research at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. (2009-2010) and at the University of Heidelberg in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow (2013-14). Emily’s main area of scholarly interest is the literary techniques employed by Greek historians in their construction of historical narratives. Her book “Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus” (OUP 2008), winner of Oxford’s Conington Prize and the CAMWS Award for Outstanding Publication 2010, explores the representation of human motivation in Herodotus’ Histories.

This public lecture doubles as the keynote address for the ASCS (Australasian Society for Classical Studies) 37th Annual Conference. This lecture will also be preceded by a reception from 5:30 pm onwards, in Arts Hall (Old Arts Building), which is on the floor above the PLT. If you are not already registered for the ASCS conference and would like to attend the reception (which is free), please email so we can have an estimate of numbers for catering. This reception is sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria, and AWAWS (Australian Women in Ancient World Studies).

If you wish to register to attend the ASCS 37 conference and hear the many academic papers during the daytime (February 2-5), you may pay the registration fees online at URL