2nd Annual Research Workshop - Program and abstracts


August 5-7, 2022

Organized by: Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece, Harvard University
Workshop Coordination: Evangelos Katsarelis, Spyridon Rangos

All times displayed in EET

Friday, August 5, 2022

Workshop opening, 19:30

Opening remarks on behalf of Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS) and the workshop coordinators

Opening presentation by the guest speaker

According to most ancient Greek authors, the polis (city) is a permanent settlement that promotes social life. In addition, the city is a form of political association, a polity (πολιτεία) that safeguards the self-sufficiency of its citizens and affects neighboring political entities. The Arab civilization emerged in a world comprised of empires. According to his heirs, Muhammad's vision was the establishment of the caliphate, which has no territorial limits. In other words, the caliphate was an empire, governed by the shari'a, which was revealed to Muhammad, as the guide to human happiness. From this perspective, it is obvious that the concept of the caliphate was at odds with that of the ancient Greek polis and the most part of ancient Greek political thought. However, despite the different conditions that prevailed in the Arab world, Greek political philosophy became a useful tool for intellectuals in the caliphate that allowed them to articulate a coherent and stable framework for political organization. The rapid expansion of the Arabic empire and the pressing needs the Arabs were confronted with compelled them to seek solutions and lessons in classical political theory and to reconfigure the ancient Greek concept of the polis and the theory of the constitutions.

21:00 Dinner for the workshop participants

Saturday, August 6, 2022

1st Session, 10:30 – 13:00

Archaeology is associated in the public imagination with exciting discoveries, such as the one in Amphipolis, which are automatically incorporated into a nationalistic discourse. Most often than not, however, archaeology is dismissed as a sterile and dry presentation of endless rows of artefacts, totally disassociated from the present. In this talk, I would like to present the pervasive (and positive) changes that have taken place in Greek archaeology in the last 50 years: the new interpretive principles which have been borrowed from the social sciences, the new methodologies adopted from the natural sciences, and –most importantly– new perceptions of the past which is seen as a way to reflect on and to engage with the present. I will illustrate these developments with an example, our project in the prehistoric site of Ayios Vasileios near modern Sparti, which involves the excavation, study, and publication of an early Mycenaean (1750-1450 BC.) cemetery, in use during the period when Ayios Vasileios rose in significance and became the political center of Mycenaean Laconia.

Μost of the information about the Mycenaean textile culture and technology derives from research on the palatial period (Late Helladic III) and is substantially based on indirect sources, such as written documents, textile tools, iconography, and archaeological remains other than textiles. Indeed, it is known that the Mycenaean palaces controlled a sophisticated textile industry that produced large quantities of textiles, involved a great part of the population, and represented a significant branch of the economy. Yet, our knowledge about the textiles of the early Mycenaean period, known as the shaft graves period, is almost non-existent.

For the first time, there is an opportunity to dive into the secrets of the early Mycenaean textile production by studying the actual objects themselves with state-of-the-art scientific techniques. The project investigates a large textile corpus composed of more than 20 fabrics discovered in the Grave Circles of Mycenae, now in the National Archaeological Museum. The ongoing study, combining macroscopic and microscopic techniques with scientific analyses, already demonstrates that the textiles chosen to be buried along the Mycenaean elite were of the same high quality as the rest of the impressive artefacts in the graves that confirm the frequent Homeric expression ΠΟΛΥΧΡΥΣΑΙ ΜΥΚΗΝΑΙ.

The century that followed the fall of the Mycenaean palaces (12th century BC) is characterized by upheavals and intense mobility of populations in the eastern Mediterranean. Despite the insecurity of these times, the collapse of the palatial system led to social transformations and the development of new residential nuclei and commercial networks, which mark the last glimpse of the Mycenaean world. In Attica, the most prosperous site, according to the data so far, is not the Athenian Acropolis and the surrounding area, but Perati (ancient deme of Steiria/ modern Porto Rafti) on the eastern coast. Its large cemetery testifies to the presence of a prosperous community living for almost a century there, based on trade with the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean. A few years ago, a cemetery of the same period (Late Helladic III C) was partly excavated on the same coast and just 2 km western from Perati. The study of its finds, sharpens the image of prosperity on the east coast, giving us the opportunity to reconsider changes in the habitation of the area and its relation with the Aegean world (Peloponnese, central Greece, Cyclades, Dodecanese) and the Eastern Mediterranean, suggesting that times of crisis and recession are also times of new opportunities.

