Why Does The Past Matter? Greco-Roman Antiquity In 21st Century






Why Does The Past Matter? Greco-Roman Antiquity In 21st Century

Public Forum held at Trinity College Dublin, on October 7, 2010

Public forum organised by Trinity College Dublin School of Histories and Humanities Classics Department to explore the ways in which we use the classical past and to what extent and why it remains relevant today and important for our future.



The forum was organised on the occasion of the launch of the Andrew A. David Lectureship in Greek Archaeology and History, a position funded by the generosity of the Andrew A. David Foundation and the A.G. Leventis Foundation.

The event, which took place at the Trinity Long Room Hub on October 7th last, was chaired by Dr. Tom Mitchell and featured talks by A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge, Paul Cartledge, poet Peter Fallon, artist Dorothy Cross and Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of the Archaeological Unit at the University of Cyprus, Demetrios Michaelides.

The forum aimed to contribute to the current public debate taking place in Ireland about the importance of the arts and humanities. Questions raised included why archaeological remains such as the Parthenon marbles, are such a source of dispute. Why people are arguing about the ‘ownership’ of Alexander the Great. How Ulysses, one of the seminal novels of the 20th century, is an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, a work created nearly thirty centuries ago. Why a modern Irish poet would translate Vergil’s Georgics and why a contemporary British politician would write a book about the Roman Empire.

The speakers concluded that Greek and Roman antiquity still plays a fundamental role in the Mediterranean world and its modern international extensions. Throughout their explorations of the Classical past the speakers highlighted to what extent and why it continues to remain relevant today and important for our future.

About the speakers
Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture in the University of Cambridge, is one of the most internationally ‘public’ of modern Classicists. The world’s leading expert on ancient Sparta, on which he has written works of ground-breaking scholarship, Paul has also been involved in television and film productions about the ancient world and has devoted much time to his role as ambassador of the Hellenic past.

Peter Fallon is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and in a brilliant constellation of modern Irish poets one of its brightest stars. In 2004 he published a translation of Vergil’s Georgics, which Seamus Heaney described as ‘bountiful, faithful and frolicsome, a big achievement, in fact, a new poem living its own vivid life in English . . . It is this combination of truth to the words Virgil wrote, natural vernacular speech and a general at-homeness on the land that makes Fallon’s an inspired translation.’

Dorothy Cross is one of the most acclaimed modern Irish artists. Her exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2005 included sculpture, installation, performance, photography, film and she continues to astound with arresting images created from her ‘poetic amalgamation of found and constructed objects’. Many Irish people will remember particularly her work Ghostship, a lightship covered in luminous paint and docked in Dun Laoghaire harbour in February 1999.

Demetrios Michaelides is Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of the Archaeological Unit at the University of Cyprus. He has published widely in Cypriot and Mediterranean archaeology, and is also President of the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics. He has played a leading role in the care and presentation of the antiquities of Cyprus.




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