This week we had two excellent presentations, one in literature and one in philosophy.
Our first speaker was Graham Andrews who is now in the third year of a PhD. He talked about “Wizards and Sorcerors: Governing Rome (in Cassius Dio)”. “Do not trust this man – for he is a wizard and a sorceror.” So Cassius Dio has the ex-consul Calenus open up an invective against Cicero in book 46 of his Roman History. The same label is applied some 30 books and 250 years later to two of the emperor Caracalla’s favourites. Graham suggested that the general response had been to consider this one of Dio’s preferred insult, but his talk instead used it as a starting point to explore what connected Cicero and Caracalla in his narrative. Graham argued that despite their very different political contexts, Dio used a number of similar themes to attack both men for their corrupt actions in governing Rome.
In the second section, Salla Raunio coming from B caucus gave a talk about “The Concept of Physis in the Timaeus”. The most common conception of Plato’s ontology is the so-called two-world-model, namely the chasm between the immutable world of ideas and the flux of the world of perception or the world of becoming. In the Timaeus, the cosmos which is the world of becoming is considered an image of its eternal paradigm. In the talk, Salla showed how the image-ontology of the Timaeus questioned the ingrained dualistic ontological model. She elaborated the concept of physis which, she argued, was an expression of the image structure of the cosmos. She discussed how the physis was neither the paradigm nor the material but that in which these two aspects of the demiurgic creation had come together: it was the cosmos as a constituted and completed whole.