CLASSICS PRESENTS ... 2021-22 Speakers

Please note that all in attendance to our events must conform to the Queen's Vaccination Policy

Winter 2022
poster with info re Mar 28/22 speaker Dr. Roberta Stewart




Dr. Roberta Stewart
Professor, Department of Classics,
Dartmouth College

Monday, March 28th @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

Cicero Slave-Holder: Cicero, Tiro, and the Relationships of Roman Slavery.

Cicero's correspondence with the enslaved person Tiro  gives us an archive we otherwise do not possess from classical antiquity: a sustained carefully fashioned dialogue between a slave owner and the enslaved person whose labor he claims. The letters allow us to track the contest for labor and the personal relationships of slavery, as well as the effects of Roman manumission on the relationship of slave-holder and the enslaved person manumitted into citizenship. The letters present a discourse of shared confidences and concerned care articulated by Cicero for Tiro, and they suggest the parameters of action for an enslaved person. Most important they reveal the role of the family in the manumission and freedom of Tiro. Manumission was for the familia Cicero a family affair and everyone laid claim to the patronage of Tiro and the obligations owed to them by him. The freed slave emerges as embedded in enduring relationships of obligation, especially obligatory affect.

poster with info re Mar 14/22 speaker Dr. Pierre Bonnechere



Dr. Pierre Bonnechere
Professor, Department of History, University of Montreal

Monday, March 14th @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

Whirling Greece. A neglected aspect of Greek thought and life.

The vortex appears, as soon as we dive into the sources, as one of the most powerful matrices in the system of representations of the Greek (and Roman) civilization, in spite of the lack of interest that has been shown in it so far. With more than 300 terms relating to "twirling", e.g. din-, eil-, helik-, kukl-, spear-, streph-, strob- and related, the Greek language makes our eyes sparkle, as soon as we become aware, at an incredibly rich universe of meanings. The reading of song 21 of the Iliad or the end of Aeschylus' Prometheus is enough to convince oneself of this, while translators often hesitate to translate these words in the first sense of "turning". Very present in iconography or religion when we know how to track it down, the vortex appears  everywhere in literature, from Homer to Nonnos, through the Alexandrians and their Latin heirs, or in philosophy, from the Pre-Socratics to the Neoplatonists, through Plato, Democritus or Lucretius. The paper will focus on thunderbolts in archaic cosmic crashes (Titans, Typhon, Giants), both in literature and art, and will close with some thoughts about Ganymedes.

poster with info re Feb 28/22 speaker Dr. Gareth Williams

Dr. Gareth Williams
Anthon Professor of Latin Languages and Literature, Department of Classics, Columbia University

Monday, February 28th @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

Received Wisdom: Celibacy, Cicero, and the Case against Marriage in Ermolao Barbaro’s Quattrocento Venice

This talk features the vastly erudite Venetian humanist, Ermolao Barbaro (1454-93). At 18 he wrote a tract entitled On celibacy, in which he argued that the celibate life is far preferable to a married existence. This was a remarkable position for a Venetian of his standing to take, as he was expected to follow the traditional path of state service and marriage so as to produce the next generation of the Venetian ruling elite. This talk explores the implications of Barbaro’s views on celibacy and marriage in the context both of classical reception and of his own career path in later life down to his premature death in 1493.

poster with info re Feb 07/22 speaker Dr. Kale Coghlan

Dr. Kale Coghlan
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto

Monday, February 7th @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

Eratosthenes, The Gaze of the Geographer and Ptolemaic Power

Toward the end of the 3rd century BCE, Eratosthenes of Cyrene, summoned from Athens to Alexandria by Ptolemy III, initiated a new paradigm in Greek geographic writing with his text in three books. Modern scholars have largely considered his work to be an early attempt at mathematical geography. Little attention has been paid to the extent to which the geographic project of Eratosthenes and his resulting map of the known world continues the celebration of Ptolemaic rule by intellectuals, including the most important poets, in the courts of Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III. The focus on the mathematical elements of the fragments implies an objectivity on the part of the author. The image of the world is placed before the eyes of the audience to interpret, but behind the façade of an objective geographical projection of the oikoumene, Eratosthenes broadcasts ideas of dynastic self-representation of the Ptolemies.

