Kathleen Coleman on Fatal Ambitions

In case you’re at Cambridge a few hours from now:

Professor Kathleen Coleman, Professor of Latin at Harvard University and renowned author on Latin literature and history will give Newnham’s biennial Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture on Friday, 23 April 2010.

She’ll argue that pushy parents and a competitive society driving youngsters to extremes to succeed is far from a modern phenomenon.

Entitled “Fatal ambitions: the hazards of educating the gifted and talented in Ancient Rome”, Professor Coleman will discuss how literary, musical, and athletic contests with special categories for children were imported from Greece to Rome. She’ll reveal how less wealthy classes embraced these competitions, with an eager eye on the advantages to be gained from success, but that even then, some educators worried that the children were being pushed too hard and in some cases, to the grave.

Professor Coleman received her graduate education at Oxford University and joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1998 after a teaching career in Africa and Ireland. She has published extensively in the areas of Latin literature and history. She has also been active in the media, contributing to programmes on the BBC, National Public Radio, the Discovery Channel, Grenada Television, and the History Channel. Professor Coleman was appointed special consultant to Hollywood’s Dreamworks studio when it produced the cinema blockbuster ‘Gladiator’, but she asked for her name to be removed from the film’s credits because she felt her advice wasn’t reflected in it when it was released.

In her lecture she’ll suggest that while precocious children and ambitious parents are a universal phenomenon in advanced societies, culturally specific circumstances were also factors in ancient Rome. With children regarded as mini-adults, and literacy seen as the key to social advancement; Professor Coleman argues that the ability to perform at virtuoso level was one of the hallmarks of Roman culture and that the accompanying pressure to do so blighted the lives of the gifted and talented children of Ancient Rome.

The Newnham Jane Harrison Memorial has been hosted by Newnham since 1928. It was created to honour the memory of Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) who studied and lectured in Classics at Newnham. She was renowned for her public lectures on Greek art and for her unconventional and outspoken views. As a pioneering female scholar, Harrison was at the centre of a revolution in the study of Greek culture and religion, undermining the conventional view of Greek culture as essentially intellectual and “rational”; while at the same time deploying French anthropological theory in the attempt to understand Greek religion. She wrote on a wide variety of subjects, from Russian language and literature to women’s suffrage and herself.

The Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture: “Fatal Ambitions: The Hazards of Educating the Gifted and Talented in Ancient Rome” will be given in LG17, the Law Faculty, Sidgwick site on Friday 23 April at 5.30pm. All are welcome and no booking is required.

via Pushy parents in a competitive society: how ancient Roman teens had it tough too | Physorg.

PreRoman Tomb from Foligno

Most of the interesting stuff is in the first couple sentences of this one … a sixth-century female burial along with an iron fibula and amber necklace …

Una tomba a tumulo di eta’ preromana e’ stata rinvenuta a Foligno nel corso dei lavori di realizzazione della Variante Nord della citta’; all’interno della tomba e’ stata individuata una sepoltura femminile risalente al VI secolo avanti Cristo. Ritrovato anche il corredo, composto da fibule in ferro, una collana d’ambra, vasellame in impasto…


David Davies on Archaeological Traces of LitTrad

Interesting incipit from the UDallas University paper:

On Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, the Rome office gave the third installment of the Rome Walking Tour in Irving, a series of lectures designed to both prepare future Romers for their semester abroad and enhance the Rome experience for past Romers, as well as for people who have never yet gone to Rome. Dr. David Davies of the English and classics departments spoke on “Archaeological Traces of Literary Traditions I: Facts of Fiction.”

Davies began his lecture by holding up a dollar bill and explaining that the eagle on the back is the bird of Zeus, accented with the olive branch and the brace of arrows. That this image appears on the bill is representative of the government’s use of art to speak to the nation. As such, the eagle represents an independent power capable of both peace and war. Also on the back of the dollar bill is the Latin phrase, “Annuit coeptus” – “he has nodded at our beginnings,” a line from the Aeneid describing the foundation of the Roman people.

With this beginning, Davies explained that he wanted to make his audience aware of the many images from the Lit Trad I poems scattered around, specifically in Rome. “The audience of the poems was so captivated that they wanted artistic representations of them to remind them.” Davies said that he wanted to make some suggestions on how to understand these images. Therefore, the first part of his lecture he called “Art, or how to look at it.” First, he cited the example of Pasquino, one of the seven “talking” statues of Rome, a badly worn marble statue which, in the middle ages, Romans would scribble messages near to voice their dissatisfaction with the reigning powers. Davies explained that the guide books will alert the tourist of this story, but will fail to identify the statue as a representation of Menelaus defending the fallen Patroclus. “You have to know the stories from which the artists took their inspiration,” Davies said.

The rest: Davies gives lecture on archaeological traces of Lit Trad I – News.

Citanda: Mary Beard on Ostracism

The incipit of Mary Beard’s latest:

One of the smart ideas of the ancient Athenian democracy was the system of ostracism. If the people wanted to decide between the policies of two different politicians, and they were deadlocked — they had a vote and simply exiled one of them…

More: A Dons Life by Mary Beard – Times Online – A three-cornered election: the ancient Athenian solution.