Syracuse as Spectacle: Images of Victory and Catastrophe in Ancient Sicily
The Greek colonies in Sicily rapidly rivaled the famous cities of the mainland in wealth and power. This lecture begins by tracing the multi-faceted visual language through which the tyrants of Syracuse established their claims to prestige and significance during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE, including architecture, ritual, spectacle, and coinage. We will then contrast the impression such displays made on the visitor with the famous scene in Thucydides’ History describing the decisive defeat of Athens in the Syracusan harbor in 415 BCE, which he described through the perspective of onlookers from the shore. The vividness of this technique makes it possible for the reader both to share to an exceptional degree the Athenians’ growing recognition of their defeat and to understand how it responds to the distinctively Syracusan visual environment
ABOUT STUDY LEADER Professor of Classics, Andrew Feldherr '85, works on Latin Literature, with a particular interest in historiography and the poetry of the Augustan period. His first book, Spectacle and Society in Livy's History argued that Livy's manipulation of viewers' perspectives in his representation of the Roman past tapped into the political and religious power of spectacle in contemporary Roman. Playing Gods: Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Politics of Fiction examined the role of fictionality in the poem in light of other cultural discourses, especially in the visual arts. Feldherr is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians. On this journey, Feldherr will help travelers uncover the impact of the Roman Empire on each site visited.