The Institute of Classical Studies
Sharing and promoting research in Classics.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, in 2020 we have been able to make two special awards for public engagement projects which share research in Classics (broadly defined) with wider publics. The field of entries was exceptionally strong, and the members of the judging panel were impressed by the quality of all applications and the commitment which applicants showed to sharing their work beyond academia.
We are delighted to announce that the winners were as follows:
* Dr. Ersin Hussein (Swansea University) for ‘Egypt and Its Neighbours’, a partnership with Swansea’s Egypt Centre (in collaboration with Collections Access Manager Dr. Ken Griffin) engaging local communities with issues relating to cultural identity and diversity.
* Dr. Sally Waite and Dr. Susanna Phillippo (Newcastle University) for ‘Greece Recreated’, which builds on collaborations in the North East of England involving museums, schools, and the English Heritage property Belsay Hall.
The winning projects will each receive £1100 to spend on the future development of their public engagement activities.
The judging panel consisted of Dr. Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies), Dr. Emma Cole (University of Bristol), Dr. April Pudsey (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr. Henry Stead (University of St. Andrews).
The ICS will host an online awards event on Thursday 10th September at 4.30pm, when the winners will share more details about their projects. The event is free to attend and all are welcome, but booking is essential: for full details and to reserve a space please visit this page.
Dr. Andriana Domouzi shares her experience of putting together a theatre project which was supported by one of the ICS’s small grants for public engagement.
On the 9th November 2019, theatre company Cyborphic produced a fully reconstructed version of Euripides’ fragmentary tragedy Melanippe Wise in a Staged Reading at the Hope Theatre in Angel, London. The project, which consisted of the Staged Reading and a workshop series that led to it, was – to my knowledge – the first attempt at a theatrical reconstruction of this Euripidean lost play worldwide. The new play is based on my doctoral research and was written by playwright Dr Christos Callow Jr, who is also a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Derby. The series of workshops ‘Lost Greek Tragedy: Staging the Fragmented & the Fantastic’ that we led at the Cockpit theatre in Marylebone on the 26th and 27th October 2019 were the first public engagement activities we had organised around the Melanippe Wise project, aiming to familiarise non-specialists with the classical research around fragmentary Greek tragedies and the creative process that can be followed to reconstruct such plays, using Melanippe Wise as a case study. The workshops and the Staged Reading were partially funded by the Institute of Classical Studies’ public engagement grant.
I had originally reconstructed the plot of Melanippe Wise along with that of Melanippe Captive – the other lost Euripidean tragedy based on the relatively unknown and complex Thessalian myth of Melanippe – for my PhD (a commentary with introduction on the fragments and testimonies for both Melanippe tragedies) at Royal Holloway, University of London (completed in 2018; an expanded version is forthcoming with De Gruyter). After founding the theatre company Cyborphic in late 2017, we started working on the new play based on my academic reconstruction of Melanippe Wise. Meanwhile I also organised in June 2018 the academic workshop ‘Reconstructing & Adapting Fragmentary Ancient Greek Tragedy: Methodologies & Challenges for Classicists and Theatre Practitioners’, which highlighted the various methodologies for adapting or reconstructing a fragmentary tragedy; this event was a milestone in my own research on Classical Performance Reception and my approach to reconstructing Melanippe Wise for the stage. Upon completion of my doctorate, I had presented Christos with a detailed structure of the reconstructed tragedy and the main events of each epeisodion, having placed the surviving fragments in the various epeisodia and stasima; our goal was to integrate the translated fragments within the new play. Christos, who had studied acting in Athens and had lectured on Classical Greek Theatre at the University of Leeds, was very familiar with the qualities and attitudes of Euripidean characters; after he completed the first draft in late 2018, we worked on revising several aspects of the play from January to October 2019, mostly focusing on those areas of the plot that the fragments and testimonies leave relatively dubious.
The public engagement workshops in late October 2019 were well-attended and participants were from different backgrounds: secondary school Drama and English teachers, cultural advisors, directors, actors, playwrights and other professionals and students interested in ancient Greek myth and drama; most did not have prior knowledge of fragmentary Greek tragedy and attended the workshops eager to gain access to specialist knowledge around a niche area of Greek tragedy, an additional motive for them being the previously unexplored material of Melanippe Wise. The workshops focused on two strands of enquiry; the first was the reconstruction, research and dramaturgical decisions while the second was the adaptation methodologies and subsequent performance of a reconstructed character, focusing on Christos’ adapted monologue of Melanippe’s mother Hippo as dea ex machina. In our version, Hippo appears on the mechane as a talking horse and the practical component of the workshop was decisive in providing a platform for experimenting with alternative methods of performing the talking animal in a Greek tragedy context – processes that were developed further during the rehearsals for the Staged Reading. Following the two non-specialist workshops, we led a final invite-only intensive text-based workshop; the goal was to explore the depiction of women and aspects of gender, agency and consent in Melanippe Wise and to discuss them thoroughly with colleagues and fellow artists; this helped to re-examine how certain pieces of dialogue were worded, e.g. scenes where rational Melanippe finds herself in conflict with a group of privileged irrational men (such as the chorus).
