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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A tan piece of paper with a pencil drawing of part of a double helix shape, comprised of lines and circles

One of the things that makes Classics exciting is its openness to new ideas and innovative approaches to the study of antiquity. For instance, classicists have been in the vanguard of the digital humanities, using new methods to curate and analyze texts (e.g. TLG, DLL, Open Greek and Latin, and so on), inscriptions (EAGLE, PHI), and papyri (papyri.info), adopting innovative GIS technologies and platforms (Pleiades, Orbis), and deploying powerful tools to unlock precious fragments of lost works. Classical archaeologists, too, have a particularly strong tradition of openness to new tools and techniques, from isotope geochemistry in the study of ancient marble to novel ways of cataloguing and quantifying material and visualizing ancient structures and sites. Vibrant subfields like bioarchaeology and zooarchaeology are inherently interdisciplinary. More broadly, ideas and approaches informed by anthropology, economics, and psychology have enriched the study of antiquity for decades.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 12:54pm by .

Res Difficiles 2022

Organizers:              Hannah Čulík-Baird (Boston University) and

Joseph Romero (University of Mary Washington)

Date:                          Friday, May 20, 2022

Abstract Deadline:  Friday, December 3, 2021

Platform:                    Webinar

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 12:24pm by Erik Shell.
A black krater vase with red-figure depicts Zeus caressing Io while Hermes slays Argus

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, UK, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

This post centers on two projects that employ Greek and Roman literature in innovative ways to deal with contemporary issues. The first project draws inspiration from Euripides’ Trojan Women to facilitate the expression and sharing of intense experiences between students in the University of California and female prisoners, while the second project adapts Ovid’s Metamorphoses in a one-woman show that explores the role of women in our post #MeToo era.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/16/2021 - 11:35am by .

QUEEN: REIMAGINING POWER FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT

A virtual symposium hosted by the Gallatin School of Individualize Study

Ancient queens established a powerful public presence through visual and material culture, and their legacies continue to shape and impact the ways we express ideas about race, gender, and identity.

QUEEN: REIMAGINING POWER FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT is an interdisciplinary, virtual symposium hosted by NYU Gallatin on September 23-24, 2021. This symposium integrates scholarly and creative knowledge production from different perspectives that broaden the stakes and widen the impact of historical work. The symposium will model collaborative, critical, and public approaches to history and art by including the expertise of students, artists, performers, and educators beyond the university alongside the work of scholars and curators. Spanning two days, the symposium comprises seven panel discussions, five keynote talks, one performance, and an interactive website featuring public engagement, student work, and more.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 12:03pm by Erik Shell.

Multiple Explanations in the Ancient Greek and Roman World

Virtual seminar series, 2021-2022

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 10:19am by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers: 

XR and the Humanities: Virtual Education in the 21st Century

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 9:16am by Erik Shell.

“What Has Antiquity Ever Done for Us?” The Vitality of Ancient Reception Studies, Now

An international virtual conference presented by Antiquity in Media Studies (AIMS)

15-18 December 2021

Deadline for submissions: 15 October 2021

The officers of Antiquity in Media Studies invite proposals for presentations that illuminate the ongoing vitality of antiquity in recent discourses. Despite decades of institutional disinvestment in the study of antiquity, a venerated deep past figured as a powerful shared imaginary remains a perennial, emotionally evocative, even highly lucrative concept in myriad contemporary media, around the world and across all manner of identity lines. Among antiquities, of particularly widespread interest has been the millennia of history centered on the Mediterranean and dubbed “classical” among successor societies, both self-appointed and colonized. From Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to Luis Alfaro’s Mojada, from Hideki Takeuchi’s Thermae Romae to Pat Barker’s Silence of the Girls, to politicians' and pundits' invocations of the Persian Wars and the fall of Rome, each year produces more receptions of this antiquity. Beyond the Greco-Roman-centered past, all antiquities mobilized for such cultural work today are welcome at this ancient reception studies conference. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/14/2021 - 11:30am by Erik Shell.

(Published on behalf of Werner Reiß)

Dear colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that Professor Werner Riess and his team announce the launch of the new database TheDefix (Thesaurus Defixionum), which replaces the earlier version TheDeMa (Thesaurus Defixionum Magdeburgensis). TheDefix is an open access Heurist database hosted by the University of Hamburg, Department of Ancient History, and can be reached at the following link:

www.thedefix.uni-hamburg.de.

As its predecessor TheDeMa, TheDefix seeks to collect all published curse inscriptions from the ancient world, providing the original texts, data on their material textual features as well as bibliographical information on each tablet.
Users are welcome to contact us if they need any support in the usage of the database or to suggest any improvement at the following addresses:

Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß: werner.riess@uni-hamburg.de
Dr. Sara Chiarini: sara.chiarini@uni-hamburg.de

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 09/14/2021 - 11:28am by Erik Shell.
NEH Logo

August, 2021

Below is a list of the most recent NEH grantees and their Classically-themed projects. The NEH helps fund a number of SCS initiatives, and their support affects the field of Classics at a national and local level.

Grantees

  • Julie Montione (Valencia College) - "Timeless Parallels: Classical Literature and Veteran Experiences"
  • Lauren Ristvet (University of Pennsylvania) - "Eastern Mediterranean Gallery"
  • Clifford Ando (University of Chicago) - "Roman Statutes: Renewing Roman Law"
View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 09/13/2021 - 1:35pm by Erik Shell.
A painting of four women sitting in a room weaving. One woman is spinning wool, two are arranging wool, and one is picking up tools off the floor. In the background is another room filled with women.

Welcome to Auia loca: New Paths in Classics, a new series launched by the SCS Communications Committee! Taking inspiration from Lucretius as he wanders through remote and unfrequented paths (auia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante | trita solo, DRN 4.1–2), Auia loca seeks to spotlight new initiatives which themselves represent new and untrodden paths for Classics, as both a discipline and an academic field.

To kick off the series, it is my pleasure to introduce Hesperides, a new scholarly organization devoted to the study of Classics in Luso-Hispanic Worlds. Hesperides recently gained Category II affiliate status with the SCS, an affiliation which entitles the organization to a panel or paper session at the annual meeting. It joins a host of other SCS affiliated groups which likewise focus on the rich and complex receptions of the ancient Mediterranean across modernity, including Eos and the Asian and Asian American Classical Caucus (AAACC).

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/13/2021 - 10:23am by .

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