2021 Goodwin Awards of Merit

The members of the Committee on the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit are delighted to announce that the 2021 winners of the Goodwin Awards are Aileen R. Das (University of Michigan), Ellen Oliensis (University of California Berkeley), and Andreas Willi (University of Oxford).

Please click on the names below to read the full award citations written by committee members David Konstan and James I. Porter (co-chairs), Harriet Flower, Richard Hunter, and Amy Richlin.

Aileen R. Das

Ellen Oliensis

Andreas Willi

Citation for Aileen R. Das, Galen and the Arabic Reception of Plato’s Timaeus, Cambridge University Press, 2020

It may be hard for us to imagine that medicine might have an inferiority complex with respect to philosophy. In classical antiquity, however, doctors understandably prided themselves on the status of their discipline as a technical skill (technē); this was a tribute to their claims to specialized knowledge and its practical applications—its capacity to improve lives. But in doing so, the physicians left their craft open to comparison with other, often humbler technai, such as carpentry or the smith’s trade, which lacked the higher rigor of true science (epistēmē). As the most prolific medical authority since Hippocrates, Galen was not content to see his profession demeaned in this way, and he endeavored to elevate it as a theoretical system that could enhance the understanding of the cosmos on a par with classical metaphysics. To sustain his pretensions, Galen turned to Plato’s Timaeus, in some ways an odd choice, since Plato was a clear defender of philosophy’s superiority to any empirical study of the organic body, but also a natural choice, since the Timaeus offers an account of the cosmic body. As a result of Galen’s attention, the Timaeus in later antiquity into the medieval period became what Das terms “a universal text.” Galen’s understanding of Plato became a flash point in the reception of both the Timaeus and his own writings.

Galen’s authority was felt, above all, in the Arabic-speaking world. In Iraq, the great ninth-century translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq appealed to Galen to lend authority to his own specialty, ophthalmology, which he situated at the juncture of the human body and cosmology. A century on in Iran, the Muslim doctor Abū Bakr al-Rāzī took Galen to task for playing down God’s role in the cosmos, and so sought to Platonize Galen and to Galenize Plato by erecting the ideal of the philosophical doctor. Avicenna, in the early tenth century, introduced Aristotelian perspectives, especially in psychology, into the Platonic-Galenic view of perception and sensation, producing a hybrid of all three influences. Finally, the great medieval Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides attempted to delegitimize Galen’s appeal to Plato’s Timaeus, and so too the philosophical credentials of both writers, since Plato had denied creation out of nothing and hence God’s omnipotence.

With a sure command of Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew sources (among others) and a sophisticated sense of reception as opposed to mere transmission, informed by contemporary studies (STS and sociology of knowledge), Das expands the horizons not only of classical philology but also of the very concept of a discipline. Boundaries between disciplines (science, philosophy, theology), between ancient and modern thought, and between East and West are shown in this work to be provisional lines that are constantly and productively being redrawn and intertwined. For its scope and originality, its erudition, and its challenging perspectives, we are pleased to honor Aileen Das’s Galen and the Arabic Reception of Plato’s “Timaeus” with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

Citation for Ellen Oliensis, Loving Writing/Ovid’s Amores, Cambridge University Press, 2019

Who is Ovid?  Is he the often hapless, morally tawdry lover he professes to be in the Amores (and elsewhere, too), or the verbally dexterous, suave poet, master of a thousand rhetorical techniques, whose very control of language seems to render him passionless, a mere technician without the earnest sincerity of a Catullus or a Propertius?  Take the second couplet in the first of the Amores, in which Ovid explains why he abandoned epic for love poetry:

  par erat inferior uersus; risisse Cupido

            dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.

We know the story: Cupid pulls his usual trick of inflaming the poet’s desire so that he cannot help but write amatory verse.  But, as Oliensis observes, that is not quite what the impish god does here.  Rather, he altered the form of Ovid’s verses, transforming what was on course to be a hexameter composition into elegiac couplets by stealing one metrical foot and turning the second line into a pentameter.  This device, as Oliensis observes, “exposes a very deep truth about love poetry.  Poets who sit down to write love poetry are necessarily, while they are writing, poets first and lovers secondarily.” 