Athens, in two different periods of antiquity, presents evidence of an increase in its mortuary spaces, which is manifested either by the founding of new cemeteries or/and by the expansion of the existing ones. The reason in both cases is the same: the influx of a large population that of necessity settled temporarily or permanently in Athens. In the eleventh century BC, after the collapse of the Mycenaean palatial system, population groups migrated not only from Attica but also from elsewhere. In the fifth century BC, there was a movement of people from Attica, due to the Peloponnesian War.

In both phases, and despite the large interval of time between them, the settlement of the newcomers triggered similar developments with respect to the practical organization and topography of the city, since similar were the primary needs that they (the incomers) sped to meet: the securing of burial spaces and the expression of their identity within and through these in their new abode. The ancient authors refer to both cases of forced resettlement in Athens, but only with historical accuracy for the fifth century BC. The tenth century BC was for them too a distant past, which, however, they utilized in elaborating the theory of the autochthony of the Athenians, the mainstay of Athenian identity and of the projection of the Athenians’s superiority in relation to the rest of the Greeks.

In the present work, presenting the pre-Christian past of Mount Athos is attempted. The research is seen from the perspective of the epigraphic evidence that has been found on the peninsula after systematic on-site research by previous and newer scholars.

Most of the inscriptions have been identified by travelers and scholars of the 19th and early 20th century, who on the sidelines of their archaeological excursions in the wider region of Macedonia visited Mount Athos in order to record and save the inscriptional material. In contrast to the Byzantine past of Mount Athos, which has been systematically studied, the pre-Christian past has been studied piecemeal, while the study of pre-Christian inscriptions is limited to scattered records of the material, without further literary deepening and interpretation.

In this research, twenty-two pre-Christian inscriptions (Hellenistic, Roman, and Imperial period) are recorded from the wider area of the Athos peninsula and a brief commentary on the content is attempted. Therefore, the main purpose of the research is twofold. On the one hand, the presentation of the epigraphic material is sought, on the other hand, and as far as possible, the dating, the investigation of the origin of the inscriptions, and the examination of them from a linguistic, philological, interpretive, and stylistic perspective is attempted.

13:00-14:30 Break - Lunch for the workshop participants

2nd Session, 14:30 – 17:00

Demosthenes’s speech Against Timocrates was written for a certain Diodorus who appears to be the prosecutor in a public trial against an inexpedient law. In order to achieve both the repeal of the law and the conviction of its author, the orator exploits an array of arguments which, rather than merely stressing the defendant’s legal violations, suggest also that Timocrates acted deliberately when enacting his bill: his intention was to favour three specific people and, not least, to harm the city. In my presentation, I aim to explore and evaluate the way in which Timocrates is portrayed as a man who plots against the Athenian people, and his law is presented as a serious public danger which needs to be eliminated. After a close examination of Demosthenes’s arguments, it is to be noted that the defendant’s intentions are not adequately proven, but they are nevertheless crucial in shaping Timocrates’s ethos and presenting him as an enemy of the city.

A variety of conspiracies is found throughout the chronological range of Dionysius of Halicarnassus’s Antiquitates Romanae. The historian narrates these conspiracies by intervening frequently, in order to reconstruct the historical event to the greatest extent possible.