I will explore aspects of what is Ptolemaic about Eratosthenes’ Geography. After situating his life and career in the context of Hellenistic Alexandria, I will discuss the idea of cartographic vision in the Greek tradition which summons images of the divine and, when attempted by men, evokes suspicion and ridicule. By embracing cartographic vision authoritatively, Eratosthenes communicates ideas about the divine status of the Ptolemaic sovereigns and the hegemonic capacities of Ptolemaic institutions to produce an up-to-date, post-Alexander, vision of the world.

poster with info re Jan 31/21 speaker Dr. Sinclair Bell



Dr. Sinclair Bell, Professor in the Department of Art History at Northern Illinois University, School of Art and Design

Monday, January 31st @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

How to do the Archaeology of "Race" in the Roman Empire: Novel Approaches to Ancient Objects

The representation of foreign cultures with manifest “racial” differences, such as unfamiliar physical traits or strange-seeming ethnic customs, has been a longstanding and often visceral site for human artistic expression. The visual and material culture of the Roman Empire (c. 100 BCE-200 CE) provides a particularly abundant record of such cultural encounters, which render visible complex formulations of foreignness, social hierarchy, and power.

This lecture focuses on how Roman artists represented Aethiopians (Black Africans) in different visual media, and explores issues related to the patronage, production, and viewership of these works. It looks at the conventions of their imagery, the critical axioms of their study, and their contemporary re-presentation in a museum setting.


poster with info re January 24th speaker Dr. Lisa Maher

"I am a prehistoric archaeologist and geoarchaeologist specializing in the prehistory of Southwest Asia. I finished my PhD at the University of Toronto, where I experienced fieldwork in Jordan for the first time and was hooked. After a post-doc and research position at the University of Cambridge, I joined the Anthropology Department at Berkeley as an environmental archaeologist. I am interested in exploring the complex relationships between people and the environment, including the creation and transformation of landscapes. I have been running archaeological projects in Jordan for over twenty years, and I have also worked as a geoarchaeologist in many other countries throughout the world. Recently, I’ve broadened my horizons to explore island archaeology and the arrival of humans in Cyprus and Hawaii."



Dr. Lisa Maher, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Monday, January 24th @ 4:30-6:00pm ET via Zoom
(please contact to receive the Zoom link)

Persistent Place-Making in Prehistory: the Creation, Maintenance, and Transformation of Landscapes in Southwest Asia (and Beyond)

Few cultural developments have been as well-studied as when people began living in villages and producing their own food. Yet in Southwest Asia, during the preceding ten thousand years of prehistory, Epipalaeolithic (23,000-11,500 cal BP) hunter-gatherers initiated and experienced dramatic cultural transformations that included building the earliest permanent houses and villages, storing food, developing a rich and diverse artistic repertoire, establishing wide-ranging social networks, intensifying plant use, domesticating animals, and creating strong ties to specific places in the landscape as evidenced by some of the world’s earliest aggregation sites and cemeteries. These hunter-gatherer groups had highly complex, knowledgeable and dynamic relationships with their local environments. Ongoing work in Jordan and Cyprus is revising our knowledge of these periods with evidence that markers of social complexity have an earlier foundation andchallenging our long-held assumptions about how hunter-gatherers here perceived and constructed spaces and places, and the intersections between them. Investigation of human-environment interactions, the role of technological knowledge in creating social networks, the use of large-scale aggregation sites, and symbolic features of human burials, for example, all support a longer chronology of cultural development and continuity and in situ change among hunter-gatherers here that significantly predates the Neolithic. Indeed, it suggests that the features and practices often considered hallmarks of the Neolithic were enacted within a hunter-gatherer world and worldview.

Fall 2021

Dr. Jennifer P. Moore, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Trent University

Tuesday, November 16th, 2:30-4:00pm in Mac-Corry Hall room D216 (if you have accessibility requirements, please contact

The Kneader of Patience Tastes It: An Ethnoarchaeology of Roman North Africa

What is the common element between the characteristic layout of houses of Roman North Africa, the persistence of old technologies when new and supposedly better ones were available, and women being possessed by spirits? Ethnoarchaeology offers a solution: observing how people today interact with their material culture, with a view to inspiring new ways of thinking about how their ancient counterparts did so. Present-day Tunisians offer an intriguing opportunity for such an approach, since they still craft and use items that have been part of their heritage for over two millennia. These traditional practices are most evident among modest villagers and especially women, individuals who tend to be under-recognized today, much as their Roman equivalents were. The resultant investigation nuances considerations of economic modes of production and exchange, gendered roles, the functionality of homes, and religious rituals. To explore these aspects, we will focus on two kinds of artifact that have maintained a place of both literal and associative centrality: hand-made ceramic ovens and braziers.




