Cyrus, Alexander, and the King of the World

Mental Images

In this post, I will address directly the question I first posed: What do ancient Greek inscriptions and a chiropractor’s cerebral hemorrhage have in common? To do so, I’ll gloss the story of former chiropractor Jon Sarkin and his current artistic oeuvre. This topic is of great interest to me in part for how it probes the relationship (if one exists at all) between cultural and biological factors in creative… Read more

Performing Plato

Hello! Let me get back for a moment to the provisional index of my book on the Phaedrus, which I outlined in my previous post: Introduction Prelude: Plato’s self-disclosing strategies: survey and new insights Chapter 1, ‘STESICHORE’: Stesichorus and the palinode Chapter 2, ‘SAPPHO’: Gorgias, lyric poetry and philosophical rhetoric Chapter 3, ‘OURANIA & CALLIOPE’: The cicadas and the initiation to dialectics Chapter 4, ‘HELEN’: Plato’s tree, or a figural… Read more

Near Death Experiences: Objects, Offerings, and Commemoration

In the late 1960s archaeologists from the British School at Athens, while excavating a cemetery on the island of Euboea, discovered an object that remains unique in the history of Greek art: the Lefkandi centaur. The figurine stands c. 14 inches high and is dated to the late 10th century BC. Made of terracotta and painted with simple geometric patterns, the impressive and unusual object was likely made by a… Read more

Can the Skeptic Search for Truth? Overview

In this first post, I will offer a brief description of both my general research in the area of ancient philosophy and the research project carried out at the Center. In the next post, I will describe in detail the problems I intend to address in relation to the Pyrrhonian skeptic’s search for truth. Finally, in the third post, I will expound some tentative solutions to these problems. My research… Read more

A GIS-based Study of Attica

A GIS (Geographical Information System) is currently being built up for the landscape study of Attica’s borderland. GIS offers a convenient and powerful tool for adding geographical, geological and historical maps, processing archaeological data and analyzing the geomorphology and the land-use of a historical landscape. GIS is a unique tool for integrating a variety of complex data, including Attica’s immense archaeological heritage. By bringing together different sources of information, the… Read more

Aegean Art for a Modern Age

My current research project explores the history of early Greek archaeology and the reception of imagery from the Aegean Bronze Age. While the literary traditions of classical Greece and Rome strongly shaped initial assessments of Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete, it was the first excavations at Troy, Mycenae, and Knossos that provided the material evidence that sparked a lively (and on-going) debate about how mythic and how Greek the Mycenaeans… Read more

Achamenid Ethnicity from the Material Perspective

At the moment, much of my reading and writing is focused on a project on the problem of how to deal with the question of ethnicity and identity in the material record. While this might, on the surface of things, seem quite separate from my larger project this year of examining Upper Egypt as a border zone where material culture played an important role in the negotiation of identities—Egyptian, Nubian,… Read more

Epigraphic evidence on public building: shifting procedures or shifting perspectives?

My second post will focus on some methodological considerations prompted by the study of 5th and 4th c. Attic inscriptions, in particular building specifications and building commission accounts. As I proceed with my research, I am becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which the correct interpretation of the nature and function of these inscriptions is essential for a proper understanding of the information they provide. At risk of stating… Read more

Making Sense

As I committed to do in my last post on the aesthetics of Greek vase inscriptions, I want to discuss a bit further the phenomenon of nonsense inscriptions, which have gone largely understudied. The few exceptions have tended to focus on their contributions to assessing the literacy or illiteracy (however defined) of their authors or audiences.[1] I am interested in shifting the focus instead to how such inscriptions may actually… Read more

Singing in the sun

Hi everybody, I have given my research talk and I have started discussing my work and other topics with a number of people: this is proving truly exciting and I thank them all. To my delight, some of them seem to be surprisingly keen on a few of my favourite things, such as grasshoppers, crazed-with-sun cicadas and other minutiae, and my idea that Plato’s philosophical discourse can be conceptualized as… Read more

Turning around Achilles' Shield

During these first three months of my fellowship, I have been working on an interpretation of the description of Achilles’ Shield in Iliad XVIII. My intention is to link this famous passage with other demiurgical motives found in mythological and philosophical texts, namely Hesiod’s Theogony, Parmenides’ poem, Empedocles’ cosmogony, and Plato’s Timaeus. I believe that the craftsmanship theme, which is conspicuous in all these texts, conveys a double reflection: one… Read more

Dionysos, Lykourgos, and a Murder in the Sanctuary

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve spent the last several weeks focusing on some vase paintings that show the madness of Lykourgos, a mythical king of Thrace who seems to have been best known in the Classical period for the gruesome murder of his young son Dryas. To judge from the surviving vases, the Lykourgos myth was of interest to both Athenian and South Italian artists, but since… Read more

Were there territorial waters in Ancient Greece?

