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Homer and WWI Poetry – 28th July


My poster for my talk

12:15-12:45, Ancient Worlds Gallery, Leeds City Museum

In this talk Eleanor OKell will explore the connections between Homer’s Iliad and a number of World War I poems by classically educated and non-classically educated poets who were part of or responded to the Gallipolli campaign (1915-1916) on the plains of Homer’s ‘windy Troy’.

Connections revealed will range from quotation (both direct and indirect) to allusion and the talk will discuss ways of differentiating and interpreting these to determine not only the extent of Homer’s influence on modern war poets but also the possible influence of war in this location on Homer’s epic.

Poems referred to in the talk will include some by well known and some by lesser known, or indeed unknown, poets. For those who might wish to read the poems in advance (the texts and Homeric material will be provided), the poets and poems focused upon will be: Edward Shillito (A New Iliad), A. P. Herbert (The Bathe), Patrick Shaw Stewart (Achilles in the Trench), an anonymous poem (The Dardanelles) printed by permission of M. Parkinson in These were Men: Poems of the War 1914-18, Seigfried Sassoon (Remorse) and Wilfred Owen (Dulce et decorum est).

Mother of Dragons: The Displaced Princess in Greek Tragedy & Game of Thrones – June 30th

Poster with Daenerys Targaryen and Medea

My poster for Maria’s talk.

Maria Haley draws comparisons between Daenerys Targaryen and Medea, both princesses who not only use magic and leave the lands of their birth in order to follow their chosen menfolk but also command dragons.

12:15-12:45 30th June 2016

Ancient Worlds Gallery

Leeds City Museum

The Decline of Magic in Late Antiquity – Thursday 26th May

Ancient Worlds Gallery, Leeds City Museum



My poster for Leonardo’s talk

Leonardo Costantini will briefly outline the semantic complexity of magic in the first and second century AD, explaining that the Greek magos and the Latin magus could indicate both ‘a priest of the Persians’ and ‘an evil practitioner of sorcery’, before considering how the latter connotation became predominant from the third century onwards, due to the anti-pagan polemics of the Christians.

A forgotten history: the University of Leeds’ ancient Cypriot collection: 12.15-12.45 Thursday 28th April


My poster for Anna’s talk.

This month’s talk in the Ancient Worlds Gallery of Leeds City Museum will be by Anna Reeve (PhD student at the University of Leeds).

In 1913, Eliza Bodington, widow of the University of Leeds’ first Vice-Chancellor, came across a packing-case which had been lying forgotten in the University’s cellars for many years. When opened, it was found to contain objects of pottery, bronze and glass from the ancient civilisations of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the talk Anna will follow the clues which reveal the collection’s origins and how it came to Leeds, and present the intriguing objects which still survive in the collection today.

Ancient and Modern Rowing – 12:15-12:45 24th March 2016


My poster for Henry’s talk.

In this talk, Henry Clarke, both Classicist at the University of Leeds and rowing coach at Leeds Rowing Club, combines his two passions to explore the links between rowing in the ancient and modern worlds. For the ancient world powers in Egypt, Greece and Rome, rowing was a fundamental means of transportation and warfare. The Trireme in particular required a high degree of skill and precision to ensure over 150 rowers would respond to orders instantly and as one body. Although the sporting aspect of rowing has been attributed to 17th Century England, frequent training exercises and racing competitions were considered essential for guaranteeing an effective crew by the Roman navy. The same goes for today’s competitive rowing clubs.

Days before the 2016 Boat Race is due to take place on the River Thames in London, Henry will trace the history of rowing from the boat race in Virgil’s Aeneid to the modern annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge University. The talk will explore the differences between the sport of rowing in the ancient and modern worlds; the crafts used to compete, from galleys and triremes to the latest racing shell; and the technological innovations introduced along the way.

Venue: Ancient Worlds Gallery, Leeds City Museum

NB The date (a week earlier than normal: Thursday 31st March is the last Thursday of the month) is correct.


Neil Gaiman’s Classic Dream: 25th February

Talk Poster

My poster for my talk

This talk focuses on the character Dream of the Endless, as configured by Neil Gaiman for the award winning graphic novel series Sandman. Tracing the character’s origins from previous comic incarnations of the Sandman the talk will focus on how aspects of the classical Greek god Hypnos (Sleep) and his sons the Oneiroi (Morpheus, Phobetor and Pantasos) underpin the portrayal and how Gaiman’s classical references (including Virgil and Ovid) assist to fix Dream within a complex new but timeless mythological world.

Talk by: Eleanor OKell


Leeds City Museum

Ancient Worlds Gallery


Thursday 25th February

What is Democracy? 28th January 2016

Poster for talk

My poster for David’s talk

David Royle addresses the question of “What is democracy?” by focusing on the lessons that can be learned from the development of democracy in fifth-century BC Athens.

Looking at the development of democracy will enable us to define and explore democracy today and consider how it may develop in the future.

Leeds City Museum, Ancient Worlds Gallery, 12:15-12:45

All welcome.

Upcoming lunchtime talks

All talks take place on the last Thursday of the month on the Ancient Worlds Gallery of Leeds City Museum from 12:15-12:45.

Upcoming talks include the following:


26th November, Ben Greet,

Emperors and Gladiators in Django Unchained

28th January, David Royle,

“What is democracy?   – Lessons from Classical Athens”

25th February, tbc

24th March, Henry Clarke,

“Ancient and Modern Rowing”

28th April, tbc

26th May, Leonardo Constantini,

“The Decline of Magic in Late Antiquity”

30th June, Maria Haley,   “Mother of Dragons: the Displaced Princess in Greek tragedy and Game of Thrones”

Emperors and Gladiators in Django Unchained – 12:15-12:45 Thursday 26th November

My Poster for Ben's talk

My Poster for Ben’s talk

Ben Greet explores the classical influences in Quentin Tarrantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained, both those acknowledged by the director and those raised by interviewers and critics who have wondered whether he was attempting to create “an American Roman Empire” in this film.

Tarrantino has notably praised Leonardo di Caprio for turning his conception of Calvin Candie – the slave-owning plantation owner who forces slaves into fights to the the death – as a “petulant boy emperor” into a “charming” “Southern-fried Caligula”.

In pursuing this question Ben’s exploration will start with Roman emperors and broaden out from their personal activities into the areas of imperial administration and entertainment.

Leeds City Museum

Ancient Worlds Gallery

New Website Address

Classics Talks is upgrading, with immediate effect, to an address that does not include the word wordpress, although that is where the site will still be hosted. The new address should be and if you are already on the email list, this should be copied over and you should still receive updates.

The upgrade will allow me to complete the upload of backlogged talks and to include images, so there will be quite a few updates in the next few weeks. Many thanks for bearing with me in the meantime.

See you on the new address shortly.


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