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Inaugural Lecture — Plutarch and Greco-Roman Biculturalism

MEDIA RELEASE

13 March 2012

Inaugural Lecture—Being Greek under Rome: Plutarch and Greco-Roman Biculturalism

Classics Professor Jeff Tatum will deliver his inaugural lecture about being Greek under the Roman Empire on Tuesday 20 March.

By studying the career of Plutarch, the most important Greek writer of imperial Rome, Professor Tatum will explore questions around how Greek and Roman cultures co-existed, “an issue that is relevant for any multicultural society,” Professor Tatum says.

Professor Tatum explains that Plutarch’s masterpiece, Parallel Lives of Eminent Greeks and Romans is perhaps the most influential of all ancient biographies and a model for modern notions of life writing.

“It is also a crucial window to the classical past, for historians and artists alike, inspiring, for instance, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra.”

Plutarch’s career and his writings raise questions about what it meant to be Greek in Greco-Roman society, says Professor Tatum.

“It is unclear whether the term Greco-Roman implies a unification of two cultures, harmonious biculturalism or something in the way of unavoidable antagonism brought about by one culture’s political domination of the other.”
Roman culture was always, in varying degrees, Greco-Roman, but the right balance was always uncertain—Greek culture defined but could also threaten Roman identity.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Victoria’s Inaugural Lecture series is an opportunity for professors to provide the wider community with an insight into their specialist area of study.

“It is also an opportunity for the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors,” says Professor Walsh.

Professor Tatum is a historian and critic who specialises in the literature and history of the late Roman Republic and early Empire. He joined Victoria University as Professor of Classics in 2010.
Inaugural Lecture—Professor Jeff Tatum, Being Greek under Rome: Plutarch and Greco-Roman Biculturalism
When: 6pm, Tuesday 20 March
Where: Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Gate 1 or 2, Kelburn Parade, Wellington

To secure a seat, please email rsvp@vuw.ac.nz with ‘Tatum’ in the subject line by this Friday 16 March 2012.

ENDS

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