Agency Through the Ancients: A Graduate Student Conference

Going to graduate student conferences was one of the best part of my graduate school experience. If you are eligible, apply to this one. Some cool things are happening at Boston University Classics.

Agency through the Ancients: Reception as Empowerment

This fall, the graduate students of Boston University are hosting a graduate conference on the theme of reception of the classical world as a tool of agency for the disenfranchised. The conference will be held on November 9, 2019 at Boston University. It seems as if the only ‘reception’ of Classics that makes headlines these days is the misappropriation by hate groups or those wishing to use the ancient world as a means to exclude others. We at BU wanted to highlight instead the salutary side of classics and therefore are seeking papers that highlight engagement with the ancient world by groups which have been historically underrepresented or outright excluded.

The keynote speaker for this conference will be Dr. Emily Allen-Hornblower of Rutgers University, as well as Mr. Marquis ‘I AM’ McCray. Dr. Allen-Hornblower met Mr. McCray in her role as a professor in the NJ-STEP prison teaching program. Together, they will speak on their experiences teaching and learning classical literature in a prison setting, and what a rewarding experience that can be as both teacher and student.

We are hoping to gather papers on a wide range of topics and groups, including but not limited to veterans, prisoners, women/feminist groups, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ communities, and those living with physical or mental disabilities. If you are interested and have a paper, please send an abstract of 500 words or fewer and a short biography to ancientagency@gmail.com. A copy of the Call for Papers can be found by following this link. Deadline for submissions Friday, August 23, by 11:59pm.

Harley MS 5347 f. 26v c12046-06
 Harley MS 5347, f. 26v: St Margaret Visited in Prison by her Godmother

“The Most Famous Contest of All”

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 1

“Then, the most famous contest of all sports”

Clarissimum deinde omnium ludicrum certamen

Philo, The Worse Attack the Better 29

“There are some of those athletes who display such perfection of body that their opponents decline to face them and they are announced as victors without a fight….”

εἰσὶ δέ τινες τῶν ἀγωνιστῶν οἳ διὰ σώματος εὐεξίαν, ἀπειπόντων τῶν ἀντιπάλων, ἐστεφανώθησαν ἀμαχὶ…

Livy, 40.13

“Look at the kind of circumstance selected for murder: games, parties, and drinking.”

tempora quidem qualia sint ad parricidium electa vides: lusus convivii comissationis.

Plutarch, Life of Antony 28

“There, he used his leisure in the distractions of youth and childish games, spending and even wasting that most expensive currency, as Antiphon calls it, time.”

ἐκεῖ δὲ μειρακίου σχολὴν ἄγοντος διατριβαῖς καὶ παιδιαῖς χρώμενον ἀναλίσκειν καὶ καθηδυπαθεῖν τὸ πολυτελέστατον, ὡς2Ἀντιφῶν εἶπεν, ἀνάλωμα, τὸν χρόνον.

Horace, Epistles 1.19.48-9

“Sport tends to give rise to heated strife and anger, anger in turns brings savage feuds and war to the death”.

ludus enim genuit trepidum certamen et iram, ira truces inimicitias et funebre bellum.

Xenophanes, Fragment 2. 16-19

“Swiftness of feet—the thing honored most in all of man’s acts of strength in the contest—could never make a city governed well.”

οὐδὲ μὲν εἰ ταχυτῆτι ποδῶν, τόπερ ἐστὶ πρότιμον,
ῥώμης ὅσσ’ ἀνδρῶν ἔργ’ ἐν ἀγῶνι πέλει,
τούνεκεν ἂν δὴ μᾶλλον ἐν εὐνομίηι πόλις εἴη·

Homer, Odyssey 8.147-8

“For as long as he lives, a man has no greater glory
than that which he wins with his own hands and feet”

οὐ μὲν γὰρ μεῖζον κλέος ἀνέρος, ὄφρα κεν ᾖσιν,
ἢ ὅ τι ποσσίν τε ῥέξῃ καὶ χερσὶν ἑῇσιν.

Superbowl53 (2)

Cicero on the “Unforgettable Ides of March”

Cicero, Letters to Atticus (14.4) 10 April 44

“But should all these things befall us, the Ides of March may console. Our heroes too accomplished most gloriously and magnificently everything it was in their power to do. For the rest, we need money and troops, neither of which we have.”

Sed omnia licet concurrant, Idus Martiae consolantur. nostri autem ἥρωες quod per ipsos confici potuit gloriosissime et magnificentissime confecerunt; reliquae res opes et copias desiderant, quas nullas habemus

 

Cicero, Letters to Brutus  I.15 (23) 14 July 43

“Therefore, come here, by the gods, as fast as possible; Convince yourself that it would do your country no greater good if you come quickly than you did on the Ides of March when you freed your fellow citizens from slavery.”

subveni igitur, per deos, idque quam primum, tibique persuade non te Idibus Martiis, quibus servitutem a tuis civibus depulisti, plus profuisse patriae quam, si mature veneris, profuturum.

 

Cicero, Letters to Brutus, 1.15 (23) July 43

“After the death of Caesar and your unforgettable Ides of March, Brutus, you will not have lost sight of the the fact that I said that one thing was overlooked by you—how much a storm loomed over the Republic. The greatest disease was warded off thanks to you—a great blight was cleansed from the Roman people—and you won immortal fame for your part. But the mechanism of monarchy fell then to Lepidus and Antonius—one of whom is more erratic, while the other is rather unclean—both fearing peace and ill-fit to idle time.”

