Classical Association Lecture

On Thursday 29th September, a band of Classics students trooped down to Dean Close for a talk on 'Art and Politics in 5th Century Athens'. The speaker was to be Amy C Smith, a Yale and Dartmouth graduate, and now a Professor at Reading University, with a special interest in iconography, politics and religion.

Her lecture was broken down into three sections. The first focused on portraiture, and the influence that political events had on the subjects. One example was the statue of the Tyrannicides, (Harmodius and Aristogeiton, killers of the tyrant Hippias’ brother), a symbol of Athenian democracy, which stood as a reminder in the forum. Secondly, Professor Smith spoke of what she called, "cartoons" - though translated into the classical world this mostly meant vase paintings – making a connection between the artistic representation of mythology and politics. In particular, she commented on the Athenian dislike for tyrants as represented by the depiction of the assassinations of tyrants from Greek myth. The final section dealt with politics’ influence on architecture, demonstrated by the Parthenon, on which the inclusion of the Amazons may have hinted at Athens’ recent triumph over the Persians at the battle of Marathon.

The lecture helped to broaden our knowledge of the ancient world and set our studies within a wider context.

Catherine Ogilvy SFC1