Then what about Ovid’s persona in the verses?  Oliensis gives him a name: Naso, as opposed to the poet Ovid.  But Naso, it turns out, is not as simple a character as we might imagine, the foil for the poet’s own attachment to his poetry.  Oliensis argues rather that Naso himself is erotically invested in the elegiac medium.  It is not just Ovid: Naso too wonders what to write, and it is he who is faced with the choice between elegy and, this time, tragedy in the opening poem of Book 3.  Such a choice, however, may seem a pale substitute for the living bodies that are the object of true erotic desire, and critics have pondered the logic of absence in this connection.  A fine Latinist writing at the top of her form, Oliensis rather argues for “the pleasurable effects that texts can have on their readers and producers, not just as poor makeshifts ... but in their own right, not despite but by virtue of their textuality.”  Sometimes lack itself is a pleasure, as Oliensis demonstrates with an elegant analysis of the way a pentameter line folds into and caresses its hexameter, inflecting the meaning as it folds and unfolds:  an erotics of meter. Oliensis’ nuanced exploration of the double nature of Ovid’s Amores brings a refined sensibility to the interpretation of Ovid’s loves, of what we may call the corpus of his poetry, and in appreciation of her insights we are pleased to honor her book with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

Citation for Andreas Willi, Origins of the Greek Verb, Cambridge University Press, 2018

This remarkable book is a bountiful storehouse of information on the proto-history and history of the Greek verb, a re-examination of some of the longest held views about the place of the Greek verb in the story of Proto-Indo-European and, above all, an explicit call to debate and further research. The book is a paradigm of detailed, technical philology, as well as an enlightening history of linguistic scholarship, but it is also a demonstration of how and why historical linguistics should matter to students of ancient literatures, even where many such students will be unable to follow the detailed linguistic arguments. Willi’s chapter on the augment, for example, sheds  light all over the interpretation of the text of Homer.

The richness of the Greek verbal system means, in Willi’s persuasive account, that it should be at the heart of the study of the Proto-Indo-European verb, for it is only in Greek where aspect, rather than tense, continued to play the central role it seems to have done in PIE. Willi’s method is to proceed phenomenon by phenomenon  to peel back the layers and reveal what happened very long ago, as imperfective formations came to be used as perfectives: reduplicated aorist, reduplicated present, the perfect, the thematic aorist, the augment and the sigmatic aorist all receive detailed chapters of historical investigation. The book’s attempt to offer an all-encompassing vision of the proto-history of the Greek verb is a challenge to comfortably received opinion and a genuine step forward in the field.

There is much in this hugely ambitious book which is (inevitably) speculative and where some will not wish to follow. In particular, Willi seeks to go back beyond the PIE verbal system to ‘Pre-Proto-Indo-European’ where, in his reconstruction, an ergative system gave way to the nominative-accusative system with which we are familiar. The speculation is built on remarkable command of the linguistic evidence, and it is certain to prompt further debate, both at the level of detail and also methodologically. What kinds of arguments are appropriate to such reconstructions and where do you draw the line and decide not to speculate further (a central question which Willi explicitly faces)?

Willi’s book is likely to be the basic starting-point for both discussion and high-level teaching of this subject for many years to come; it is as rich in reference material and the presentation of the evidence as it is in argument and provocation. It is also very elegantly written, despite the high level of technicality. For its scope, intellectual ambition and remarkable learning we are pleased to honor Andreas Willi’s Origins of the Greek Verb with the Goodwin Award of Merit.

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Stone relief in which the body of a child lies on a couch, surrounded by people in various gestures of mourning.

In the modern world, we are confronted with questions surrounding gender daily, from pronouns in our email signatures to gender-neutral bathrooms. Our awareness of the limitations of a gender binary and gendered roles continues to grow in an effort to reflect gender identity and expression more accurately. Despite these efforts and realizations about our own society, when discussing the Roman world, we often assume a gender binary that is inflexible and constant. By examining cases from Roman social life in which gender plays a fundamental role, we can see a wider spectra of gender expression that falls outside of the strict male/female binary. The Roman funeral, in particular, provides a special opportunity to consider how, even when roles are gendered, gender can be transgressed.

The transitional apparatus of the Roman funeral allowed and even encouraged performative undermining of norms. The liminality of the funeral space, in which the living ushered the deceased from their world to the world of the dead, provided a unique setting that demanded a break from norms. This included gender norms, and Roman funerals served as spaces in which normative expectations around gender were both reproduced and subverted. At funerals, men and women had specific jobs according to gender, but those roles often fell outside typical gender expression expectations.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/25/2021 - 10:30am by .
A white circle on a black background with green leaves and white flowers. Around the circle is a yellow vine border, and in the middle there is a palm tree. On the left side of the tree, an abstract figure in drapery stands, and on the right side, a simil

As I strolled one day in the old center of Tel Aviv, I entered the house of Haim Nachman Bialik, the Hebrew national poet. An imposing building, it constitutes a manifesto of Jewish art in the early 20th century: the architectural style reprises oriental shapes, alternating arches and square forms; the decoration aims to express a quintessentially Jewish art. As I daydreamed about the poet holding private meetings and public receptions with the foremost representatives of culture and politics of his day, my eye was caught by two decorative tiles. These tiles, located at opposite ends of an arch that leads into the salon, represent two opposite moments of Jewish history: on one hand, a tile reproduces the Judaea capta coin minted by Vespasian after the First Jewish War; on the other, another tile mirrors Vespasian’s coin, proclaiming, in Hebrew letters, “Judaea liberated.”

