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On the ‘Invisibility’ of Women’s Labor: Redefining Work in Ancient Greece

By Katherine Harrington (Emory University)

One of the many devasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic was the startlingly higher rates at which women left the workforce than men. The biggest increase in women leaving the workforce occurred in September 2020, when 863,000 women left the workforce, compared to 168,000 men (Casella). This disparity brought to public attention some of the gendered disparities in labor that still persist in American society; in September 2020, the primary driver was childcare and online schooling.

Two Volcanoes and the Climate of Vergil’s Green Poetry

By William Freeman (University of Cambridgeq)

My paper places Vergil’s Eclogues and Georgics in the context of a period of climatic disruption in the Mediterranean, triggered by two volcanic eruptions in the late 40s BCE. The fallout from these eruptions led, in the short term, to spectacular meteorological phenomena and, in the longer term, contributed to a period of agricultural difficulty.

Fierce Groves for Doubtful Times

By Rachael Cullick (Oklahoma State University)

This paper examines the grove of Faunus (Aen. 7.81-91) as part of an Italy seen as liminal space in which the human is entwined with the natural and dangerous divine. The grove is fearsome in its connection to the Underworld but also the place where all Italy “seek answers when in doubtful situations” (7.85-6) and the priest converses with gods and the Underworld itself (7.90-91). The characterization of this landscape opens up new viewpoints for ecocriticism in general and studies of the poem.

From Eco-fascist to Eco-utopian: Twentieth-century Readings of Virgil's Corycian Gardener

By Phoebe Lakin (Harvard University)

Few parts of the notoriously “intractable” Georgics (Batstone 1997: 125) are as perennially contested as the vignette of the Old Man of Tarentum (4.116-48), the anonymous gardener who transforms a vacant lot into a profusion of flowers and fruit trees. This paper examines the reception of this elusive passage through an ecocritical lens.

Human and Animal Captivities in Androcles and the Lion

By Edward Kelting (University of California San Diego)

Greco-Roman animal fable was a genre bound up in systems of inequality. Ancient vitae regularly claim that key authors of fable, whether its famed inventor Aesop or later practitioners like Phaedrus, were born in slavery (VA 1, Phaedrus 3.prol). The central role of slavery as a frame for fable’s development is made clear in the Life of Aesop, which coordinates Aesop’s manumission with his divinely given mastery of the fable form (VA 7).

Pets as Humans and Humans as Pets in Imperial Rome

By Sian Lewis (University of St Andrews)

animi laxandi causa modo piscabatur hamo, modo talis aut ocellatis nucibusque ludebat cum pueris minutis, quos facie et garrulitate amabilis undique conquirebat, praecipue Mauros et Syros. (Suet. Aug. 83)

Making Manimals: School Fables and Physiognomy in the Second Sophistic

By Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne (University of Virginia)

Physiognomy is the practice of evaluating human character through bodily features, often in comparison with the physical attributes of animals. The zoological premises of physiognomy appear as early as the Old Babylonian Empire and underwent systematic study in the ps.-Aristotelian Physiognomonica (Raina 1994, Böck 2010). But it was during the Second Sophistic that physiognomy attained peak popularity, as orators mesmerized audiences with embodied performances (Evans 1969, Gleason 1995 and 2002).