A tribute to Greek poet tribute to Titos Patrikios

A very moving tribute to Titos Patrikios, one of the greatest living Greek poets, was organized by the Greek library of London, the Hellenic Hub and the Poetry Office at the Hellenic Centre in London on the occasion of his 90th birthday. A full house of well above two hundred people, Greek and British, enjoyed a great evening forworded by the emeritus Korais professor Roderick Beaton and his former colleague Professor David Ricks, both distinguished Hellenists from King’s College London. A very rare audiovisual show of Patrikios’ early years was also projected. There were of course readings of Patrikios’ poems from different periods of all his long prolific lifetime, beautifully enacted by former ambassador of Great Britain in Greece Jonn Kittmer, our own Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps, Modern Greek fellow and actress, and Greek actor author Konstantinos Alsinos. All the readings were interspersed with beautiful original piano compositions by the Italian pianist Anthimo. Finally, the Poetry Office’s head and author, Mr Skiathas, conducted a lively interview of the poet himself followed by an extremely stimulating live audience interaction with the poet. 










Dr Tzanidaki-Kreps performing the work of Titos Patrikios













Claiming the Classical – link

Readers may be interested in the latest CUCD Bulletin, which contains a jointly prepared piece to which our own Barbara Goff contributed: you can find the piece here.  The article considers the continued appropriation, and misappropriation, of Classical themes in political discourse, which is one of Barbara’s research specialisms.

Women and Classics at University College Reading

(By Dr Amara Thornton, Ure Museum Research Officer)

It’s Women’s History Month in the UK, so it seems the right time to draw attention to one of the best overview resources for late 19th and early 20th century women’s history I know: The Englishwoman’s Yearbook and Directory.  The EWYB (for short) was a reference manual outlining educational and employment opportunities open to women. Also known as the “Woman’s Whitaker” (after the well-known annual Whitaker’s Almanack), it was published annually by Adam & Charles Black between the early 1880s and 1916.

The EWYB offered women who spent 2s 6d on a copy (or borrowed one) an overview of their prospects for improving their situation in life.  The volumes began with sections on education and list the universities and university colleges offering classes that were open to women, along with information on fees, courses, staff, and accommodation.  One of these institutions was University College Reading. 


Englishwoman’s Year-Book. Photo: Amara Thornton


University of Reading came out of the University Extension Movement, a new route for extra-university adult education in the late 19th century.  The first University Extension lectures in Reading, a series on the Napoleonic Wars, were delivered in 1885.  A newspaper report at the time noted that the series attracted nearly 80 women and “a few gentlemen”.

Moving forward to 1892, the extension lectures begun at Reading the previous decade had evolved into “The University Extension College at Reading” as it was listed in the “Universities” section of the Englishwoman’s Year Book.  From 1902 it was University College Reading, and offered women the opportunity to take degree examinations with the University of London.

Although classics was taught at University College Reading before 1911, in that year a Chair in Classics was established and Percy Ure was appointed the first Professor.  And women came to Reading to give formal lectures: in January 1911 archaeologist Evelyn Radford lectured to the Classics department on the sites of ancient Greek games. 

Over the next decade the number of women reported as working in the Classics Department increased.  

Annie Dunman Hunt, who had studied classics at Reading and obtained with a 2nd class honours degree in 1914, returned to the College in 1916 on a scholarship. Her postgraduate project focused on ancient Greek sites in Ukraine (then called “South Russia”), so she spent her time reading reports from the Russian Archaeological Commission – in Russian.


Fig: Annie Hunt, c. 1914.  Annie was a member of
University College Reading
women’s rowing team.
Photo: Courtesy of Bonnie Ure.


Other women students working on Classics-based projects were recorded too.  The College had for several years been amassing a collection of antiquities.  Two different collections of Roman coins – one from Stanford-in-the-Vale and one from Abingdon – were acquired during the war.  Two women, Ethel Scruton and Eileen Craig McGlinchy, were responsible for the initial collection catalogues.

By autumn of 1917, conscription continued to strip the College of available men lecturers.  The Classics Department’s Research Fellow in Roman Archaeology, Donald Atkinson, was called up.  To replace him, two women were hired: Annie Hunt and Katherine McCutcheon, who had been lecturing in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, one of Oxford’s women’s colleges.