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 10/22/2021 - 12:13pm by .

Dear members,

We have a number of deadlines that fall prior to mid-November. Please see the following:

October 31: Nominations for the Forum Prize

November 1: Applications for annual meeting participation stipends and childcare / dependent care funding

November 1: Nominations and applications for the K-12 Teaching Excellence Award

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 10/21/2021 - 11:40am by Erik Shell.
A bronze bust of a man with short, wavy hair and a slightly pained expression on his face.

The Seleucid empire has long stood on the fringes of Classical scholarship. Following the conquest of the east by Alexander, the vast, multicultural construction lasted from 312–64 BCE, stretching from modern Turkey south to the Levantine coast and east into Afghanistan. Interdisciplinary by its very nature, Seleucid history straddles the boundaries of academic disciplines, languages, and methodologies, further fragmenting the study of an already fractured power. Recent holistic studies are rare, making the 2014 publication of Paul Kosmin’s comprehensive The Land of the Elephant Kings something of a groundbreaking study. The examination of what Kosmin calls the “territorialization” of the empire—the ideological constructions and experiences that bounded, ordered, and defined the imperial realms—changed the nature of Seleucid studies by intensifying the focus of the recent “spatial turn” in the humanities.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/18/2021 - 9:53am by .

(From the Classics Department at Princeton)

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Fri, 10/15/2021 - 9:14am by Erik Shell.
Poster for the play, Plautus's Casina. A minimalist digital design with a blue background; mountain shapes in pink, yellow, and orange; walls with windows in the same colors; and an ancient statue of a woman.

In the Spring of 2021, as her undergraduate UIC Honors College Capstone project, my student Luana Davila adapted and produced a version of Plautus’ Casina in the style of a telenovela. Due to COVID, she was not able to stage the play, but she produced a filmed version in collaboration with theater students at Columbia College in Chicago. For safety reasons, each actor’s scenes were filmed separately, then edited together. Below is an interview with Luana and the play’s director, Amy Gerwert Valdez, a Theater Directing major at Columbia.  [Editor’s note: the transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Krishni Burns: Can we start with a description of your project?

Luana Davila: The project aimed to tie together patriarchal society in ancient Rome and in Latinx cultures (or in the case of this production, Mexico). My play was adapted in such a way that the original storyline was changed as little as possible, proving that its seemingly ridiculous events made for a believable tale in modern Mexico. This was done to show how interconnected the two cultures are, even though they existed thousands of years apart.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/11/2021 - 10:33am by Krishni Burns.

The members of the Committee on the C. J. Goodwin Award of Merit are delighted to announce that the 2021 winners of the Goodwin Awards are Aileen R. Das (University of Michigan), Ellen Oliensis (University of California Berkeley), and Andreas Willi (University of Oxford).

Please click on the names below to read the full award citations written by committee members David Konstan and James I. Porter (co-chairs), Harriet Flower, Richard Hunter, and Amy Richlin.

Aileen R. Das

Ellen Oliensis

Andreas Willi

Citation for Aileen R. Das, Galen and the Arabic Reception of Plato’s Timaeus, Cambridge University Press, 2020

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Sun, 10/10/2021 - 6:52pm by Helen Cullyer.
A Greek red-figure cup depicting the disembodied torso of a man, arms outstretched, and women on either side holding the torso

The Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative (AnWoMoCo), launched by the SCS in 2019 as the Classics Everywhere initiative, supports projects that seek to engage broader publics — individuals, groups, and communities — in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies. As part of this initiative, the SCS has funded 111 projects, ranging from school programming to reading groups, prison programs, public talks and conferences, digital projects, and collaborations with artists in theater, opera, music, dance, and the visual arts. The initiative welcomes applications from all over the world. To date, it has funded projects in 25 states and 11 countries, including Canada, U.K., Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 10/08/2021 - 1:50pm by .
San Francisco

Hotel reservations are now open! 

The Hilton San Francisco Union Square is the official hotel for the 2022 Annual Meeting and will host the exhibit hall, all academic sessions, the opening night reception, and most related events.  The discounted group rate is $169 per night (plus applicable taxes). Additional rooms are available at the Hilton Parc 55 across the street.  A limited number are available for $159 per night (plus applicable taxes) for reservations made by October 31st.  Click on the links below to make your reservations. You can also make a reservation by calling 1-800-HILTONS and using code AIA or SCS to make your reservation. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 10/07/2021 - 3:26pm by Erik Shell.

Online Conference: “The Genre of Hymn in Antiquity”

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 10/06/2021 - 10:00am by Erik Shell.

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