Post interitum Caesaris et vestras memorabilis Idus Martias, Brute, quid ego praetermissum a vobis quantamque impendere rei publicae tempestatem dixerim non es oblitus. magna pestis erat depulsa per vos, magna populi Romani macula deleta, vobis vero parta divina gloria, sed instrumentum regni delatum ad Lepidum et Antonium, quorum alter inconstantior, alter impurior, uterque pacem metuens, inimicus otio.

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The death of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate by Vincenzo Camuccini

 

Preferring Death to Fear on the Ides of March

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 2.57

“The advice of Pansa and Hirtius should be praised based on what happened. They always admonished Caesar that he should hold by means of weapons what he earned with weapons. But as he was always saying that he would prefer to die instead of feeling fear–because he was expecting the clemency which he had doled out–he was caught by surprise by people who did not feel such gratitude, despite the fact that the gods provided him with many signs and indications of future danger.

For the soothsayers gave him advanced warning that he should be especially careful of the Ids of March; his wife Calpurnia was terrified by a dream and was begging him to stay home; and there were also notes given to him informing of the conspiracy, which he did not take the time to read. But the power of fate is ultimately inescapable; it corrupts the plans of any one who decides to change their fortune.”

1LVII. Laudandum experientia consilium est Pansae atque Hirtii, qui semper praedixerant Caesari ut principatum armis quaesitum armis teneret. Ille dictitans mori se quam timere malle dum clementiam, quam praestiterat, expectat, incautus ab ingratis occupatus est, cum quidem plurima ei praesagia atque indicia dii immortales futuri obtulissent periculi. Nam et haruspices praemonuerant, ut diligentissime iduum Martiarum caveret diem, et uxor Calpurnia territa nocturno visu, ut ea die domi subsisteret, orabat, et libelli coniurationem nuntiantes dati neque protinus ab eo lecti erant. Sed profecto ineluctabilis fatorum vis, cuiuscumque fortunam mutare constituit, consilia corrumpit.

 

Suetonius, Divus Julius, 81-82

“For these reasons and because of his own health, Caesar dithered for a while on whether he should stay home and postpone what he had proposed to do in the senate; but then, because he was encouraged by Decimus Brutus that he should not fail to appear at a meeting which was full and already long-awaiting his arrival, he left home at nearly the fifth hour.

When a little message describing the conspiracy was handed to him along the way by some person, he added it to the other texts which he was holding with his left hand as if he were about to read them soon. Then, once many sacrifices had been made and he was not able to get a good reading, he went into the Senate house dismissing the signs and laughing at Spurinna, claiming he was a liar because the Ides of March had come upon him with no injury at all—even though he said that they certainly had come, but they had not yet passed.

As he was sitting down, the conspirators stood in a circle about her as a mark of her office. Then Tillius Cimber who had taken on the first part for himself, came closer as if he was going to ask something. When Caesar was trying to put him off with a gesture for another time, Cimber grabbed his toga by both shoulders. As one of the Cascas stabbed him from one side below the throat, he was shouting, “this is force!” Caesar grabbed Cascas’ arm and punctured it with his stylus, but when he tried to leap up, he was slowed by another wound. When he noticed that he was sought on all sides by drawn daggers, he drew his toga down from his head and pulled it down with its fold to his legs with his left hand so he might fall more decently once the lower half of his body was covered. In this way, he was stabbed 23 times even though he uttered no word but only a groan after the first strike. Some have recorded that when he saw Marcus Brutus rushing at him he said in Greek kai su teknon?”

Ob haec simul et ob infirmam valitudinem diu cunctatus an se contineret et quae apud senatum proposuerat agere differret, tandem Decimo Bruto adhortante, ne frequentis ac iam dudum opperientis destitueret, quinta fere hora progressus est libellumque insidiarum indicem ab obvio quodam porrectum libellis ceteris, quos sinistra manu tenebat, quasi mox lecturus commiscuit. Dein pluribus hostiis caesis, cum litare non posset, introiit curiam spreta religione Spurinnamque irridens et ut falsum arguens, quod sine ulla sua noxa Idus Martiae adessent; quanquam is venisse quidem eas diceret, sed non praeterisse.

LXXXII. Assidentem conspirati specie officii circumsteterunt, ilicoque Cimber Tillius, qui primas partes susceperat, quasi aliquid rogaturus propius accessit renuentique et gestu in aliud tempus differenti ab utroque umero togam adprehendit; deinde clamantem: “Ista quidem vis est!” alter Cascis aversumvulnerat paulum infra iugulum. Caesar Cascae brachium arreptum graphio traiecit conatusque prosilire alio vulnere tardatus est; utque animad­vertit undique se strictis pugionibus peti, toga caput obvolvit, simul sinistra manu sinum ad ima crura deduxit, quo honestius caderet etiam inferiore corporis parte velata. Atque ita tribus et viginti plagis confossus est uno modo ad primum ictum gemitu sine voce edito, etsi tradiderunt quidam Marco Bruto irruenti dixisse: καὶ σὺ τέκνον;

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