As war drew to a close in 1918, Atkinson resigned to take up a position at the University of Manchester. His post was filled by two classicists – Eric Robertson Dodds and Margaret Leigh, who had completed her studies at Somerville College, Oxford.  Margaret Leigh was Dorothy Leigh Sayers‘ first cousin, just one year younger than Sayers. They were at Somerville at the same time, and they both contributed to a volume of poetry (co-edited by Sayers) Oxford Poetry, 1918. Leigh’s poem “The Journalist”, a searing criticism of the press’s wartime role, was praised in a 1919 issue of The Bookman. (The reviewer was none other than poet and critic Arthur Waugh, father of Evelyn.)

That year, Leigh achieved what she called her “heart’s desire” – the lectureship at Reading.  Writing about her experience at Reading in later life as a Carmelite nun she describes it as a time when she pushed religion temporarily out of her life. Details on her life at Reading are minimal in her autobiography, but her description of Percy Ure is a sympathetic one: “He was considerate and full of humour, and knew how to give us the benefit of his knowledge and experience without interfering with the details of our work.” A few years into her lectureship, University College Reading’s Annual Report noted that she was granted research leave “to prosecute her studies on the early relations between Brittany and the Celtic communities of the British Isles”.

In the early 1920s, another post-graduate student came to the Classics department: Elsie Calam.  Her special studies in Romano-British archaeology were funded by the Town of Huddersfield; she had been a student at Huddersfield Technical College during the war.

Beyond Annie Hunt (later Annie Ure), who achieved considerable success as an archaeologist and curator, very little information has been published on the experiences of most of these early Reading women. You might notice that more men in this post have weblinks than the women mentioned.*  But there is more to find in the archives – this is only the beginning.


*Special thanks to the women involved in #WCCWiki for helping me identify first names for some of the women listed here!


References/Further Reading

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette. 1909. The Englishwoman’s Year Book. [British Newspaper Archive], 23 Dec.

Berkshire Chronicle. 1885. Oxford Extension Lectures. [British Newspaper Archive] 27 June.

Leigh, M. 1952. The Fruit in the Seed. London: Phoenix House.

Waugh, A. 1919. Modernity and Consolation. The Bookman. [British Periodicals] February.

University College Reading Annual Reports.

Did you miss the MOISA 2018 concert?

The videos of the stunning musical performances from the concert held during the 2018 MOISA conference (organised at the University of Reading by James Lloyd, Ian Rutherford and Donatella Restani) are now available on the Department of Classics’ YouTube channel.  They represent the latest research into ancient musical performance and how Greek songs would have sounded.  Here are the links.

Various pieces

Delphic paean

Your Department Needs You! … to read Homer’s Iliad

Next month (Friday 22nd March) the Department will take part in an international festival of Latin and Greek.  Students, staff and other colleagues will join people across the world in reading a book of the Iliad out loud in a public place.  This way, we shall be experiencing the Iliad in the ways that ancient Greeks might have done, and we shall be sharing our love of classical poetry and culture with random passersby!

Here is a link to the Festival homepage, and to a map of all the reading locations.




Why would I want to do this?  Because it will be fun!  Get together with classmates and lecturers, bring a translation, spend a relaxing lunchtime amazing the passersby.  It will be near the end of term, so you will need a distraction from all those deadlines…

My Ancient Greek is not up to much…  Not to worry!  The whole idea is to read in a variety of languages.  Across the world, people are reading in Ancient Greek, but also in English, French, German, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Mandarin…you get the picture.

I’m shy!  We all are, but there is strength in numbers, and as the Greeks say, we learn through suffering – you never know, you might enjoy it.

But the Iliad is boring…. Bits of it might be, but we are going to read Book 6, where, a) Sarpedon and Glaucus debate heroism, and decide that the generations of men are like the leaves that fall, so why not leave a heroic legend behind, and b) Hector takes a poignant farewell of Andromache and their son Astyanax.  Bring a hankie!


OK I’m convinced.  What do I do next?  Good!  Please sign up here: Iliad reading sign-up form. The more we are, the fewer lines we each have to read, so less chance of embarrassment!  We read at 1-2 on Friday 22nd March, 2019, in the Edith Morley quad – more details will follow.  For more information, please contact Barbara Goff, b.e.goff@reading.ac.uk.