The topic of the present post, maritime borders in Ancient Greece, was inspired by N. Papazarkadas’ comments on my previous post. Most of Attica’s borders, as well as those of many other Greek poleis, were delimited by the sea. What does this mean, concretely? Did the coasts mark the borders, or were the borders offshore? To put it more simply: were there territorial waters in Ancient Greece? The formula κατὰ… Read more

Word and Image, Word as Image

I begin by posing a sort of sympotic griphos: What do ancient Greek inscriptions and a chiropractor’s cerebral hemorrhage have in common? If you already have a solution, please leave it in the comments or email me; otherwise, read on. If you do so, you’ll see that in this first blog post I follow the trend established by my fellow Fellows, first giving a brief overview of my current research… Read more

Public Building: Personal Inclinations and Present Concerns

Hello everyone! As this is my first post, I’ll start by introducing myself and my project. My name is Cristina Carusi and I am spending the whole academic year at the Center, while working on a project tentatively called “Public Building in Law and Economy of Classical Athens”. My interest in the Athenian public building sector first originated some years ago, thanks to the study of Ronald Stroud’s commentary to… Read more

Of incredible and bizarre tales

I should start by noting that my post title refers to Ctesias’ work (at least in Plutarch’s estimation, Artaxerxes 1.4), not what I’m about to write. I’m only a “two-weeker” (and not until March) with regard to physical presence at the CHS. I note with great interest the variety of projects underway at the Center. I myself am working on two main projects this year: a textbook history of the… Read more

Research Talks, November 17

Our series of informal talks by current fellows continues on Thursday, November 20 at 4:00PM (EST) with presentations by: Andrea Capra University of Milan  “‘Harvesting Homer’: The Voice of Epic in Plato’s Dialogues” Synnøve des Bouvrie University of Tromsø “The Institution of the Warrior in Greek Tragedies” Watch the talks live at rtsp://stream.chs.harvard.edu/HouseA, viewable with Quicktime or Real Player. Recordings of these talks will be available on our Research Talks page… Read more

'Harvesting Homer'

This is my first post, so let me introduce my research project. I am working on a book-length study provisionally called “‘Harvesting Homer’: the voice of epic in Plato’s dialogues”. Here is my general premise: Plato’s dialogues are often seen as an all-encompassing blend of all previous literary genres, “the boat on which” – to quote from Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy – “the older forms of poetry, together with all… Read more

The very first linguistic turn

Early Greek cosmologies and learned myths that account for the origin of the universe and its present state tend to bring up the question of representation in language. If we were to formulate this question nowadays it would probably be in these terms: how can the whole natural process of becoming, which in principle is not knowable through direct experience, be objectified in a narrative? In early Greek thought, this… Read more

Women, Property, and Linear B

In Greek antiquity, few issues concerning women created as much regional controversy as women’s abilities to command and control property. Control of property for women in Archaic and Classical Greece varied broadly from site to site with no real consistency across states. While Classical Athenian wives would own only their clothing and jewelry, the Gortyn law code offered protections to the interests and property of heiresses, and then of course… Read more

Research Talks are Now Online!

Throughout the year, the CHS fellows will give talks about their projects. The talks in this series will be available to watch live at rtsp://stream.chs.harvard.edu/HouseA, viewable with Quicktime or Real Player. Recordings will be available online after each talk. The first few talks of the year are available online and there are more coming soon! Visit our Research Talks page to watch. Read more

Why Art and Religion?

I have been interested in ancient Greek religion for as long as I can remember. As an undergraduate Classics major at Davidson College it was my privilege to study with the late Stephen Lonsdale, himself a CHS fellow back in 1990. Dr Lonsdale and I shared many common interests – dance, performance, religion, ritual, funeral games, Homer, Horace, and Vergil. He was also my introduction to Greek art and archaeology,… Read more

Greeks, Non-Greeks, and the Imagery of Ritual

I am spending this term at the CHS researching a book provisionally titled The Representation of the Exotic in Athenian Ritual Imagery. Since my reasons for pairing these two topics – ritual and the exotic – are probably not immediately clear, I will use this first post to explain what led me to formulate my project in this way and what I’m trying to accomplish with it. A major focus… Read more

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