Antiquity and the Anthropocene

In the last two decades the current, unprecedented environmental crisis has led many scholars to rethink radically the anthropocentric model of political entities centred on the interactions between ideology, politics, economics and the military. Instead, the focal role played by nature and the environment in shaping social and political power is becoming increasingly recognised. At the same time scientific validation of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch that is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene (11,700 BCE–present day), dramatically confirms the overwhelming and irreversible influence that human activities have on our planet and shows how we humans are a force of nature ourselves. The start-date of this new epoch is highly debatable (was it the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution? The Industrial Revolution?) and has strong political implications (e.g. a very early date can be used to normalise environmental change). Building on this environment-human interdependency debate, this workshop encourages scholars and artists to re-examining ancient perceptions of nature, power, and power over nature to help us better understand our present situation. By offering a lively and challenging setting for discussion to international scholars and artists, the workshop will foster new approaches to explain the relationship between human societies and their natural environments, providing a novel interpretative framework for current and past environmental crises. We aim to start a conversation that will produce an interdisciplinary response to the most important issue of our time.

New podcast series: 'The Sustainable Past'

What can we learn from the ancient Roman and Greeks to help with environmental sustainability issues today? Patricia Baker and Giacomo Savani will explore possible answers to this question in a new podcast series with leading scholars who will address the environmental concerns which are of critical importance for ourselves, future generations, and all life on our delicate planet. Each speaker will be invited to explain their subject and personal view of what we can learn from the past to help make the world more sustainable for the future.

In this series, every Tuesday from 8 June to 13 July, six scholars will highlight some of the cutting-edge research and activities that are being undertaken in classical studies.



26th February 2021/WORKSHOP PROGRAMMME

13.00–13.05 (UK time) Welcome and opening remarks

13.05–13.30 Matthew Mandich (ISAR) and Giacomo Savani (UCD):

Antiquity and the Anthropocene: An Introduction

13.30–15.15 Session 1: Greek Nature. Chair: Chiara Blanco (Oxford)

13.30–14.00 Micheál Geoghegan (NUI Galway):

Zeus the Tamer: Male Social Power and the Conquest of Nature in Hesiod’s Theogony

14.00–14.30 Richard Hutchins (Miami):

A Way of Seeing: Technicity in Prometheus Bound

14.30–14.45 Break

14.45–15.15 Enrico Postiglione (Modena and Reggio Emilia):

Aristotle on Techne: Reconsidering the Nature-Technology Divide in light of Western Demonology

15.15–15.30 Conversations with the Artist 1: John O'Reilly

15.30–16.30 Session 2: Of Beasts and Men. Chair:

15.30–16.00 Dimitrios Papadopoulos (Patras):

Wonder, Knowledge and Ignorance: Animal Nature and Empire in Pliny the Elder and Aelian

16.00–16.30 Konstanze Schiemann (Amsterdam):

Animals out of Place: Organising and Criticising Animal Hunts in Late Antiquity

16.30–16.45 Conversations with the Artist 2: Marti Cormand (Artist)

16.45–17.00 Break

17.00–18.30 Session 3: Textual Nature. Chair: Jason König (St Andrews)

17.00–17.30 Thomas Munro (Yale):

Tellus imbuta: An Ecocritical Reading of Catullus 64

17.30–17.45 Conversations with the Artist 3: Patty Baker (Virgina Tech; Artist)

Roman Floral Design: The Embodiment of Environmental Ephemerality

17.45–18.00 Break

18.00–18.30 Treasa Bell (Yale):

Puellae in an Anthropocentric World

18.30–19.45 Session 4: Environment and Collapse. Chair: Mandich & Savani

18.30–19.00 Gil Gambash (Haifa):

The Collapse of the Late-Antique Negev Society: Environmental Aspects

19.00–19.50 Kyle Harper (Oklahoma):

Keynote address: Microbes ad the Ancient Anthropocene

19.50–20.00 Closing Remarks