Saturday, 5 November 2016

Classical thinking in Heffers

Heffers Classics Forum, Cambridge. October 2016.

Last year there was no Classics Forum and I have to say I missed it, the chance to sit and listen to some of the finest Classics scholars talking about either their latest research or their newest book is always stimulating.

This year we were at a more central venue with good tea/coffee on tap and in a room where the acoustics were good and the temperature just right - even with the Zumba class above us at one point!

Like previous years the format was nice and simple, 4 sessions each with three speakers who spoke on their topics for roughly 20 minutes. This set up is ideal because if the topic doesn't interest you then there it will only last a few minutes - I hasten to add that this year all of the topics appealed and I could have listened to most of the speakers for a lot longer than their allotted times.

Highlights for me included the talk from Tim Whitmarsh on atheism in the Ancient World and Gideon Nisbet's Confessions of a Translator.  I also greatly enjoyed Jerry Toner's talk all about how to Release Your Inner Roman - I'm so pleased to see that Marcus Sidonius Falx is still sharing his guide to how to live and prosper in Ancient Rome.

The balloon debate just after lunch was also great - 5 academics presented a case for why they thought that 'their' classical work should be preserved over the others - the idea being that they are all in a balloon that is crashing and all are tossed over board and lost forever to ensure the balloon keeps flying.  Julius Ceasar's Gallic Wars, Sophocles' Antigone, Martial's Epigrams, Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Sophocles' Philoctetes went head to head but this time Edith Hall's persuasive arguments for Antigone won the day. My vote went for Martial - if only one book is going to survive then I want it to be funny!

I've come home with a stack of new books and lots of thoughts running around my head - a great day.

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