During the rehearsals at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden Town, we had the opportunity to include the invaluable contribution of virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Thodoris Ziarkas. I had commissioned Thodoris to perform the traditional Northern Greek bagpipe (askaulos/gaida) during the stasima, accompanying the chorus at the Staged Reading; the reason behind the choice of a Greek bagpipe as the Staged Reading’s musical instrument had clearly to do with the primeval effect of its sound, an echo of a piercing howling from the past. Thodoris joined us at the rehearsals having brought two bagpipes; before that, we had only told him the basic plotline. Responding to the unravelling of the plot, he improvised with the bagpipes and started using them to create soundscapes that would resemble the crying sound of Melanippe’s twin baby boys Aeolus and Boeotus, especially when they are about to be thrown into the fire – as instructed by the relentless Hellen, the ancestor of all Greeks and Melanippe’s grandfather.
Melanippe was performed by Cyborphic’s Associate Artist, actress and playwright Bee Scott, with whom we have collaborated on several projects, including our TALOS III: Science Fiction Theatre Festival of London. The Staged Reading was directed by Justin Murray, who is experienced with directing ancient Greek dramas, including with his own company Catharsis. Orla Sanders had the parts of Hippo and the Nurse, Alex Andreou played Melanippe’s grandfather Hellen and Robin King was Melanippe’s father Aeolus, King of Aeolis; Harold Addo performed the Shepherd. The Chorus was jointly performed by Orla Sanders and Harold Addo. Bee performed a Melanippe bursting with both youthfulness and maturity of thought; Orla performed a powerful dea ex machina, the prophesising talking horse Hippo via physical theatre; Alex’s Hellen was a merciless and fearsome father of all Greeks; Robin recreated a most Euripidean King Aeolus, struggling with guilt and indecisiveness, and placing too much trust on his father; Harold portrayed a truly puzzled Shepherd as well as a conformist male chorus together with Orla. There was genuine enthusiasm from the artists; Bee has written on the play and her role in her blog and Alex shared on his Twitter account his reaction on performing the reconstructed character of Hellen: ‘‘I’m in this. … I get to create a Euripides role. And that doesn’t happen often, let me tell you. Come, see and hear a little piece of history.’’
After this first presentation of the play, we received constructive feedback from both general non-specialist audience and peers from academia and the theatre industry; we had invited classicists and theatre practitioners to share their thoughts. It has been heart-warming to receive positive reviews from peers; By Jove Theatre Company wrote: ‘‘Congratulations to Andriana Domouzi and Christos Callow Jr on a fantastic reading of Melanippe Wise, very inspiring work! Fantastic story of female wisdom triumphing over male hypocrisy and mob ignorance.’’ Apart from social media targeted ads, we had also advertised the event at the relevant international mailing lists; through these channels, several colleagues and artists outside of the UK had reached out (both before and after the event) to express their interest, requesting to be kept updated regarding the full production and the subsequent publication of the play. The event was fully booked well in advance and we had received requests to operate a waiting list – which we did and could happily offer a few last-minute cancelled tickets to people from the list. We are delighted that our Staged Reading gained such attention and that my research contributed to theatre audiences discovering an unconventional and remarkable lost tragedy of Euripides.
A full documentation of the reconstruction and the creative process for the creation of our Melanippe Wise will be given in a chapter I am co-authoring with Christos; this will be published in 2021 in the collective volume Tragedy Resurrected that I am currently editing (De Gruyter; series: Trends in Classics~Pathways of Reception 5). We are also making further plans for a full run of the play.
We are very grateful to the ICS, whose public engagement grant contributed to paying our creatives: Greek bagpipe specialist Thodoris Ziarkas, award-winning illustrating duo Sinjin Li who designed a bespoke poster, and photographer Matei Răducanu; the grant also covered part of our travelling and printing expenses as well as social media ads. The workshops and the Staged Reading were further funded by the University of Derby’s College of Arts, Humanities & Education Research Fund.
by Andriana Domouzi (@andrianadmz)
Image credits Matei Răducanu
Poster design & graphics: Sinjin Li
Under normal circumstances, the ICS hosts visitors from all over the world, although the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has interrupted this element of our activities. In this post Academic Visitor Nikoline Sauer (Aarhus University) shares her experience of visiting London pre- and post-lockdown.
This spring, I spent three months as an Academic Visitor at the Institute of Classical Studies (March 1 – May 31). The research stay was part of my PhD studies at the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions at Aarhus University, Denmark, where I investigate the Archaic period in Rome (c. 6th century BCE) through a case study of the Forum of Caesar. As I am now in the third and final year of my studies, I have reached the writing phase of project, and needed an outstanding library in Classical Studies. The purpose of my stay at the ICS was therefore to make use of the world-class library while also experiencing a new research environment.
During the first few weeks of my stay at the Senate House, located in the fashionable Bloomsbury neighbourhood, everything proceeded as planned. I went to the library, attended seminars, and ate my lunch at the British Museum across the street from the institute. In my second week there, I gave a talk as part of the ICS Fellows’ Seminar series, entitled “Rome Was Not Built in a Day: The Urban Development of Rome in the Archaic period (620–480 BCE)”. The talk was well attended and the comments very useful. But on March 20, the ICS was forced to close by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I spend the rest of my stay in London in relative isolation (though accompanied by my boyfriend) in our apartment on Broadway Market in southern Hackney. What was supposed to be a research stay became instead a writing retreat. The lockdown gave me time to finish up the first two articles of my article-based dissertation, as well as completing a rough draft of the third article and several other minor projects.