These narratives are interspersed with fabricated public or private speeches, citations of historical sources, and details about Roman culture (usually compared to the narrator’s present times and/or the Greek culture). These shed light on the multifaceted nature of a conspiracy, as well as the characters of the conspirators and their victims. The immediate surviving source for the events narrated by Dionysius is the Ab Urbe condita of Titus Livius. Through the comparison of the two historians, the personal touch of Dionysius is highlighted especially in the conspiracy narratives. It is noteworthy that few of the conspiracies are handed down by Livius as mere historical facts, which, however, Dionysius chooses to narrate as conspiracies.

The purpose of this presentation is to identify and present the means Dionysius employs in order to turn a simple event into a conspiracy. Inevitably, the findings will come from a parallel comparison of the passages from both the works of Dionysius and Livius, in combination with later sources, such as Dio Cassius.

The paper looks into the literary/dramatic receptions of the Potiphar’s Wife motif, spanning a wide range from the Old Testament, Egyptian and Homeric tradition, up to the equivalent renegotiations of the mythic episode of Phaedra and Hippolytus in the first extant version of the Euripidean Hippolytus Stephanêphoros and the contemporary theatrical versions by several playwriters. The narratives are listed centered on the degree of their similarity to the earliest form of the mytheme in the Genesis of the Old Testament, but also based on the mytheme’s dramatization in Euripides’s version of Hippolytus Stehanêphoros. The parallelization of the different variations on the same theme, based on the comparative method, brings out each version’s exclusive imported elements and, more generally, the extent to which they either diverge from or converge upon the studied episode. This results in the creation of a system of textual correlations according to each author’s specific choices and recasting of the borrowed literary material. At the same time, this intertextual approach contributes to our understanding of the behavioural code and action of each enamoured stepmother/hostess, as well as of the reaction of each desired young man/stepson. It also sheds light upon our understanding of the rushed, frivolous, and ill-advised (re)action of the “cheated” husband, who decides and acts catastrophically after lending an ear to false and fabricated allegations, supplemented by the function of contrived dialogues between false witnesses on the basis of “damning” evidence.

In Sophocles’s Antigone, eros has the metaphorical sense of the irrational which is further than the sexual passion of a lover and refers to those who are passionately in love with their object –of any kind– of desire. The main characters (Antigone, Creon, and Haemon) appear to have a different understanding of eros or eros has a different impact on each one of them. This power is presented mainly in the famous third stasimon; the “hymn to Eros”. For the rest of the play, eros lies behind the action and as a result, its influence and impact are not easily identifiable.

It has been claimed by scholars such as Winnington-Ingram that with the third stasimon the Chorus wrongfully ascribes to the power of eros the dispute between Creon and Haemon because their conflict is political and relies on Haemon’s morality. However, with this presentation, I aim to demonstrate that eros works as a fundamental element of this tragedy affecting the thinking of the heroes and being connected even with the dominant political reflections. The nature of this eros should be understood as a force that can be explained either as a deity, or as a psychic experience, or as a metaphor related to the irrational. As such, this force instigates the order of the play.

17:00-19:45 Free time

19:45-23:00 Departure for the ancient theater of Epidaurus. Watching the performance Antigone.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

09:00-10:15 Visit to the Archaeological Museum in Nafplion and tour of the exhibition

3rd Session, 10:30 – 13:00

In both Plato and Aristotle wonder (θαυμάζειν) is the characteristic mark of the true philosopher. It is described as a distressing mental affection (πάθος) involving perplexity (ἀπορεῖν), that has a positive result, nonetheless: it instigates thoughtful reflection on a theoretical issue and leads, ideally, to real knowledge. In the Hippocratic corpus, by contrast, wonder and perplexity are cast in a purely negative light: it is not the expert physician but the ignoramus and the charlatan who are said to be affected thereby. The paper will examine the most prominent ideas about wonder and perplexity that we find in Plato’s dialogues, Aristotle’s treatises, and the Hippocratic writings with a view to establishing a radical, though often ignored, difference between philosophy and medicine (or, more generally, science).

