Jan 14, 2017

January + February 2017

Monday 30 January 2017 at 7:30 pm
The Politics of Fatness in Archaic Greece
Dr. Emily Varto, Associate Professor
Department of Classics, Dalhousie University

This talk explores how modern narratives that imbue fatness with personal and communal ethical significance compare to ancient narratives of fatness, particularly in archaic Greece politics. Through examining art and poetry, it explores how fatness was not exactly a marker of elite status, but was a metaphor of the abuse of status with economic, social, and ethical consequences for family, community, and state. Although elitism was central to the significance of fatness in archaic Greece, so were ideas about uncontrollable appetite, lack of restraint, and communal harm familiar to us from modern narratives about lower socio-economic classes.

Monday 27 February, 2017 at 7:30 pm 
The Silent Grandeur of Cyrene, a Greek City in Libya
Gerald Schaus, Professor Emeritus
Wilfred Laurier University

In 2007. Col. Gaddaffi’s son, Saif, announced a $2 billion plan to turn the ancient Greek city of Cyrene, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, into a popular destination for eco-tourism. Today, the city stands largely deserted in a struggling Libya, despite the grandeur of its monuments, built originally by Greeks from the Aegean islands, and re-built by Italian archaeologists in the 20th century. The temple of Zeus was as large as the Parthenon; the sanctuary of Apollo was home to a gushing spring of water “where the heavens had a hole”, the sanctuary of Demeter reflected the bounty of the fertile land, and people, especially its rulers, became wonderfully wealthy from their harvest of a wild miracle plant called silphium, from which the ancients made medicines of many kinds before it became extinct.

The following talk originally planned for February has been rescheduled to:
Monday 30 October 2017 at 7:30 pm
The Great Mothers:  Mother of the Gods, Rhea, and Cybele in Ancient Athens
Arden Williams
Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies, UBC

The cult of the Mother of the Gods, simply known in Athens as Meter, is one of great antiquity. Meter’s role in the Eleusinian Mysteries connects her both with Rhea, mother of the Olympians, and the family drama of the Eleusinian myth. Across the Aegean, there were also cults of Great Mother goddesses, like that of Cybele, whom the Athenians identified with Meter and Rhea. The Romans had adopted the goddess Cybele in response to a prophecy, but found aspects of her worship disturbing. The situation in Athens was rather different. A small private association in Piraeus established a cult of Cybele as Meter. The documents published by this group offer a glimpse into how the traditional cult of Meter was transformed by the introduction of elements of the cult of Cybele into something distinctly Athenian.