Thursday, 6 November 2014

The killing sand may return to the Colosseum

In July 2014, Professor Daniele Manacorda made the proposition that the floor should be returned to the world famous Flavian Amphitheatre.  The floor has been absent since its removal in the 19th century, when it was removed during excavations.  Since then, the Amphitheatre has been missing its floor (and sand) and the exposed innards of the hypogeum have been an iconic part for visitors to the attraction and experts.

This was all a very nice idea in principle, until last week when the Italian Minister for Culture, Dario Franceschini, reignited the debate by suggesting that it was one of the main ideas he was proposing for his scheme to boost tourism to Rome. 

The Flavian Amphitheatre was inextricably linked with gladiatorial combat, despite there also being beast hunts, executions, chariot races, animal hunt and reports that the arena was flooded for the infamous naumachia.  Gladiators have seen a resurgence in popular media in the past few decades with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000), and more recently with the television series Spartacus (2010). 

However, this news has not recieved unanimous approval.  Dr Salvatore Settis, a Professor of classical archaeology and former head of Italy's cultural heritage council, argues that whilst Italy is suffering from economic troubles and financial stringencies, the idea of refitting the floor to the Colosseum is ridiculous.  “We are living a dramatic moment for cultural patrimony. In this situation, I do not think that giving the Colosseum back its floor is a priority.”

If you are interested in reading more about the Flavian Amphitheatre or about gladiators, then we suggest the following from our catalogue: -

·         Gladiators : violence and spectacle in ancient Rome
Dunkle, Roger.
Harlow ; New York : Pearson/Longman, c2008.

Classmark: 152F DUN

·         The gladiators : history's most deadly sport
Meijer, Fik.
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, c2005.

Classmark: 152F Copy 2 MEI

·         The Colosseum
Hopkins, Keith, 1934-2004.
London : Profile Books, c2005.

Classmark: 113M HOP

·         Colosseum : Rome's arena of death
Connolly, Peter, 1935-2012.
London : BBC Books, c2003.

Classmark: 113M CON

·         The Colosseum
Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, c2001.

Classmark: X 113M COA

Monday, 3 November 2014

Electra returns to the Old Vic theatre with Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Sophocles’ play


Kristin Scott Thomas and director Ian Rickson reunite to bring Sophocles’ tragedy to The Old Vic in the round. Frank McGuinness delivers a charged adaptation of this classic tale of power and revenge.

Electra is bound by grief following the murder of her father Agamemnon, unwilling to forgive and consumed by a desire for revenge, her anger builds. On the return of her brother Orestes, Electra’s fury explodes without mercy, leading to a bloody and terrifying conclusion.

Interested in Electra or want to know more about Sophocles?  Then check out section 94.11E in the library next time you're in.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Amphipolis Tomb... Who Lies Within?

The great thing about a new discovery is that moments when all the experts around the world put their two-penny worth in and begin to make predictions regarding what the new discovery actually is.  This is precisely what is happening now with the Amphipolis (or Kasta) tomb. 

Sadly, looters seem to have taken the treasures that it once contained, but experts are convinced that much can still be learnt from what remains.  The Caryatid Marbles alone could be described as the find of the decade.

Suggestions of who the tomb once contained vary, but most theories centre on the followers of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great.  The rumour mills on twitter this morning has it firmly set as the final resting home of Alexander’s mother Olympia, whilst others have suggested Alexander's son by Roxana.

So who does this tomb belong to?  If you have any thoughts, let us know!  Answers on a postcard.  Or failing that, you can leave your ideas in the suggestion box below or email me at .

Friday, 19 September 2014

On the 19th September 86 A.D., the Emperor Antoninus Pius was born in Nemausus.  Born the son of Titus Aurelius Fulvus and later adopted by his predecessor Emperor Hadrian, Pius has been remembered for having a rather uneventful spell as emperor.  However, he did manage to enact extremely important legal reforms throughout the empire based on fairness and equality rather than the word of law.  Pius died in his seventy-fourth year.

If you are interested in reading about the Emperor, then we recommend you have a look at Cassius Dio’s, Roman History, Book 70 and the Historia Augusta, The Life of Antoninus Pius.

Happy Birthday Antoninus Pius!


Monday, 15 September 2014

The Furies - the Oxford Greek Play (2014)

Who would do right, fearing nothing?

Following Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, The Oxford Greek Play presents The Furies.

Orestes has murdered his own mother, Clytemnestra. In revenge, she has sent the Furies: terrifying infernal spirits who spread poison and madness across the earth. Their vengeance is simple: kill and be killed.

But things are changing. In Athens, a criminal court has been established to end this cycle of murder and Orestes is its first defendant.

Performed by University of Oxford students, The Oxford Greek Play is a rare opportunity to experience classical drama in its original language. Depicting the first murder trial ever held, AeschylusThe Furies challenges the core of our own legal system. Can guilt be judged? Can justice be wrong? Are victims still victims when the case is closed?

Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th October 2014.
Venue: Oxford Playhouse


The metamorphosis Project

An eclectic group of contemporary artists provide a fresh take on Ovid’s ancient tales.

Enter a world of lust, gruesome deaths and staggering transformations at this engaging art exhibition which is at the heart of an innovative project to improve accessibility to the classics.

Free entry 11am-6pm daily (except Friday close 8pm, Saturday 4:30pm)

This project is kindly funded by UCL Greek & Latin Department and The Classical Association.

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: FREE
Ticketing: Open

Monday, 8 September 2014

An Ancient Pottery Masterclass

Emeritus Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney, J Richard Green, gives a masterclass on Ancient Pottery at Paphos.

Prof.Green is also Research Fellow here at the Institute.  He is also working on the definitive publication of his excavations at the site of the theatre in Paphos, the ancient capital of Cyprus. His recent publications include a 300-page survey of recent work on ancient theatre production in Lustrum vol. 50 and a full catalogue of the Logie Collection of antiquities in the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.