The Politics of Persuasion, with Kathryn Tempest

Cicero cover

In the last interview recorded at the University of Roehampton CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks to Dr Kathryn Tempest about her work on ancient rhetoric. Kathryn talks about her fascination with ancient oratory, and in particular the forensic speeches of Cicero. Her interest arose organically out of her previous work on the Attic orators, which then got her thinking about their impact on the work of the Roman politician. Her book Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome was published in 2011 (reissued as a paperback in 2013).

Kathryn tells us how her work on the Roman orator led her back to Hellenistic oratory. She talks about the debt that Roman orators, like Cicero, owe to this now largely neglected era in the evolution of ancient rhetoric. Different types of oratory were used in different periods, but the art of rhetoric continued to flourish and evolve in response to contemporary circumstances and specific needs. If you would like to learn more, you might be interested in the collection that Kathryn co-edited with Christos Kremmydas entitled Hellenistic Oratory: Continuity and Change (Oxford University Press: 2013).

Kathryn is currently working on a book about Marcus Brutus, Caesar’s friend who was involved in the plot to kill him. She tells us about the challenges involved in dealing with the historical evidence that survives about this famous Roman, who was viewed both as a hero and an anti-hero.

Follow this link to watch our interview, and to learn more about the art of persuasion and its classical roots.

You might also be interested in an earlier CC interview with Professor Mike Edwards, which also explored the power of ancient rhetoric.

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The Imagines Project, with Marta García Morcillo

cover of seduction and power

The fourth interview recorded at the University of Roehampton was filmed in the beautiful gardens surrounding Grove House. CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Dr Marta García Morcillo about the Imagines Project ( Marta tells us about her work for this international network dedicated to the promotion of classical antiquity in the visual and performing arts.

Marta talks about the network’s conferences, organised every two to three years. The Imagines Project’s work is showcased in a collection that Marta co-edited together with Silke Knippschild entitled Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the Visual and Performing Arts (2013). The inspiration for this edited collection came from the network’s 2010 conference that explored this theme.

Marta also tells us about the network’s forthcoming conference Sailing in Troubled Waters: The Ancient Mediterranean and its Legacy in the Performing and Visual Arts. The fourth Imagines conference will be held at the University of Algarve, Faro (1-4 October). Marta talks to us about the network’s commitment to working with artists. In Faro this will take the form of a special mural produced as a means of exploring the conference theme in art.

Follow this link to watch our interview, to learn more about the Imagines Project and to hear our discussion of why classics matters today.

The Imagines Project on Twitter: @ImaginesProject

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Classical Ladies in the Garden, with Rosemary Barrow

Statue of Spring

Statue of Spring, University of Roehampton

Outside once more, the location of the third interview recorded at the University of Roehampton is the back of Grove House overlooking the grounds of Froebel College. CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Dr Rosemary Barrow about four classicising statues that preside over the gardens of this neoclassical house. They are personifications of the Four Seasons and add another ‘classical’ touch to the decorative scheme of Grove House.

Rosemary focuses on the semi-nude ‘Autumn’ and the tantalisingly covered ‘Winter’ and talks about the popularity of such representations in the nineteenth century. She tells us how the female nude came to be so closely associated with classical antiquity in this period and how this trend is reflected in the Grove House statues.

Follow this link to watch our interview, and to explore the depth of the nineteenth-century’s engagement with the ‘classical’, which extended even to garden ornaments.

You might also be interested in Rosemary’s YouTube video in which she talks about ‘Summer’.

Note: The book that Rosemary refers to in the interview is The Classical Tradition: Art, Literature, Thought co-authored with Michael Silk and Ingo Gildenhard (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2014)

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Hercules transplanted to a Georgian house, with Susan Deacy

Roehampton Hercules

Moving the conversation indoors, the second interview recorded at the University of Roehampton was shot in the Adam Room located inside Grove House. CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Dr Susan Deacy in front of a chimney-piece featuring the ‘Choice of Hercules’. Susan tells us how she came to be interested in this representation of the classical mythical hero and what it reveals about his reception in eighteenth-century English culture.

Susan explains how Hercules’ choice between a life of pleasure and one devoted to virtue was understood in this period and how this is reflected in its portrayal on the panel in Grove House. Susan’s work on this topic is part of the larger Hercules Project, based at the University of Leeds, whose aim is to explore the long and rich reception history of Hercules. Susan also discusses the continuing appeal of mythological figures such as Hercules and Athena and how they have transformed the environment we live in.

