CYA Lecture Series: Richard Seaford

We are pleased to invite you to the lecture ‘Ancient Greece and the Perils of the Twenty-first Century: the Importance of Limit’ by Richard Seaford, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter. Response by Spyridon Rangos, Professor of Ancient Literature, Department of Philology, University of Patras. This public lecture will take place on Tuesday 24 September at 7.30 p.m. (Daphne & Hatsopoulos Hall, 5 Plateia Stadiou, Kallimarmaro). A reception will follow.

Professor Seaford on his lecture:

This lecture draws on my recent research in order to suggest a way in which ancient Greece can be an inspiration for us in confronting the disintegrative tendencies of the twenty-first century. I start by comparing the relief sculptures of the Assyrians with those of the Greeks, equally beautiful but very different in spirit. What emerges is the distinctiveness of two Greek ideas: firstly of conflict as either harmonious or rule-bound, and secondly of the individual person as autonomous. Both harmony and rules constitute limitation of the autonomous individual, be it in musical or athletic competitions, commerce, or warfare. The importance of limit is central to various spheres of Greek culture: aesthetics, economics, cosmology, ethics, and politics. Modern societies are generally rule-bound, but increasing vulnerable to the social, environmental, and psychological destructiveness of the creed of unlimited acquisitive individualism, by which the ancient Greeks would be horrified. For them limit and self-limitation were not bleakly negative but rather might belong to a compelling vision that was aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual.
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Written by Tina Voulgari