Poster with info about Nov 18/21 talk by Dr. Jennifer P. Moore

Dr. Kelly Olson
Professor in the Department of Classics and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Western University

Tuesday, November 9th, 2:30-4:00pm
Watson 517 (if you have  accessibility requirements, please contact

Dress and Adornment at the Roman Imperial Court

Clothing at the Roman Imperial court was a means of display for individuals and was also part of the politics of display under different regimes; it was the material creator of  social position and an important tool of social regulation. In this paper I begin by examining the dress of the courtiers (that is, companions of the imperial family), then move on to the dress of the emperors and empresses themselves. Authors from 30 BCE - 330 CE utilize dress remarkably consistently as a rhetorical tool: as shorthand for an emperor’s  or empress’ good or bad personal qualities, and to shed light on an emperor’s (or imperial family’s) character and rule. The next section, on the splendour of court dress, examines the luxury of clothing items in the imperial treasuries (thesauri), as well as the job titles of those slaves in the aula involved in appearance. The final section, on the impact of court dress, concludes that the imperial court did have some influence on fashions in hairstyle and dress outside court circles, even if the direction and configuration of this influence is shifty and impressionistic.

poster with info re Classics Presents Nov 9th speaker Dr. Kelly Olson

Dr. Laura Banducci, Associate Professor, Carleton University

Tuesday, October 19, 2:30-4:00pm EST via Zoom (please contact to receive the Zoom link)

"Multifunctionality and the aesthetics of Roman cooking pots."

My work takes as its starting point the idea that ancient Romans had complex relationships with their everyday objects -- just as modern humans do. Objects were made, purchased, used, repaired, re-used, and discarded for many different competing reasons. When archaeologists use a number of different techniques together, it is possible to understand something about ancient objects' complex use-lives.

This project uses the study of vessel form, use wear analysis, and ceramic petrology to consider the reasons why a particularly popular type of cooking pot, internal red-slip ware (often called "Pompeiian redware") was reproduced for such a long period of time (the 3rd century BCE until the 2nd century CE) and so widespread throughout the Mediterranean. Approaching this vessel type from a number of different angles and studying it in the context of the other types of pottery which were popular at the time allows us to fruitfully consider the possibilities for multifunctionality in object use, bringing us closer to the ancient consumers' experience in the kitchen and at table.

Poster for Dr. Laura Banducci's presentation. All information is copied on webpage. Poster also includes two images of the Pompeiian redware that Dr. Banducci will be discussing.


Classical Association of Canada Lecture Tour

Dr. Lea Stirling, Professor in the Department of Classics, University of Manitoba

Monday, September 27, 2021 starting at 5:30pm in Watson Hall, Room 517 (if you have accessibility requirements, please contact

"Toppling Statues Then and Now: Roman Emperors, Pagan Idols, Queen Victoria"

In 98 CE the Roman senate passed a decree to erase the inscriptions and obliterate the memory (including images) of the deposed emperor Domitian. Certain other deposed emperors or public figures received similar treatment in a process known as damnatio memoriae, the condemning of memory. The unwanted statues might be destroyed, repurposed for the next emperor, or warehoused. Christian chronicles record attacks on “idols,” with the destruction of the Serapeum at Alexandria and its marvel-working statue in 392 CE being a famous example. Sometimes the damaged statues were left in place; other times the remains were obliterated or removed from the site. Recent years have seen defacement, overthrow, or removal of statues of figures who upheld systems of colonization or slavery, including the toppling of a statue of Queen Victoria at the Manitoba legislature on Canada Day, 2021.

Even though the practicalities and language of desecration and the resulting shock seem similar in these episodes, a closer look at agency, the role of authorities and other groups, the underlying social or political situations, and the short- or long-term outcomes shows differences in the three types of scenarios.

Poster for Dr. Lea Stirling's presentation. All information is copied on webpage. Poster also contains photos of a bust of Germanicus - damaged and with a cross carved into his forehead, a column with an inscription that has been damaged, and an illustration of men pulling down a statue.