My dissertation is about Archaic Rome. The Archaic period is conventionally known as the short interval between the end of the Iron Age and the beginning of the Republican period. It was a time of major changes in Rome, as the city began to stand out among the other Etruscan and Latial cities in central Italy, by dint of its monumental public buildings and rapid population growth. The later literary tradition, such as Livy’s Ab urbe condita (written 27–9 BCE), played a crucial role in the commemoration of Archaic Rome, profoundly influencing the modern interpretation of archaeological data. The dissertation aims to study Archaic Rome through a solely archaeological approach, combining traditional archaeological findings with state-of-the-art scientific methods, in order to circumvent the skewed image of the period produced by ancient literature. The subject is investigated through four interlinked articles, which will be published independently.
My PhD project is also part of The Caesar’s Forum Project, which excavates in the Forum of Caesar in the centre of Rome. The forum was founded by Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) in the Late Republican period, creating a precedent for the subsequent four Imperial Forums. The ongoing project aims to provide new insights into the site and its long-term development by studying the previously unexcavated third of the site. The Forum of Caesar is an especially rich archaeological site, and previous excavations have revealed some of the best-preserved remains from the Archaic period. The site is, therefore, the point of departure for several of the articles in my dissertation.
I very much hope that I can revisit the ICS at a later time, especially since my stay there was cut short by the worldwide lockdown. Still, I managed to make the most of my stay in London, turning it into an intensive writing retreat, with plenty of time to think about Archaic Rome on my walks along Regent’s Canal.
by Nikoline Sauer
ICS Director Prof. Greg Woolf shares some thoughts on the Institute’s ongoing work in the era of physical distancing.
Fans of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels might remember his idea of entire civilizations, at an advanced point in their development, choosing to ‘sublime’. The Sublimed abandoned their physical and material existence to inhabit remote dimensions from which they might occasionally intervene, in a disembodied way, in the universe they had left behind.
The ICS itself relinquished its physical form on 20th March 2020 when Senate House was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physically we are scattered from Ireland and Scotland to Scandinavia and Canada, with a cluster of bodies in and around London. Virtually, however, we are everywhere and nowhere. But like Banks’ Sublimed we are still very much involved.
Our abrupt removal to cyberspace has made us reflect on what the Institute can and cannot do, from our new utopia, in the classical sense of “no-space”. This is the first sudden change in our operations in quite a while. Like most institutions – especially in Higher Education and particularly in the UK – our role has developed incrementally over the two generations of our existence. Since its creation in 1953 by the Hellenic and Roman Societies in concert with the University of London, the Institute has altered as its three parents have evolved. Over the same time both the nature of Classics and of British universities has quietly been transformed. When we were founded, less than 5% of the UK population went to university. Today the figure is over 50%. Classical subjects are now taught in more British universities than ever before. Classical studies today is itself far more capacious than it was in the 1950s, socially, intellectually and pedagogically. In its current manifestation our subject remains highly successful, whether measured by the number of school leavers who want to study it, or by the quality and impact of our research on the wider public. But classical studies is not the same as it was, and that is a good thing. As we interrogate our disciplinary entanglement with the politics of class, imperialism and race, classical studies will change even more in the future, perhaps even finding a new name and identity for itself in the process. The ICS will change along with this.
Right now the ICS is a part of a School of Advanced Study, founded in 1995. We have a national mission, funded currently by Research England, to serve the entire UK research community in classics and (with our sister institutes) in the humanities more widely. Perhaps Utopia is not a bad place from which to do that? The rents are cheaper here, and as a Sublimed Entity we are equally close to everyone. These last few months we have carried on many of the things we did before. Grants for conferences and public engagement activities continue to be disbursed. Our publications are more widely read than ever, and more of them than ever before are now available through Open Access.
Necessity has shown us the potential of technologies that already existed. Our librarians now carry out searches of our specialist databases on behalf of remote readers. They have also been providing directions to the many materials available for free in digital form. All the SAS libraries have been discovering new ways to serve readers at a distance. Those of us who teach have become used to doing so over all sorts of technologies. The training courses we are currently running – on line of course – were oversubscribed to nearly 500 %. We are exploring new ways to hold workshops on line, beginning with one entitled Towards a more Inclusive Classics. I recently chaired a PhD viva in which the candidate, examiners and supervisors were distributed across four countries.
Next term most of our seminar series will take place online. This will be odd at first, but already some advantages are apparent. We will be inviting more speakers from overseas. Sound quality should be better – we really should have been using microphones already to make our seminars more accessible. Almost none of our seminars were recorded or livestreamed (The Digital Classicist showed us the way). Now most will be, so that those who need or wish to can listen to them later. We are becoming asynchronous as well as utopian. Events – once a tightly time-tabled series of face to face meetings in one or another nook or cranny of Senate House – will become a cloud of potential attractions. Attending will be more like sampling Netflix than committing to a weekly routine.
The Sublimed in Iain M. Banks’ novels had made a one-way journey. Once gone, they stayed gone. Our Utopia will be temporary, although we do not yet know exactly when we shall come back to earth, or under which constraints we shall be when we return. My guess is that some new habits will be hard to break. Committees, which often consumed much of the day for non-London members, are now much easier to attend virtually especially for those with busy home-lives and/or hectic work schedules. Perhaps more readers too will get used to mailing requests for PDFs and other materials rather than trekking in to Bloomsbury. The viewing figures for the Digital Classicist show us we can reach much larger audiences if we livestream and record seminars. Perhaps a little bit of Utopia is here to stay.
But we are not ready to give up entirely on a physical home. Many of the collections in our Library are stubbornly physical. Journal runs that go back decades, yellowing epigraphic corpora, the masses of glossy exhibition catalogues and excavation reports will all demand that readers attend in person. Classicists are fundamentally a textual community and as long as enough of our texts are physically located somewhere, we will need to visit them. The same is even more true of the material traces of the past which play a greater and greater part in our teaching, learning and research.
