Greek Gods and the Archaic Aesthetics of Life

5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Boston University School of Law Barristers Hall 765 Commonwealth Avenue, First Floor
Contact Name:
Lynn Niizawa
The BU Institute for Philosophy and Religion's 2011-13 Lecture Series: “Greek Gods and the Archaic Aesthetics of Life,” Stephen Halliwell (University of St. Andrews) This lecture will extend the horizon of the lecture series “Beyond Aesthetics” backwards in time by considering how certain problems about the nature and boundaries of aesthetics have an ancestry which starts in the culture of archaic Greece. That culture arguably shaped one form of aesthetics by imagining a special role for the Muses within the community of the gods. But since the Muses are also symbols of the values of a human song-culture, their function is ambiguously placed between divine and human needs: how could the arts of the Muses matter in the same way to gods and humans? The lecture will attempt to make sense of the mythological symbolism of the Muses, together with related aspects of an archaic Greek sensibility, from a perspective in which the possibility of aesthetics is inseparable from reflections on life-values in general. Stephen Halliwell is Professor of Greek and Head of the School of Classics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. His books include The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems and Greek Laughter: a Study of Cultural Psychology from Homer to Early Christianity, both of which won international prizes. His most recent book is Between Ecstasy and Truth: Interpretations of Greek Poetics from Homer to Longinus. Prof. Halliwell will also give a seminar the following day, co-hosted by the Myth and Religion seminar and the Classics Department, on textual passages discussed in the lecture. It will be held Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5:30 pm at BU (745 Commonwealth Ave., Rm 625).