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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Call for Papers

Saturday, February 26, 2022 

University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) 

 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 07/21/2021 - 12:12pm by Erik Shell.

Call for Proposals – Symposium Cumanum 2022

The Vergilian Society seeks proposals for the twenty-eighth annual Symposium Cumanum, to take place at the Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana in Cuma, Italy in late June 2022. We will consider a proposal on any theme pertaining to Vergil and his times, although preference may be given to a subject that has not been treated recently. Descriptions of previous symposia can be found on the Vergilian Society website, at https://www.vergiliansociety.org/symposium_cumanum/

Each proposal should be prepared by the person who is intending to direct the symposium, or by the lead person if co-directors are envisioned.  The successful director will have logistical assistance from the Vergilian Society’s Italian staff and from the executive committee; a set of guidelines is available to assist in planning.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:09am by Erik Shell.
Young man with a volumen, fresco from Pompeii, 1st c.C.E., Naples.

Our fifth interview in the Contingent Faculty Series is a virtual conversation between Dr. Taylor Coughlan and Dr. Daniel Libatique.  Dr. Libatique is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the College of the Holy Cross, from which he received his undergraduate degree and where he has taught since 2018. Daniel received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 2018, and his research interests include Augustan literature, Greek drama, gender politics and sexuality, reception studies, and student-centered pedagogy. In his research, Daniel’s approaches to texts often leverage various modern theoretical frameworks, including narratology and performance theory. His publications investigate topics like the cultural reception of Ovid in our modern #MeToo era, the creation of a Latin curriculum based on morphological and syntactic frequencies in real Latin texts, and attributions of speech in the fragments of Sophocles’ Tereus. Daniel is also heavily involved in the application of digital humanities to the study of Classics and is currently working with his colleagues at Holy Cross to restructure their introductory Greek curriculum. For more of Daniel’s work, check out his website.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:02am by Daniel Libatique.

(Sent on behalf of Athanassios Vergados)

We are pleased to announce the programme of our upcoming conference on ‘Reflections on Language in Early Greece’ that will take place on-line via Zoom on 1st-3rd September 2021. To obtain the zoom details, please register at https://newcastleuniversity.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArdO-uqzwsEtCNY8qTfKAbs9cvCEPsZr17.

Please note that all times are GMT+1 (UK time).

 

 

1st September

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 07/09/2021 - 9:07am by Erik Shell.

AIA and SCS have been working on detailed plans for our 2022 joint Annual Meeting based on the results of our recent survey. Since 60% of respondents expressed a preference for a hybrid meeting, we are planning for our first ever hybrid conference in January 2022. This means speakers will be able to present in person in San Francisco or remotely in each session, and attendees will be able to attend sessions in the hotel or virtually. This is an ambitious undertaking and some elements of the conference cannot easily have a hybrid format; for example, social events will need to be either in person or virtual. However, we aim to make the meeting as hybrid as is feasible given logistics, costs, and staff capacity.  We anticipate a two-tier scale of registration rates, with virtual attendance costing less than in person attendance. There are many details still to be worked out, so please bear with us and we will update you later this Summer and in the Fall.

Members who made submissions to the SCS program committee this spring can expect to receive notification emails about the program committee’s decisions within the next few days.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 07/07/2021 - 6:46am by Helen Cullyer.
The Death of Caesar, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1867. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Today marks half a year since insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, occupied the Senate chamber, violently assaulted Capitol Police defending the building, and threatened to assassinate the then-Vice President and other elected officials. In recent days, the House of Representatives has approved a plan for a formal investigation — on partisan lines, after Senate Republicans previously blocked the passage of a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission approved by the House in a bipartisan vote.

We mustn’t forget the assault on the peaceful transition of power, on the foundations of American democracy itself. And we shouldn’t forget that the insurrection is tied up with racist receptions of ancient Greece and Rome. Some insurrectionists came in Greek or Roman-themed cosplay, after all, and the right has long had a dangerous fascination with Sparta.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 07/06/2021 - 9:57am by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

Call for Papers 

Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques (FIEC)

XVI International Conference, 1–5 August 2022
 

Mexico City 

(Virtual Meeting Format) 

Hesperides Sponsored Session 

"Hesperian Transformations: New Approaches to the Classical Tradition" 

Proposal Deadline: July 12, 2021 

  

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 07/02/2021 - 1:29pm by Erik Shell.
the Delphic oracle as interpreted by Anton van Dale in the 1700 edition of his book De oraculis veterum ethnicorum dissertationes duae

Joseph Fontenrose’s The Delphic Oracle (1978) fundamentally reshaped how we think about Greek oracular divination today. In this book, he argued that the literary evidence for ambiguous verse oracles emanating from Delphi is incommensurate with the epigraphic record. In the Histories, an early and prominent source of oracular lore, Herodotus often quotes vague or ambiguous prophetic verses of the Delphic priestesses that point toward unexpected and ironic moments of fulfillments: the “great empire” that Croesus toppled was, unfortunately, his own (1.86.1). Most inscriptions, however, report oracular pronouncements simply as clear statements of fact: “… it is better [for the Praxiergidai] to put the peplos on [the goddess]…” (Sokolowski, LSCG 15). Fontenrose reasoned that the inscriptions were the more reliable witnesses and concluded from his comparison that most of the famous stories about oracles in works of ancient historiography like Herodotus’ were ahistorical.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 06/28/2021 - 5:21pm by Daniel J. Crosby.

We are pleased to announce Plato 2022, an interdisciplinary workshop that will investigate the contemporary relevance of Plato’s ethical and political thought. The workshop will be held virtually on June 9-10, 2022. We welcome papers on Plato’s ethical and political thinking and encourage submissions that relate to contemporary events. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 06/28/2021 - 11:27am by Erik Shell.

Do you teach ancient history, Latin, or any aspect of the ancient world within humanities courses at a community college? Join other community college faculty for the inaugural meeting of a new group convened by the Society for Classical Studies. You can sign up here for the virtual meeting on Thursday July 15, 2021 at 4pm EDT / 3pm CDT / 1pm PDT and also use the form to suggest topics of interest for discussion. Registered attendees will receive the zoom link on July 14th, 24 hours prior to the meeting.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 06/24/2021 - 9:49pm by Helen Cullyer.

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