And besides we still have a physical need to be together. My colleague Barry Smith, who directs the Institute of Philosophy, is fond of saying that we are not ‘socially distancing’ but rather ‘physically distancing’. He is right, of course, and in some ways we are currently being very social. The number of people I interact with each week through one medium or another remains high. These meetings do much more than exchange information and make collective decisions. In local and national meetings (see how difficult it is to shake pre-utopian expressions?) I watch colleagues laugh, express frustration, give each other encouragement and reassurance, share anxieties and generally care for each other. Even virtually we are continuing the social grooming that we normally do in and around committees, exam boards, and seminars. Humans can no more gather without doing this, than we can walk into a room without immediately noting who is present, who is talking to whom, and who are keeping apart. Our ancestors did all this in different settings. But we are not fully acclimatised to our new disembodied environment. Our social faculties are inhibited by the difficulties of picking up on the subtleties of body-language. In larger meetings in particular it is now more difficult to read the room, to notice when people lean in, or lean back, to spot the microgestures of agreement and dissent, of collusion and distancing. No-space is still an imperfect social space. It has proved difficult to have a meeting of minds when our bodies are so far apart.
Before COVID, the ICS was a place of serendipity. Researchers in London on other business, would often take the chance for a few hours or even a few days at the ICS, catching a seminar or looking something up in the library. Conversations over coffee piggy-backed on chance encounters between colleagues. Students might meet casually with experts in their fields, authors with editors, former colleagues would reconnect. Sometimes this led to collaborations, more often we just tried out ideas on each other, asked advice, and did that social grooming that all communities need once in a while.
It has turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined to bump into colleagues accidentally on the internet, or to collar just one person for a few minutes after a meeting. At our last Advisory Council we were discussing the ICS seminars, how to make them more accessible and how to involve more people. The question of networking came up. Seminars are valued, at least in part, as meeting places, occasions when we come together, when new members are introduced into the group, when e-mail pals make closer connections face to face. It seems paradoxical that at time when our communication as a virtual community is literally managed mostly through actual networks, we are noticing more than ever the limits of the virtual and the downsides of the Sublime. It has been interesting spending some time in Utopia, but it has made me realise more clearly the value of our non-virtual existence. I am looking forward to coming back to earth.
by Greg Woolf
Making Roman Crowns: Lessons from Roman Floral Design: Building Sustainable Floristry Today (Part II)
Dr. Patty Baker (University of Kent) shares an update on the progress of her ICS-funded public-facing project exploring Roman floral design.
Surviving images from the Greco-Roman world often portray deities, women, men, and emperors wearing crowns made of laurel, olive branches, grape vines, and flowers. Garlands consisting of greenery, fruit, and flowers are depicted adorning temples and altars, as well as acting as frames around scenes on mosaics and fresco paintings. Ancient writers also discussed the significance of crowns and garlands for different occasions, including births, weddings, dinner parties, military honours, religious festivals, headache remedies, and funerals (e.g. Athenaeus Deip. 14. 629e; Aulus Gellius 5. 6; Hor. Carm. 3.25.20, 4.8.3; Pliny HN 16. 4; 21. 8; 21. 28-29). Combined, the sources indicate that the Greeks, and particularly the Romans, had a great appreciation for adorning themselves and their structures with natural elements.
The flowers and greenery they used in their crowns and garlands held symbolic meanings. For example, laurel and olive represented victory, and the goddess Ceres was celebrated with wheat. Even today, crowns and garlands are used for weddings, holidays, and music festivals. Yet, unlike Roman designs that were completely biodegradable and held together with linen, papyrus, or palm fibres, modern flower crowns and garlands are joined with wire and tape, which are polluting. Many florists are developing sustainable methods to help the global business become environmentally sound. To assist in this movement, I believe that much can be learnt from the history of floral design.
In November 2019, I wrote my first blogpost related to the generous funding I received to teach Roman floral design to the Canterbury Flower Club, florists, and flower growers. At that time, I held a trial event with interested friends. In January and February, I led the two funded workshops. The first was to a group of ten participants that included florists, growers, and interested students. The second was to a group of twenty members of the Canterbury Flower Club. I began both events with a PowerPoint presentation that covered topics on the imagery of crowns and garlands, descriptions of their functions as mentioned in the ancient literature, and the archaeological evidence for the greenery and flowers that were commonly used in the ornaments. Following this, I gave a short demonstration explaining my interpretation of how the crowns were made. Unfortunately, the ancient writers did not describe the techniques used for making them. Virgil indicated that the flowers were woven together but said nothing further (Aen. 5. 556; Georg 3. 21). Pliny the Elder said that rose petals were sewn together for the festival of the Salii, a celebration in honour of the god Mars (HN 21. 8).
In comparison to the literature, ancient images give us a somewhat better idea of how the crowns were woven, and I used these to develop my experimental archaeological techniques. A handful of images from fresco paintings in Pompeii and mosaics from North Africa and Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy, depict cupids sitting below either a wooden frame or a pole with long strands of flowers hanging from them. The cupids are shown pulling a flower strand towards them and appear to be weaving other flowers into the strand. Since all of the images I have found are similar, this suggests that this was the common method used for crown and garland construction. Unfortunately, the images are not clear enough to determine precisely how the flowers were woven into their base. To ascertain how this might have been done, I explored other methods used for making crowns today, and the one comparable technique that seems likely is from the South Pacific and Hawaiian Islands. In these places, flowers are tied to braided bases made of palm fibres. Having undertaken this research, I was keen to share my interpretation about the possible methods used in Roman crown construction with floral design experts to receive feedback on my ideas, and to see if others had thoughts on alternative techniques.
