Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Age of Athena - a follow up event to Athena: Sharing New Research

A few months ago this blog, which was initially started to report on aspects of the progress of a book I'm writing, was taken over by something highly relevant to that book - a conference I was organising at Roehampton on Athena. Since then, I've been discussing several possible follow-up events and activities, even including a tour of Athena-related sites throughout Europe.

 

One thing that emerged in the planning of the event was that two of the booklet contributors, Olivia Huntingdon-Stuart ("The Age of Athena") and Houman Sadri ("Synthesising male and female aspects of war in Azzarello and Chiang's Wonder Woman"), were engaging in Athena-related research with lots of interfaces - and from different disciplinary starting-points. Olivia is now planning a follow-up event, titled *The Age of Athena* which will explore gender norms and non-binary concepts via the vehicle of Athena.

Olivia is co-ordinating a meeting to discuss this event next month at Roehampton, on ***21 October***, in the Convent Parlour of Digby Stuart College. If anyone would like to join us, let me know. Or - if anyone would like to suggest possible discussion ideas (including those based away from London...), do get in contact. I'm aware that a trip to SE London in October might simply not be do-able for lots of people... Here’s the programme:

11.00: meet for coffee in Hive Café, Digby Stuart College

11.30-12.45: Introduction of scope of event; participants set out research and other relevant interests leading into informal presentations from Olivia Huntingdon-Stuart and Houman Sadri

12.45-1.45: Break for Lunch (the Hive Café and Digby Diner serve a range of moderately-priced options)

1.45-3.00: Further informal presentations including by Tony Keen. Other contributions welcome! Presentations to lead into discussion of where to go next - conference? activism?

3.00 onwards - wind down with coffee

Possible topics for this initial event and for future exploration are:

Gender norms and non-binary concepts in:
- Classical myth and culture (e.g. gods, divine attributes, parthenogenesis.)
- Medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary cultures
- Pop culture (e.g. Wonder Woman, Xena, advertisements.)
- Literature and art (e.g. Romance Literature, Shakespeare.)
Religion: ancient and modern
Philosophy (e.g. gender and ontology, gendering Plato’s theories.)Thanks for reading this far – let me know if you’d like to join us on 21st - or if anything here chimes with your own interests.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Athena Sharing - Conference Booklet

This morning I've made the final changes to the conference booklet and posted it online here. I've also started a discussion session about the work presented in the booklet.

Booklet blurb:

This one-day conference will share current research on a deity that has been a topic of interest since the dawn of classical scholarship and through its various ‘turns.’ The event will appraise various ways to approach the goddess by drawing together current researchers from the following seven (a good Athena-related number…) countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. The event takes place at a time of a resurgence of interest in the goddess evidenced, for instance, by the latest edition of the journal Pallas devoted to Athena-related papers. The event will both reflect and appraise this renewed interest. The Pallas volume will be on show, as will an Athena-related treasure owned by the University of Roehampton.

This booklet contains the conference programme and abstracts. You will also find details of Athena-related work from Roehampton researchers and from scholars in Sri Lanka, Sweden and Switzerland.
 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Ingo Schaaf - Kyria Athenais. Transformations of Pallas and Parthenon in Late Antique Athens

And now for the final of the abstracts for the Athena event on Friday 3 June - from Ingo Schaaf, of the University of Konstanz

Kyria Athenais. Transformations of Pallas and Parthenon in Late Antique Athens

“In the whole history of the transformation of Ancient cult names and sanctuaries into Christian ones, there is no example of such an easy and total permutation as it is the one of Pallas Athena and the Virgin Mary” (Gregorovius 1889: 64). Statements like these are paradigmatic for approaching the Athenian goddess in her Late Antique urban environment (see also Kraus 1950). However, it is far from granted that ‘the Lady of Athens’ (cf. Marin. Procl. 30) – still a city of high cultural appeal to Pagans and Christians alike (Wenzel 2010) – handed over her residence that smoothly. In fact, as recently shown, one cannot exclude more violent forms of transition in the case of Athena’s temple on the Acropolis (Pollini 2008).
 
Reviewing the textual narratives and the archaeological record pertaining to Athena and her most prominent cult site eventually turned into a “Christian Parthenon” (Kaldellis 2009), the paper investigates the goddess’s shifting role in her city, thus contributing to the larger discourse on Ancient mythology in Late Antique contexts (Leppin 2015).
 
Works cited
Gregorovius 1889 Gregorovius, F., Geschichte der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter 1, Stuttgart 1889.
Kaldellis 2009 Kaldellis, A., The Christian Parthenon. Classicism and pilgrimage in Byzantine Athens, Cambridge 2009.
Kraus 1950 Kraus, W., s.v. Athena, RAC 1 (1950), 870-881.
Leppin 2015 Leppin, H., Einleitung: Antike Mythologie in christlichen Kontexten der Spätantike, in: idem (ed): Antike Mythologie in christlichen Kontexten der Spätantike (Millennium-Studien 54), Berlin-Munich-Boston 2015, 1-18.
Mango 1995 Mango, C., The conversion of the Parthenon into a Church: The Tübingen Theosophy, DCAE 18 (1995), 201-203.
Pollini 2008 Pollini, J., Christian desecration and mutilation of the Parthenon, MDAI(A) 122 (2008), 207-228.
Wenzel 2010 Wenzel, A., Libanius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the ideal of
Athens in Late Antiquity, JLA 3 (2010), 264-285.
 

Marianne Kleibrink and Elizabeth Weistra - Cult in context: an early Athena in Calabria?