This paper presents the wandering womb syndrome, as this is described in the Hippocratic texts, vis-a-vis hysteria in fin de siècle Europe. It examines the sociocultural contexts that gave rise to these female maladies, as well as their medical diagnoses, and recommended and preferred treatments. Case studies of sufferers will be presented along with their courses of treatment. There will also be a discussion of the treating doctors’s intentions, foresights, and shortcomings.

The paper will show that there were several different categories of women sufferers. The doctors, however, failed to identify or acknowledge all the varying causes of these somatoform disorders. It was consequently often the case that numerous women sought solace and a cure from the divine as opposed to their contemporary practitioners. And some of these patients were actually cured by faith rather than by the usual courses of treatment. Finally, this paper will demonstrate that there was a distinct category of sufferers, whose restoration to health relied on their own efforts at emancipation from patriarchal norms.

Urban dance styles such as breakdance, popping, hip hop party dance, dancehall, waacking, voguing, etc. circulate transnationally among contemporary youth cultures under hip hop, street, and popular dance contexts. They contain Afro-diasporic and Latino-diasporic cultural qualities and their massive appropriation often relates to multicultural and cosmopolitan identities and lifestyles. Transnational urban dance cultures often constitute male-dominated, female-dominated, and/or queer-dominated zones. This lecture will navigate us through the performative possibilities of contemporary urban dance femininities in Greece and will foreground their resistant narratives with the purpose to deconstruct and problematize them. Additionally, the lecture will touch upon several other intercultural issues relating to the above central axis: the intersectional constitution of urban dance femininity, gendered dance embodiment, institutional dimensions of exclusion and inclusion, queering processes intertwined with the vulnerabilities and the empowerments of the dancers. Recent audiovisual material from the latest ethnographic documentary of the anthropologist will interlard the presentation.

The purpose of this presentation is the study of the narrative space in Idyll 24 of Theocritus. Specifically, a narrative study of the Idyll will be attempted, using modern narrative concepts, such as space, place, fabula-space, story-space, discourse-space, setting, and frame. Using the above-mentioned study as a base, there will be also an attempt of examining the function of 9 the narrative space of the Idyll in terms of the narrative structure and plot as well as the generic intentions of the poet. In particular, it will be proved, firstly, that the “space” functions as a structural element of division of the Idyll. In the first part of the Idyll, the action of Hercules is limited to the house (δόμος), while in the second part the action of Hercules extends to the sky (ἐς οὐρανὸν ἄστρα). Secondly, regarding the plot, the distinction of the two spaces (δόμος-οὐρανὸς) contributes to the sketching of a panorama of the life of Hercules, from his birth to his heroization. Finally, on a generic level, the "humble" urban space of the Theocritean narrative (story-space) contrasts with the "majestic" space of the mythical events (fabula-space), with which Hercules is strongly associated, revealing the intention of Theocritus to focus on the space of the house (δόμος) and to present it as the starting point of Hercules’s transition to the space of heaven (οὐρανὸς).

Philosophical reflections concerning the interface between humans and nature influenced literature, aesthetics, and the visual arts in the modern era. In the last decades, literary criticism showed a growing interest in revisiting Romanticism and other nineteenth-century currents through the prism of eco-criticism, but it was only recently that art history and theory incorporated the ‘ecological imperative’ in its investigation. Surrealism, in particular, has been recognized as a critical cultural practice that probed through various media the interaction between humans and non-humans, and radically negotiated the anthropocentric worldview. Premised upon the theoretical work of Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, and Timothy Norton, my current research focuses on the re-conceptualization and re-visualization of the concept of ‘nature’ in the work of Greek poet and critic Nanos Valaoritis and his wife, American painter Marie Wilson. Central to their work is the non-dualistic human encounter with the natural environment in which the boundaries between the self and non-humans are collapsed. My paper aims at sketching out the manifold ways ‘nature’ was re-visualized by Valaoritis and Wilson, further exploring their artistic dialogue in the period 1954-1967. These revisions would be located within contemporary surrealist critiques of colonialism, capitalism, positivism, and the perils of industrialization and presage the environmental movement of the 1970s.

13:00-13:30 Workshop completion