For the recreation, I braided three strands of raffia together for the base. Raffia is a palm fibre that originates from Madagascar and was the closest material I could find to simulate other types of palm fibres that were available to the Romans. I left long strands at both ends so that the crown could be tied to the head without crushing flowers against the head. To make the braided base, I found it useful to tie the top end to a kitchen cabinet handle or the back of a chair in order to create the tension needed to weave the strands together tightly. This also simulated the wooden frame shown in the Roman images. I then tied one strand of raffia to the top end of the base, based on the Polynesian technique, which is used to tie the flowers and foliage into the base of the crown.
For the workshops, I made the bases of the crowns for the participants to save on time. Similar to the images of the cupids, we all wove the materials onto the base from the top working our way down to the bottom. The materials were only placed on one side of the base, so that the crown would rest against the head comfortably without the flowers being crushed.
The flowers and greenery were added in the following manner. The first flower was placed at the top of the base and the extra strand of raffia was wrapped two or three times around its stem to hold it in place. The stems were kept about an inch in length. The second was placed slightly below and to the left of the central flower. Again the strand of raffia was wrapped two or three times around the stem. The third flower was placed slightly below the second and to the right of the middle flower. After the stem was wrapped, a knot was placed in the strand to secure the flowers further. These three steps were repeated to the end, leaving strands unadorned at the bottom so that the two ends could be tied together, as mentioned above. Most of the participants found the technique tedious at first especially since they were familiar with wire and tape. However, once they became comfortable with it, they wove faster and created beautiful crowns.
All but one person tried the method I demonstrated, and they introduced me to a technique that was excellent for weaving garlands. In Roman art, garlands appear to have flowers and greenery on all sides. Rather than using one strand to wrap the flower stems to the base, I was taught to use two strands of raffia to weave them in place. When the flowers and greenery were placed on the base, the ties were criss-crossed over the stems. The base was turned over and flowers were added to the opposite side. Each time the base was turned over the flowers were placed slightly below those that were already tied onto the base. Every so often a knot was tied to secure the flowers. The result was just as full as those seen on Roman images.
The greenery we used was olive, ivy, and eucalyptus nicholii. The latter looks somewhat similar to myrtle, which was also common in ancient crowns. The flowers were white mini carnations and purple lisianthus, both look somewhat similar to wild roses, also popular with the Romans. Gypsophila was added as a filler flower.
These crowns have a few added bonuses in comparison to those that are made of tape and wire. First, they are fully compostable. Second, they last longer, particularly if the raffia is moist. Third, if crowns are needed for a couple of days, these can be sprayed with water and placed in refrigeration when they are not worn. Finally, they dry well for anyone wishing to keep them for an extended period of time. In fact, it seems as if the Romans did keep their crowns, or at least those awarded to them, because it was mentioned in the Twelve Tables that if someone was granted a crown in their lifetime, it could be placed on their heads for their funeral procession (Cicero De Leg 2. 24; Pliny HN 21. 5).
The events were successful. Not only was I able to bring the subject of classics to the public, but, importantly, teaching through experimental archaeology allowed me to introduce a sustainable practice to a business looking for change. Another significant point is that it showed the relevance of history and archaeology to modern environmental issues.
by Patty Baker
(All image credits Patty Baker.)
Dr. Liz Potter, ICS Publications Manager, reports on an initiative to make the Institute’s publications freely accessible online.
In the UK and EU, there are a range of initiatives currently aiming to make research widely and freely accessible to all. Publishing on an ‘Open Access’ (OA) basis makes research outputs free at the point of use, and thus aims to maximise their impact. OA publication is concerned to make research more easily accessible and reusable for as wide a range of audiences as possible—for research, for innovation, for teaching, and to support public engagement.
In line with these initiatives, the ICS is starting to make its publications available on an Open Access basis. The Institute’s activities have included publication since its early days: the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (BICS) was first published in 1954; and the Bulletin’s associated Supplements have been published on an occasional basis since 1955. For our Open Access work, we are starting with our recent Supplements.
We are publishing these Supplements via the Humanities Digital Library. This is the Open Access publishing platform for the University of London Press. Six of the research institutes which make up the University’s School of Advanced Study have Open Access publications on the platform: ourselves, the Institute of Historical Research, the Institute of Advanced Legal Study, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the Institute of English Studies, and the Institute of Latin American Studies. The Institute thus benefits from its connections with the wider University by being part of this platform, cross-referencing its publications with those of other Institutes, for example.
BICS Supplements available Open Access
To date, we have made available the following titles. They are all free to access as PDF versions online, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. There are also links on the site to purchase the title in book form for those who wish.
Eros and the Polis (BICS Supplement 119)
The articles in this edited volume take a historicizing approach to the conventions and expectations or erôs in the archaic and classical polis. Focusing on the poetic genres, they pursue issues including: the connection between homosexual erôs and politics; sexual practices that fell outside societal norms; the roles of sôphrosynê (self-control) and akrasia (incontinence) in erotic relationships; and the connection between erôs and other socially important emotions such as charis, philia, and storgê.
Creating Ethnicities and Identities in the Roman World (BICS Supplement 120)
This volume explores how practices of ethnic categorization formed part of Roman strategies of control across their expanding empire. It also considers how people living in particular places internalized these identities and developed their own sense of belonging to an ethnic community.
