Lectures and Performances
Prof. Rachel Friedman, Vassar College
"Derek Walcott’s Odyssey and the Postcolonial Recovery of Classical Greek Texts"
In the fall of 2008, Prof. Friedman of Vassar College joined Prof. Arnush's CG 311 Herodotus class to discuss the implications of the Persian Wars for the Greeks. Friedman also gave a presentation to the campus community on Derek Walcott's "Stage Version" of the Odyssey, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and first performed in 1992, specifically Walcott's characterization of Odysseus as a wandering hero extremely ambivalent about his return home to Ithaka. Friedman considered whether Walcott's reading of Odysseus might be seen as emerging from Homer's poem and suggested some of the ways such a reading can help us access aspects of the ancient texts from a postcolonial perspective.
Prof. Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Union College
"Roman Law and Roman History: Debt-Bondage and Sexual Politics"
We were delighted to welcome Prof. Mueller, our colleague at nearby Union College, to deliver the 13th annual Classical World lecture. Tied closely to the CC200 Classical World course, this distinctive lecture is presented by a well-respected teacher-scholar and Prof. Mueller did not disappoint. He focused on the historical evidence for the abolition of debt-bondage in ancient Rome, visiting fundamental issues in Roman historiography, the fragments of the Twelve Tables, the introduction of metal coinage, same-sex desire, forced-sex work, and the intersections of sexual politics with the history of Roman law. After the lecture, Prof. Mueller joined 20 students and the departmental faculty for a delightful dinner at a nearby restaurant.
In the spring of 2009, students in CC200 The Classical World hosted a mini-marathon, four-hour reading of Books 9-12 and 22 of Homer’s Odyssey. Together with musical accompaniment on guitars and ukelele by members of the class, the participants - from the department and the community - offered dramatic readings of Odysseus' adventures with the Cyclops, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and, of course, the defeat of Penelope's suitors.
In the fall of 2008, the students in Prof. Curley's CC222 Greek Tragedy explored the uses and meanings of Greek tragedy throughout the fifth century BCE. The course culminated in a staged production of an original play, written and produced by the students, in English in the style of Athenian tragedy, complete with masks and a Chorus. The tragedy explored the trials of Niobe, the vainglorious queen of Thebes, who boasts too proudly of her seven sons and seven daughters and incurs the wrath of Leto, the divine mother of Apollo and Artemis. How will Leto take revenge? Who will survive? What lessons will be learned? Over 100 students and faculty witnessed a sterling performance in Gannett Lobby, yet another example of the fine work our budding playwrights and actors craft in Prof. Curley's courses on ancient drama.