Program Activities

Program Activities
The Classical Studies program sponsors lectures, parties and gatherings throughout the academic year, as well as trips to events in New York City and at Vassar College.  Thanks to the support of the Ottaway Fund, we are able to bring professional theatrical productions to campus on a regular basis.

Activities Gallery

Current and Upcoming Events

NOTE: New location  |  The End of Exoticism in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica


Monday, February 8, 2016

a lecture by Robert Cioffi
NOTE: New location 
Griffins, giraffes, giants, and gymnosophists (naked sages): these are just a few features of the exoticism on display in Heliodorus’ Ethiopian Story (Aethiopica, written 3rd/4th century CE). The latest, longest, and grandest of the Greek novels, the Aethiopica has won many fans, from the renaissance humanist Angelo Poliziano to Racine to Cervantes. Heliodorus’ narrative shows us how the literary horizons of the Roman empire ignited a very particular Greek fictional imaginary about the edges of the earth, and, long before the likes of Said, it leads us to the heart of an exoticizing ethnographic discourse and a discussion of cultural difference. Focusing on the narrative of the tenth and final book of the Aethiopica, I argue that this book represents both the heights of the genre’s exoticism and also, paradoxically, its undoing. The conclusion of the novel, I propose, marks an end in more than one sense, completing a ritual, completing a narrative, and, in a way, completing a genre by transforming its paradigms. As this novel traverses—and writes—the Mediterranean world, I show that it constructs the identity of humans, cultures, and genres, all the while creating social, cultural, and literary networks in the Roman imperial period.
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: Olin, Room 205
Contact: Jamie Romm
E-mail: romm@bard.edu

The Song of Ismenias and the Tragic Destruction of Thebes

Thursday, February 11, 2016

a lecture by Jacqueline Michelle Arthur-Montagne
The destruction of the city of Thebes by Alexander the Great in the Greek Alexander Romance is unlike any other account of the event in ancient histories. In the fictional Romance, Alexander engages in a sophistic debate with the flute-player Ismenias on whether the Thebes of the tragic imagination should be preserved. In this presentation, Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne will investigate how this debate reflects on the value and vitality of Athenian tragedy in Imperial Greece, and why prose fiction becomes the genre in which this tragic legacy is contested.
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: Olin LC 208
Contact: Jamie Romm
E-mail: romm@bard.edu

Shepherds Astray in Tragedy and Epic

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

a lecture by Julia Scarborough
Why do Virgil’s shepherds stop singing and start killing?  In his heroic epic, the Aeneid, we might expect the poet to leave behind the pastoral world of his Eclogues, where peaceful shepherds devote themselves to song.  Instead, at crucial junctures, shepherds enter the action – with catastrophic results, culminating in war between Aeneas’ Trojans and the Italians with whom they are fated to merge in a new Roman nation.  The clash of pastoral and epic has troubled both ancient and modern critics.  Does Virgil simply not know how to start an epic war?  Are the Italian shepherds innocent victims of an imperialist invasion, or are they violent rustics in need of civilizing leadership?  I argue that the key to understanding the role of pastoral in the epic is recognizing a third genre at work: tragedy.  Shepherds in Attic tragedy bring disruption onto the stage; their good intentions combined with inexperience make them dangerous.  This role offers a paradigm for the part played by shepherds in the Aeneid – including the poem’s most important shepherd: Aeneas himself.  Invoking tensions inherent in the figure of the shepherd in tragedy, Virgil transforms the Homeric metaphor of the hero as shepherd of his people to explore the tragic ironies in which Aeneas is implicated as he struggles to fulfill his destiny.
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: Olin LC 208
Contact: Jamie Romm
E-mail: romm@bard.edu