Persuasive Language in Cicero’s Pro Milone (BICS Supplement 121)
This innovative approach to Cicero’s persuasive language applies ideas from modern linguistics to one of his most important speeches. The reading of Pro Milone which emerges not only contributes to our understanding of late republican discourse, but also suggests a new methodology for using the study of language and style to illuminate literary/historical aspects of texts.
The Digital Classicist 2013 (BICS Supplement 122)
This wide-ranging volume showcases exemplary applications of digital scholarship to the ancient world and critically examines the many challenges and opportunities afforded by such research. As such it is a contribution to the development of scholarship both in the fields of classical antiquity and in Digital Humanities more broadly.
Profession and Performance (BICS Supplement 123)
This volume brings together six papers relating to oratory, orators, and oratorical delivery in the public fora of classical Greece and Rome. They range from the Athenian courts and Assembly to Cicero’s Rome, from the ‘Second Sophistic’ to the late Roman Empire. A final paper reflects on the continuing relevance of rhetoric in the modern, highly professionalized practice of the law in England.
Marathon: 2,500 Years (BICS Supplement 124)
This volume includes twenty-one papers originally presented at a colloquium in the Peloponnese in 2010 to mark the 2,500th anniversary of the battle of Marathon. It is a celebration of Marathon and its reception from classical antiquity to the present era.
Our aim is to publish more of our recent backlist on this platform in the coming months. Watch this space!
The BICS Mycenaean Studies
As I’ve previously reported on this blog, the abstracts from the ICS Mycenaean Seminar are also now published online on Humanities Digital Library. The seminar has been convened by the Institute since the 1950s, and summaries of the seminars have been published as part of BICS since 1963. Starting with the 2015-16 series, the Mycenaean summaries are now published separately online, and become far more widely available as Open Access publications. Click these links to read The BICS Mycenaean Seminar 2015-16 and The BICS Mycenaean Seminar 2016-17; the summaries of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 year are coming soon!
by Liz Potter
Dr. Adrastos Omissi (University of Glasgow) shares some thoughts on the re-enactment of ancient battles, after hosting an event funded by an ICS public engagement grant.
One of the very real problems with studying accounts of military conflict, in any age, is that narratives relating to the battlefield experience can seem bafflingly difficult to square with any vision we might possess of what mass violence looks like. This problem is less pronounced for those who study warfare in the modern period. Academics rarely have direct experience of warfare but they can nonetheless draw on interaction with those that do have such experience, so that a historian of – say – the Falklands War can supplement traditional study of archival documents relating to battles and combat with interviews or even conversations with individuals who actually experienced those battles first hand. The mysteries of combat are likely to remain mysterious (indeed, it is striking that combat often retains its mystery and irrealism even in the minds of those who have firsthand knowledge of it), but basic mechanical questions and more profound psychological questions have answers that can be sought, however imperfectly.
For pre-modern warfare, these resources evaporate. No one alive on the planet today can claim any direct knowledge of what it is like to stand in a Classical Greek phalanx or to receive the charge of a body of medieval knights. And so the questions that arise from the study of pre-modern warfare are far harder to answer. Why did pre-modern armies go to the trouble of making bolt throwing machines, when, for a considerably lower investment of men and resources, one could use a body of archers who would be more mobile, whose weapons are easier and safer to operate, and who could put orders of magnitude more darts into the air? Why didn’t everyone who had access to them use war elephants since – on contact with an elephant in a zoo – one could be forgiven for assuming that any army that employed them as weapons of war would be unstoppable? Why could Roman armies routinely defeat much larger forces of Gallic tribesmen, whose warriors were universally declared by the Romans themselves to be larger, stronger, and more inured to physical suffering than were Roman warriors?
It was with questions like this in mind that I organised, with the generous sponsorship of an ICS Public Engagement Grant, an event at the Hunterian Museum of the University of Glasgow entitled ‘Acts of War: Understanding Ancient Warfare through Re-Enactment’. Its aim was to explore how simulated experience of battle and of military life could enrich our understanding of the mechanics and dynamics of pre-modern warfare. The evening featured talks from me, from the YouTuber Nikolas Lloyd (aka Lindybeige), and from Glasgow teacher Martin McCafferty, also known as centurion Gnaeus Pinarius of the Antonine Guard.
I spoke first, mostly to introduce my two speakers but also to give a little bit of reflection on perhaps the most ubiquitous form of modern battle re-enactment, that is the staging of battles in film and television. For anyone alive today, cinematic battle provides the primary – if not the only – visual touchstone in imagining what John Keegan called ‘the face of battle’. And as anyone who has made even passing study of the history of warfare quickly comes to realise, whatever a pre-modern battle looked like, it cannot possibly have looked like that. Cinematic violence consistently portrays two lines of soldiers charging at one another and then intermingling into a mad melee of individual duels in which formation is forgotten and friend can only be told from foe thanks to the costume department’s efforts to dress each side very differently. But under such conditions, why would anyone go into battle carrying a standard, or a trumpet (as we know many did)? What purpose would reserves serve, if battles were decided by sheer weight of slaughter? And how can we explain the frequent accounts of battles in which no one – or very few people – actually died, as in 55 BC when 300 of Caesar’s soldiers fought the Morini for more than four hours, and not a single Roman died?