I'm delighted, now, to present the next abstract for Friday's Athena conference, from two scholars,
Marianne Kleibrink and Elizabeth Weistra, both of whom are based at the University of Groningen
Cult in context: an early Athena in Calabria?
In the 6th century BC the sanctuary on the Timpone della Motta at Francavilla Marittima, Calabria, was devoted to Athena, as evidenced by a bronze votive inscription and numerous terracotta figurines. Largely abandoned in the 5th century BC, the site continued to receive the latter
dedications. In these centuries the main identity of the venerated goddess, Athena, is clearly
recognizable, as opposed to the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in which the cult on the Timpone della Motta already flourished.

The Groningen excavations (1991-2004) of the large 8th c. BC apsidal timber Building V.b. supplied data of large-scale feasts, of sophisticated textile production and of divine or substitute-divine anthropomorphic couple figurines. Besides possibly ritual weaving, another link to Athena is formed by the ever-increasing evidence that Francavilla Marittima may be identified as ancient Lagaria, the town founded by Epeios, constructor of the Trojan horse, who dedicated his tools in an Athenaion along the Ionian coast.

The late- 8th to mid-7th c. BC sanctuary, with its large timber buildings, abundant votive gifts and fascinating iconography, is the focus of this paper. By means of contextual and iconographical analyses of two of the most eye-catching objects: a matt-painted sherd with a dancing couple and a terracotta pinax known as the ‘Dama di Sibari’, it will be argued that the 7th c. BC cult and identity of the goddess comprise earlier traditions that continue into the 6th c. BC. Aim of this paper is to decide whether or not the venerated goddess may be regarded as an Athena before the 6th c. BC.

Christopher Lillington-Martin - Symbolism of Athena, and her metamorphoses, by means of the olive, in Homer’s Odyssey and Procopius’ Wars

I'm pleased, now, to present the next abstract, from Christopher Lillington-Martin, a scholar with several academic identities, at: University of Reading, Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity, and Summer Fields, Oxford!

Symbolism of Athena, and her metamorphoses, by means of the olive, in Homer’s Odyssey and Procopius’ Wars

Athena is present in many scenes of the Odyssey and is often portrayed as transforming characters. I shall consider some of her symbolised presences, and her metamorphosis of certain characters and argue for Homer signalling her symbolic presence by introducing forms of the olive tree (olive-wood tools, olive products and places to sleep and olive-wood tableware). These forms of presence are different from Athena’s other presences. Her presence is normally unknown to characters but I shall show that they tend to act decisively when the olive is referred to in the poem. Cases of the olive symbolising Athena will be presented, involving Odysseus, Polyphemus, Calypso, Telemachus, Nausicaa, Eumaeus and Penelope, whilst contextualising and citing metamorphosis and the presence of both Athena and the olive within the Odyssey. I shall then examine Procopius’ treatment of Homer in the Wars. Procopius’ views on paganism and Christianity are still debated and those of his readership will have been diverse. I shall argue that Procopius offers symbolism to portray the goddess Athena as present in one significant scene by referring to a unique olive tree at the siege of Naples in 536, during the wars between Justinian's armies, led by Belisarius, and the Goths, reigned over by Theodahad.
 
 

Sandya Sistac - ‘Her do thou smite’ (Il. 5.132): a preliminary study of the relationships between Athena and Aphrodite in Homeric epic

And now for the next abstract - Sandya Sistac, PhD student at Université Toulouse-2-Jean Jaures.

‘Her do thou smite’ (Il. 5.132): a preliminary study of the relationships between Athena and Aphrodite in Homeric epic”

Following in the steps of Jean-Pierre Vernant, Marcel Detienne and, more recently, the studies of Gabriella Pironti on Aphrodite, a major part of my PhD (started some months ago) will focus on identifying and analysing Athena’s interactions with other Homeric divine beings. This “divine network” will hopefully bring forward clues regarding the place held by Athena’s divine puissance in the poems, which in turn may call forth an assessment of the Homeric network’s potential specificities compared to Hesiod’s for instance. From these observations, I intend to achieve an accurate characterization of Athena’s puissance as the Greeks understood it at the time of composition of the poems and as they still received it when the Iliad and the Odyssey were eventually written down. Obviously, we must never forget that this study’s frame of reference is a carefully crafted, literary one, hence the particular attention that must be given to the codes of epic literature and to the intrinsic logic of the poems at all times.

My paper will deal with the relationship between Athena and Aphrodite on which, as observed by Gabriella Pironti in her book (Entre ciel et guerre. Figures d’Aphrodite en Grèce ancienne, Kernos Supplément, 18, Liège, 2007), Diomedes’ aristeia in the fifth Book of the Iliad made a lasting impression. What can we learn of Athena from her part in these particular feats? As the openly conflictual relationship that she entertains with Aphrodite goes patently beyond a sibling quarrel, what does it tell us about the puissances in attendance? And how do they fit into the Homeric narrative and cosmic network?

Owen Rees - The disappearance of Athena from classical warrior-departure scenes

I'm pleased, now, to present the next abstract for Friday's conference - from Owen Rees, PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The presence of Athena in ancient Greek warrior-departure scenes is considered a standard adaptation of the archetypal 'departure scene'. Her presence in these scenes has influenced their interpretation by modern scholars some of whom regard them as expressions of polis ideology, with Athena naturally interpreted as the embodiment of the polis. However, this paper will explore the extent of her prolificacy, and its relative demise during the classical period. It will then discuss the growing representation of winged-women, and the automatic identification made by scholars with Nike, based upon her association with Athena. Finally, this paper shall dispute the automatic association with Nike, propose an alternative identification for the winged woman, and challenge the Athena sub-theme of departure scenes as being anomalous.