Every God is Plural: Anthropology of Polytheism in Ancient Greece

The three Moirai. Relief, grave of Alexander von der Mark (de) by Johann Gottfried Schadow. / Old National Gallery, Berlin, via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Marcel Detienne Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emeritus Johns Hopkins University The discovery that gods make good objects of research was not made by contemporary anthropology. The very first anthropologists never failed to recommend making an[…]

Shaking an Ancient Cup and Living to Tell the Tale

Rattling Wine Cup, about 350 B.C., Greek (South Italian). Terracotta, 8 7/16 × 11 7/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 86.AE.702 Graduate interns in antiquities conservation and curatorial share what they learned from examining a rattling kantharos. By Julia Commander and Ruth Allen / 04.23.2018 Normal practice when handling ancient artifacts is to move carefully[…]

Anthropology of Ancient Greece

Porch of Maidens, Acroplis, Athens / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Marcel Detienne Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emeritus Johns Hopkins University Our history begins with the Greeks. – Ernest Lavisse Back in the mists of time, long before the emergence of articulate language, the human race discovered that it possessed the power to imagine[…]

Quantifying the Wealth Accumulated by Alexander the Great

The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Frank L. Holt / 04.16.2018 Professor of History University of Houston Socrates believed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Modern technology has morphed that philosophy into a data-driven movement called the Quantified Self. Fitbits and iPhones record our REM sleep, skin[…]

Adonis: A Legendary Love Story

Death of Adonis, by Luca Giordano, c.1685 / The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons By Elias N. Azar / 02.21.2016 Introduction A marble statue of Adonis. 17th century CE restoration of an ancient marble torso. (Louvre Museum, Paris) / Photo by Mary Harrsch, Flickr, Creative Commons The myth of Adonis, a tale as old as time, is a legendary[…]

Early Greek Science: Thales to Plato

Fragment from an ancient copy of Euclid’s Elements / Pinterest, Creative Commons By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia The Milesians Stadium Miletus / Wikimedia Commons The first recorded important contributions to Greek science are from the city of Miletus, near[…]

Ancients, Medievals, and Motion in the Heavens

Celestial map from 1670, by the Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Introduction The purpose of this lecture is just to review the various motions observed in the heavens in the simplest,[…]

Ancient Athens and the Art of Exiling One’s Political Enemies

Ostraka from classical Athens nominating the persons of Kallias and Megakles. Cycladic Art Museum, Athens, Greece/Wikimedia Commons For the first time in recent memory the possibility of imprisoning political rivals has entered the political discourse of a modern western election. But ostracism is an ancient democratic tradition that offers an alternative approach. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 11.22.2016 Professor of Classics La Trobe University Throwing one’s political opponent in jail has[…]

Alexandria, Egypt: The Legacy of Its Great Founder

By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 03.07.2018 Professor of Philosophy Marist College Alexandria is a port city located on the Mediterranean Sea in northern Egypt founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great. It is most famous in antiquity as the site of the Pharos, the great lighthouse, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, for the Temple of Serapis, the Serapion,[…]

Gallipoli, the Beautiful City

Strange as it may seem, many participants at Gallipoli took the time out to ponder the beauty of the landscape. Mattia Notari – Foto If you do a historical study of the Gallipoli battlefields, or even if you are just a passing visitor to the sites, one of the first things to strike you is all the different names. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 07.31.2014 Professor[…]

Picking Sides, or Not, with Alcibiades

Drunken Alcibiades interrupting the Symposium, by Pietra Testa, 1648 / Wikimedia Commons By Mark Cartwright / 02.08.2013 Alcibiades (or Alkibiades) was a gifted and flamboyant Athenian statesman and general whose shifting of sides during the Peloponnesian War in the 5th century BCE earned him a reputation for cunning and treachery. Good looking and rich, he was also notorious for his extravagant lifestyle[…]

The Ancient Greek Lament: From Paganism to Christianity

The Homeric Multitext, Creative Commons By Dr. Margaret Alexiou George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita Harvard University Introduction The function and purpose of the lament changed in accordance with the historical developments of antiquity. What was the impact of the economic, social and religious upheavals which accompanied the decline of[…]

Medea Is as Relevant Today as It Was in Ancient Greece

Helen McCrory as Medea. Richard Hubert Smith/National Theatre By Dr. Laura Swift / 07.23.2014 Lecturer in Classical Studies The Open University Often when ancient plays are updated to a modern setting it can feel unsatisfactory. Frequently there are elements that grate or become implausible, and you’re left feeling that the director is trying too hard to make the[…]

Agathocles: Ancient Sicilian Tyrant of Syracuse

A gold coin from Syracuse depicting the tyrant Agathocles, 310-300 BCE. (Palazzo Blu, Pisa) / Image from Sailko, Wikimedia Commons By Mark Cartwright / 03.30.2016 Introduction Agathocles of Syracuse (c. 361 – 289 BCE) ruled as tyrant of the Sicilian city for over 25 years. Ambitious, unprincipled, and seeing himself as a new Alexander, he famously attacked Carthage in a three-year campaign and made conquests in[…]

An Introductory Guide to Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War

The fall of the Athenian army in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War in 413 BC as depicted in an 1893 illustration by J.G.Vogt. Wikimedia Commons Thucydides’s insights into the power of words to influence public sentiments remain acutely up-to-date. By Dr. Julia Kindt / 07.12.2017 Associate Professor and Chair Department of Classics and Ancient History University of Sydney Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War breaks off before[…]

Ancient Treasures on Top of Mediterranean Mountains

The summit of Mt Zagaras north of Athens. Jason König In ancient times, they were the shrines and ritual sites to the Greek gods. These days, they’re astonishingly unloved and neglected. By Dr. Jason König / 03.01.2016 Professor of Greek University of St. Andrews The mountains of the Mediterranean are permanent reminders of the past. The ancient Greeks climbed to their summits to offer sacrifices to the[…]

Hippocrates Didn’t Write the Oath, So Why is He the Father of Medicine?