Follow this link to watch our interview to learn more about this fascinating chimney panel featuring Hercules, and how this interactive piece of neoclassical art invites the viewer to re-enact the mythical hero’s choice.

To learn more about Susan’s work on the Hercules panel follow her blog:

The photos of the chimney-piece are reproduced by kind permission of Marina Vorobieva. For more information see:

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The Roehampton Campus as a Learning Resource, with Sonya Nevin

Roehampton campusCC’s Anastasia Bakogianni welcomes back Dr Sonya Nevin to talk to us about the Higher Education Academy funded project that she is managing on behalf of the Department of Humanities at the University of Roehampton. The Department was awarded a Teaching Development Grant for ‘Using the University Campus as a Learning Resource in the Humanities’. The outcome is a new module whose aim is to teach vocational skills through the study of the Humanities. The module uses the history and environs of the University of Roehampton itself as a teaching tool. Students taking the module will be encouraged to draw on these resources to create their own research projects and to involve the local community.

The impact of classics on our environment is particularly strongly felt on the grounds of the University of Roehampton campus which boasts a number of neoclassical buildings and features. Sonya tells us about Grove House and the Roman matron who is buried on campus.  Follow this link to watch our interview, and learn how she mistakenly ended up in Britain!

This interview was shot on location at Froebel College, University of Roehampton

For Dr Sonya Nevin’s previous interview for CC see:

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Classical Forms in New York Architecture, with Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Washington Arch NYCCC’s Anastasia Bakogianni met with Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis on location in The Graduate Center at City University of New York to talk about the impact of  Greek and Roman models on the architecture of New York City. In the city famous for its skyscrapers there are a number of buildings, arches, columns and other monuments that display the influence of classical culture.

Elizabeth tells us about her recent work on the Washington Arch located in Washington Square Park and explains the reasons why a Roman model was chosen to mark the celebrations for the one-hundredth anniversary of the inauguration of the United States’ first President, George Washington (30 April 1789). The arch, the first Roman-style arch in the United States began life as a temporary edifice, but such was its popularity that it was made permanent thus enshrining the relationship that the new Republic wanted to forge with the Roman Republic of old. New York City also embraced another Roman institution that of the military procession and adapted it to its own needs to celebrate not only military achievement, but also sporting victories.

Other New York landmarks such as the Stock Exchange and a number of banks borrowed their style from ancient temples because they were seen to embody desirable qualities such as strength, stability and tradition. Elizabeth also reveals that some New York buildings such as the Bankers’ Trust Building might appear modern, but are actually a combination of ancient and modern elements. American architects appear to have conceptualised their city of skyscrapers within ancient frameworks.

Follow this link to watch our interview!



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Aristophanes in Plutarch’s Shadow, with Wilson Shearin

In the second interview recorded at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in New York City (20-23 March 2014) CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Will Shearin of the University of Miami about the reception of the comic playwright Aristophanes during the Second Sophistic period.

Will argues that reception begins in antiquity. It is a methodological approach that helps us to destabilise a simple, singular model of the classics. His case study is Plutarch’s reception of Aristophanes. It is a significant point in the history of the reception of the master of Old Comedy. Will talks to us about the long shadow that Plutarch’s criticism has cast over the reception of Aristophanes. For many teachers of ancient Greek, both ancient and modern, the comedian is a pedagogical tool for teaching Attic Greek. Plutarch, however, criticised Aristophanes for his chaotic language because it did not fit in with his educational and philosophical approach to life. Aristophanes’ reality was not to Plutarch’s taste.

Dynamic ReadingThis case study of one ancient author’s negative reception of an older master demonstrates how classical texts can fall out of favour, sometimes for reasons other than those later generations objected to. Will mentions his work on the reception of another controversial classical figure, Epicurus. Together with Brooke Holmes he co-edited Dynamic Reading: Studies in the Reception of Epicureanism (Classical Presences Series, OUP: 2012).

Will’s work on Plutarch’s reception of Aristophanes will be published as chapter in Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Aristophanes (forthcoming in 2016) edited by Philip Walsh.


For Wallace Stevens’ poem ‘The Man with the Blue Guitar’ (1936) alluded to in this interview, see:

Follow this link to watch our interview!

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