Having posed these questions as food for thought, I handed over to Nikolas Lloyd. Lloyd – more generally known by his YouTube soubriquet Lindybeige – has had a lifetime of experience of what one might call ‘playing at war’. He spoke to us about wargaming and how his own efforts to write wargames rules drew him deep into the study of battle mechanics. He also talked about traditional re-enactment and the importance of actually handling the weapons and armour that ancient and medieval people used in order to understand what one can and cannot do with it. But to my mind his most valuable and interesting insights came from his experiences with LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing). Though traditionally thought of, if it is thought of at all, as a fantasy game (Dungeons & Dragons, but outside), many LARPers engage in – often very largescale – recreations of battles in which each side competes to win and there are rules that govern ‘killing’ enemies and so forth. Whilst no one on a LARPer’s battlefield is afraid for their life (a hugely important dynamic all too often missed in the study of warfare), LARPing nonetheless recreates, in a way that virtually nothing else can, many of the conditions of a pre-modern battle, gathering large numbers of people together to ‘fight’ an enemy en masse. Lloyd stressed, for instance, the total supremacy of communication as a weapon of war, and provided examples of fights he had participated in where, in terms of position, weapons, and ability to wield them, he had been on the clearly superior side, but had nevertheless lost because he and his fellow combatants were surprised by enemy troop manoeuvres and confused because, from within the press of massed ranks and the sensory deprivation of armour and helmet, they could neither see nor hear what was actually going on.
Finally, we were treated to a talk on Roman military life from Martin McCafferty, aka Gnaeus Pinarius of the Antonine Guard. The Antonine Guard are Scotland’s Roman re-enactment society and have nearly 25 years of experience Roman re-enactment. Martin himself is a long-time member of the guard, and he was kind enough to deliver his talk in full arms and armour: his bright red centurion’s transverse crest on his helmet, his red soldier’s cloak over dark mail, and a number of phalera – the Roman equivalent of medals – on his chest. He also brought with him his huge shield (scutum), throwing spear (pilum), short sword (gladius), dagger (pugio), and the characteristic short stick (vitis) of the centurion. Helping him manoeuvre these items through a crowded museum and its glass fronted display cases was a hair raising experience. Martin talked about the arms and armour, about the stresses and complications of wearing it – Roman sandals, we learn, are not comfortable things – and about some of the basic practices of camp life, including what it is like to sleep in a Roman tent and to bake Roman bread for dinner after a long day’s marching. These insights help to humanise the lives and the stresses of the Roman soldier, and make them more intimate and relatable.
We had some fifty attendees for the evening, both members of the public and students of the university. After all the talks were finished, a number of people joined us in a nearby pub where we were able to continue the lively discussion that had been started in the Hunterian. I think many people were very excited to meet Lloyd – who, with a YouTube channel now approaching one million subscribers, is something of a celebrity, particularly among the re-enactment community – but for me the evening was a fantastic chance also to meet members of the public, to share with them some of the fruits of my research, but above all to hear and learn from them. The depth of knowledge and the passion for historical study that I encountered that evening really impressed me, and it was such a welcome opportunity to share experiences with people not involved in university life, people from whom we as researchers can often feel very detached.
I would like to express my thanks to the Hunterian Museum, whose Deputy Director Mungo Campbell was incredibly hospitable in placing at our disposal both the palatial surroundings of the museum itself and the time and energies of its staff. Holding and event such as this surrounded by beautiful displays of bronze age weaponry and the Hunterian’s exquisite Antonine Wall display gave the whole proceeding an air of considerable gravitas. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the ICS, whose funding made the event possible.
by Adrastos Omissi
Professor Neville Morley (University of Exeter) introduces a new staging of Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue, to be performed to the public in London on 21st February 2020. This follows on from his earlier work sharing Thucydides with wider audiences, which was supported by an ICS small grant for public engagement.
The Melian Dialogue is one of the most famous and influential sections of Thucydides’ history; the idea that justice is relevant only between equals, and otherwise the strong exact what they want and the weak just have to endure it, has shaped the way that many people (especially in superpowers) think about the world. All too often, however, such readings overlook the fact that it’s a dialogue, a dramatic exchange between two different ways of viewing the world – neither of which can be assumed without question to be Thucydides’ own perspective. And, like any dramatic piece, it has the potential to be staged in different ways, to draw out different themes and questions; we don’t have to think of these ideas just in terms of international conflict and war, when the confrontation of power and weakness is replicated in many other areas of life…
Do What You Must will stage multiple versions of Thucydides’ drama, exploring different aspects and contemporary echoes, and bringing the text to life in unexpected ways. What those ways will be remains to be seen: the performance on Friday 21st February will be the product of a week of intensive workshopping and rehearsal, organised by the theatre group Arch 468 in collaboration with Neville Morley of the University of Exeter, who has been studying the modern reception and interpretation of Thucydides for over ten years. This is part of a wider project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, to explore how Thucydides can help us develop a better understanding of politics and the world if his work is presented and interpreted in new ways.
This one-off performance will be recorded for posterity (so this won’t be your only chance to experience it…) and followed by a discussion of power, justice, the staging of classical texts and the continuing influence of ancient ideas, with Edith Hall (KCL), Emma Cole (Bristol), the director Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and Neville Morley.
Friday 21st February, 15:00; New Diorama Theatre, 15-16 Triton Street, London NW1 3BF
by Neville Morley
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Friends, Romans, and the Launching of ‘Lessons from Roman Floral Design: Building Sustainable Floristry Today’
Dr. Patty Baker (University of Kent) is a recent recipient of one of the ICS’s small grants for public engagement. In this post she reports on a trial event in which she used her research into ancient Roman floral design to open up a conversation about sustainable floristry in the modern world.