Not the one we have fixed in our imaginations. Peter Paul Rubens, 1638 Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, enemy of superstition, pioneer ofrationality and fount of eternal wisdom. By Dr. Helen King / 10.02.2014 Professor of Classical Studies The Open University Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, enemy of superstition, pioneer of rationality and fount of eternal wisdom. Statues and drawings show him with a furrowed[…]

The Delphic Oracle: It’s History and Surprising Modern Incarnations

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the wisdom of the oracle was dispensed. Janet Lackey/flickr, CC BY-NC Cicero asked: ‘how to become famous?’ Nero sought to know the timing of his death. TheOracle at Delphi offered pronouncements on all manner of topics – yet as with Google today, the question posed was as important as the answer. By Dr. Julia Kindt / 07.21.2016 Associate Professor and Chair Department of Classics and Ancient History University[…]

Largest Ancient Tomb in Amphipolis Shows How Unique Macedonia Was

The (smaller) tombs at Vergina. Damian Entwistle, CC BY-NC By Dr. Laura Swift / 08.18.2014 Lecturer in Classical Studies The Open University The tomb is located near the ancient city of Amphipolis, and archaeologists have been excavating it for the last six years. While there are still plenty of questions unanswered (who it was made for for example),[…]

Fall of Troy: The Legend and the Facts

Graham Bartholomew/BBC/Wild Mercury Productions How much do we know about this city of legend? By Mariacarmela Montesanto / 03.01.2018 PhD Candidate – Archaeology, Classics, Egyptology University of Liverpool The legendary ancient city of Troy is very much in the limelight this year: a big budget co-production between the BBC and Netflix: Troy, Fall of a City, recently launched,[…]

A Brief Introduction to Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World

Portrait of a Man, about 100 B.C., found in Delos, Greece. Bronze, white paste, and dark stone, 12 13/16 in. high. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs. The National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. X 14612. Photo: Marie Mauzy / Art Resource, NY 10 key facts about these rare, unusual, and beautiful artworks.[…]

Herodotus, Tacitus, and Eyewitness Reporting in Ancient Greece and Rome

News in ancient Greece Greek and Roman historians were also known to fudge or fabricate their time in the field. By Dr. Timothy Joseph / 02.23.2015 Associate Professor of Classics College of the Holy Cross Eyewitness reporting in ancient times The historians of ancient Greece and Rome placed a high priority on eyewitness reporting, on being there and seeing[…]

The Time is Right for the Elgin Marbles to Go Home

mark higgins/Shutterstock It’s lunacy to believe you own the moon, so why is cultural heritage any different? TheParthenon sculptures at least belong together. By Dr. Constantine Sandis / 07.07.2016 Professor of Philosophy University of Hertfordshire It is lunacy to believe you own the moon, and no amount of tomato juice you spill into the sea will make its water yours. Yet we ask the question “who owns antiquity?”[…]

“Not Like a Coward”: Remembering a Warrior’s Death

Gravestone of Pollis, Greek, made in Megara, about 480 B.C. Marble, 60 1/4 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 90.AA.129 By David Saunders / 11.12.2012 Curator, Department of Antiquities J. Paul Getty Museum The intimate association between being remembered and risking one’s life on the battlefield lies at the heart of Homer’s Iliad. The preeminent warrior[…]

Uncovering the History of a Long-Buried Byzantine Treasure

Pair of Wristbands with Birds and Palmettes, Greek, made in Constantinople, 800s–900s. Gold with granulated decoration and enamel, each 3 3/8 in. wide. Image courtesy of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki, inv. no BKO 262/6 Buried twice over the centuries, a precious gold cuff from Thessaloniki, Greece, is a document of Byzantine history. By[…]

Overlooked Plain Black Vases in Beazley’s Attributions

Athenian black-gloss drinking cup (bolsal), about 400 B.C. Terracotta, 11 in. diam. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016.79.1, Gift of Constance Jordan Two seemingly humble black-gloss vases trace a connection to Sir John Beazley, the great British scholar of ancient Greek pottery. By David Saunders / 01.18.2017 Curator, Department of Antiquities J. Paul Getty Museum Two[…]

What Does the Acropolis Mean? A Conversation with Historian Thomas Gallant

View of the Parthenon from the Propylaea, 1805, Simone Pomardi. Sepia, Sepia, 21 5/8 x 29 1/8 in. The Packard Humanities Institute Six questions for the historian about the monument in history and the imagination.    By David Saunders and Annelisa Stephan / 01.08.2016 Saunders: Curator, Department of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum Stephan: Editor and Content[…]

Ancient Greek Mystery Cults and the Mother Goddess

Orphic Prayer Sheet, 350–300 B.C., Greek. Gold, 1 7/16 x 7/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 75.AM.19. Gift of Lenore Barozzi Mystery cults were an exception to the public and communal nature of ancient Greek religion. By Erin Branham / 03.20.2013 Education Specialist for Family Programs Getty Villa Ancient Greek religion was, by definition, public and[…]