This past Friday Ludovico Pontiggia and Leah Lazar gave the final GIS presentations of the term. Ludovico began the session with a presentation about the death and burial of Pompey in Lucan’s Bellum Civile. Drawing on Horace Odes 3.30 as a model for a metapoetic interpretation of the closure of Bellum Civile 8, Ludovico argued that the end of Bellum Civile 8 not only transforms Pompey into an ideological symbol of anti-imperial resistance but also Lucan’s poetry into ‘Pompeian,’ anti-Caesarian poetry. This ‘sphragis’ at the end of Book 8 explains its unusual end which has previously perplexed scholars. Ludovico also explored the relationship between the abstraction of the civil war into a conflict between the ideals of tyranny and freedom and the presence or absence of Pompey and explained that this transformation does not coincide with Pompey’s removal from the poem. His analysis sparked a discussion about post-Republican depictions of the end of the Republic, especially in respect to figures whom writers such as Lucan or Tacitus portray as being pro-Republican.
Our next speaker was Leah Lazar, who was visiting us from Oxford. Leah’s talk focussed on the relationships between Athens and the cities in its fifth-century ‘empire’ with a particular interest in how these interactions are reflected on the surviving tribute lists. Leah opened her presentation with a brief overview of the ways in which fifth-century Athenian expansion does and does not fit the model of empire which has been drawn up by modern scholarship, concluding that the negotiation between centre and periphery could potentially be one of the more imperial qualities of Athenian rule. She then proceeded with an examination of the categories inscribed on surviving tribute lists, arguing that the very recording of cities in different categories on public documents like the tribute lists indicates that Athens might have allowed for negotiation in respect to tribute. When looking at the individual categories themselves, Leah presented a short review of current scholarly opinion, adding her own modifications and suggestions, including the very interesting possibility that cities’ negotiations with Athens might have been influenced by the negotiations of other, nearby cities.