The sight and scent of flowers growing in nature or arranged into bouquets can enhance anyone’s mood. Flowers are admired throughout the world and hold various meanings in different societies. For example, the symbolism of heaven and earth are prevalent design elements in Japanese Ikebana. In spite of the popularity of flowers, the business of floral design is far from environmentally friendly.
Floristry is a global industry. It relies upon large-scale flower farming and long-haul transportation. Non-biodegradable plastics and tapes are used in the construction of flower designs, and the waste created by the leaves and stems is sometimes not composted. Due to the environmental impact, there is a growing movement by florists to use locally grown, seasonal flowers and to create designs with biodegradable materials. Historical knowledge of flower growing and methods of design can contribute to this development.
The Romans were fond of their gardens, floral garlands and crowns, and attempting to learn their methods can help us create new ways of approaching sustainable floral design today. With this in mind, I applied for, and was generously awarded, funding from the Institute of Classical Studies to run a public engagement project, Lessons from Roman Floral Design: Building Sustainable Floristry Today.
In January and February 2020, I will hold two workshops to teach local florists and the Canterbury Flower Club about Roman crowns and garlands. There are two aspects to the project. First, teaching the subjects of Roman gardens and flower design is a unique way to present the ancient world to artisans whose work is informed by modern fashion trends. Second, introducing past methods of flower construction can help florists learn about some environmentally sustainable techniques that they might wish to incorporate into their own work.
The project brings together two strands of my work experience. My research focuses on Greco-Roman medicine, health, and wellbeing. Recent publications explore the sensory experiences the Romans had in their gardens that they believed contributed to their mental and physical health. Aside from my research, one of my hobbies is floral design, a skill I gained when I was an undergraduate and worked for a florist during summers and holidays. The combination of my research with my hobby, has led to a project in experimental archaeology where I have attempted to learn the Roman methods of making crowns and garlands. To do this, I examined the limited descriptions of them in the texts of Pliny the Elder and Aulus Gellius, for example. In comparison, the surviving representations of crowns and garlands on fresco paintings, mosaics, and sculpture, gave me further insights into the techniques used in their construction.
Although the funded workshops do not take place until early 2020, I held a practice session with five friends on Saturday, 19th of October 2019. When I mentioned the project to them, they were enthusiastic about the idea and wanted to learn about it themselves. None of them works in fields related to ancient history or archaeology, making this good practice for the workshops I will lead. Moreover, my friends have interests in gardening, health, and crafts, which align closer with my research than with the traditional ancient history lessons they were taught in school that focused on politics, famous men, and warfare. To them, these traditional topics made the ancient world ‘dry’ and uninteresting. Therefore, these alternative subjects are a way of making the Greco-Roman past exciting and relevant to their interests.
One friend kindly offered her farm for the day. I began with a presentation about Roman gardens and how the Romans believed green spaces contributed to their mental and physical wellbeing. I wanted my friends to learn that the Romans saw themselves as part of nature rather than separate from it, something we tend to do in the modern world. An awareness of this historical shift in attitude is important for environmental action because it can make us rethink how we situate ourselves in relation to nature.
I thought the introduction would take about an hour. Yet, it lasted for over two. The conversation was lively, and everyone made insightful comparisons between ancient and modern practices and beliefs in relation to their life and work. For example, one, a holistic medical practitioner, pointed out similarities between the medical philosophies of her job with Roman conceptions of healthy spaces.
After this, we paused for lunch. Since I have an interest in Roman sensory experiences, I was also curious about how my friends would react to Roman food. The menu, based on recipes from Varro, Cato the Elder, and Apicius, consisted of two types of bread: libum, a cheese bread made for festivals, and simple flat breads with moretum, a cheese ball with celery and coriander leaves rolled into it. Two vegetable dishes accompanied this. One was broad beans cooked with a sauce of ginger, garum (East Asian fish sauce was the substitute), lovage, pepper, honey, white wine, and vinegar. The other was lentils with a chestnut sauce. The main dish was dill chicken. Lunch concluded with grapes, walnuts, and dates stuffed with ground pine nuts, walnuts, and pepper, rolled in honey and salt (I highly recommend this recipe by Apicius 7.13.1 for a holiday treat). Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the flavours. The meal led to discussions about different conceptions of healthy diets, the types of foods that were grown in Roman gardens, and how knowledge of Roman gardening might inform how people grow food in their own gardens.
We concluded the day making Roman flower crowns, something none of them had done before. I taught one method I thought the Romans might have used, which I will describe in my forthcoming blogs on the funded project. We experimented with greenery mentioned by ancient writers: parsley (Athenaeus Deip. 14. 629e; Pliny HN 21. 29) and ivy (Pliny HN 16.4;21. 28; Ovid. Tristia 7; Hor. Carm. 3.25.20, 4.8.33). For the flowers, we used daisy chrysanthemums and white carnations. The chrysanthemums replaced daisies, which are found in the garden fresco from Livia’s villa at Prima Porta. The carnations were a modern addition in an attempt to simulate small roses that Pliny the Elder mentioned were ideal for crowns (Pliny HN 21. 8, 14-21).
The day was a success. It not only brought to life the ancient world in a creative way, but it allowed my friends to develop a new skill, as well as to consider and discuss the global issue of environmental sustainability from a new perspective. Yet, the real indicator of achievement was when I received a thank you email from one of my friends telling me she wore her crown to a dinner party that lasted well into the early hours of the morning. If only she had a dining couch.
by Patty Baker