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Leventis Lectures Series and Celebratory Event

The Leventis Lectures event 2017 will showcase the research currently being undertaken at the University of Exeter into the impact of Greek culture upon our modern world. Come along to this evening of research, culture, drinks and networking.

Thucydides: A Text for Our Times? Professor Neville Morley

The claim of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides that his work would be “a possession for all time”, and would help his readers make sense of their own situation through the past events he described, continues to be vindicated. Indeed, Thucydides is now more widely discussed and cited than ever before, in many different contexts: global politics and strategy, the crisis of the European Union, the Brexit referendum and the election of President Trump. This lecture will look at three important passages from his work, and the ways in which they have been understood in relation to current events: his ideas on the causes of war, the civil war at Corcyra, and the Melian Dialogue. Many modern readings are simplistic, treating Thucydides as if he was a contemporary political scientist and ignoring the complexities of his work; but if we read him carefully, he can indeed help us make sense of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Extra-terrestrial perspectives from Moon-view to Pale Blue Dot: ancient imagination meets modern science. Professor Karen Ni Mheallaigh

In this presentation Professor Karen Ni Mheallaigh will explore ancient speculation about what the Earth looked like when viewed from outer space. This powerful ancient tradition, which crosses the boundaries between ancient philosophy and comic fantasy, lurks beneath the most stunning photographic images of our planet to emerge from the modern space age when the ancient imagination became reality for the first time in human history.

This lecture examines Greek fantasies of how the Earth would look from outer space in texts such as Plato’s Phaedrus (5th century BC) and Lucian’s Icaromenippus and True Stories (2nd century AD). Of particular interest are the philosophical theories in which such extra-terrestrial perspectives are embedded, and the ideas towards which these such imaginary remote views of our Earth prompt the reader. When mapped against modern photographic images, including Earthrise (1968), Blue Marble (1972) and Pale Blue Dot (1990), we find fascinating – and challenging – dialogues between the ancient thought-world and our own.