Hector takes leave of Andromache and Astyanax,
Apulian red-figure column-crater, ca. 370–360 BC


In the manner of Angelica Kauffman, based on a lost painting by her
exhibited 1769 at the Royal Academy in London; now in the Tate collection

Chancellor’s Award winners in the Department of Classics

In the latest round of Chancellor’s Awards, two of our students were winners: Aidan Richardson (Part 2, Ancient History) and Stephen Cervini-Attfield (Part 3, Ancient History).  The Awards are made on the basis of the previous year’s grades, and recognise exceptional academic performance.  A University-wide awards ceremony was held at the start of term, and yesterday Aidan and Stephen came into the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology to be photographed with their prize certificates against a suitable Classical backdrop.  Congratulations to them both!

Aidan and Stephen in the Ure

This term’s Research Seminars in the Department of Classics

Department of Classics research seminars, spring term 2019

Unless otherwise stated, all seminars are at 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon, in Edith Morley G25.  There are light refreshments afterwards in Edith Morley G40.  Everyone welcome.

23rd Jan.          Paul Christesen (Dartmouth College): “Spartans Living the Good Life? Luxury, Leisure, and Austerity in Ancient Sparta.”
30th Jan.          Sara Monoson (Northwestern): “Grieving Soldiers and Displaced Persons: Another Look at the Exile of Poetry in Plato’s Republic.” (This seminar begins at 5 pm.)
6th Feb.           Reading Classical Association lecture. Katherine Southwood (St. John’s College, Oxford): “Illness and the Quest for Meaning: Moralising Explanations of Bodily Dysfunction in Job and the Psalms.” (This event begins at 5 pm.)
13th Feb.         Mai Musie (Oxford): “Persian Eunuchs in the Greek Novel?”
(No seminar in week 6 of term.)
27th Feb.         Erica Rowan (Royal Holloway): “Tough To Get It Right: An Exploration of Roman Food Culture.”

6th Mar.          Naomi Carless Unwin (Warwick): “The Spectacle of Procession: Epigraphic Insights into Festival Culture in the Graeco-Roman East.”
13th Mar.        Richard Parkinson (Oxford): “Moments of Identification: LGBTQ+ History and Heritage?”  (This seminar begins at 3:30 pm.)
20th Mar.        Juliane Zachhuber (Reading): “The Lindians and Their Athena-sanctuary: Defining Changing Local Religious Identities in Space and Epigraphy.”


Enquiries should be directed to the Head of Department, Dr Emma Aston: e.m.m.aston@reading.ac.uk.

Reading Ancient Schoolroom seeking Associate Director

The Reading Ancient Schoolroom, which offers historically accurate re-creations of ancient schools for modern children, is seeking an Associate Director. This is a paid position, though not paid very much. For more information, see https://readingancientschoolroom.com/associate-director-sought/

Inquiries can be sent to the Director, Professor Eleanor Dickey, at E.Dickey@reading.ac.uk.

Classics contribution to UK Vote 100

Reading Classics’ Professor Barbara Goff has written a guest post on the website of UK Vote 100, which celebrates the centenary of women gaining the vote in the UK.  In her post, Professor Goff, an expert in the reception of ancient Greek political thought, examines the use of Classical imagery and themes in the campaign for women’s suffrage.  You can access her post here.

The post relates to an exhibition on Classics and the suffrage movement, located near the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology in the Edith Morley Building, University of Reading – access free and all welcome.  As she points out in her post, this is a very suitable place to hold an exhibition on this theme: Edith Morley, after whom the building was recently renamed, was both a suffragette and the first female University Professor (appointed 1908); and the Ure Museum has had a number of significant female Curators, up to and including the present incumbent, Professor Amy Smith.  Ure Museum website.

Re-imagining Mithraism

(By Dr. Claudina Romero)

No one would have thought that the construction works carried out in Mérida (Spain) to build a bullfighting arena in 1903-1913 would be critical to rebuild the religious life of the Colonia Iulia Augusta Emerita. The fortuitous discoveryof a group of marbles surprised many scholars, since the iconography and inscriptions of the monuments verified the presence of Mithras’ followers in the Lusitanian capital.

The Mysteries of Mithras were conceived as a set of beliefs of Indo-Persian origin that spread throughout the Roman Empire for more than 300 years. The cult was favoured by men: Roman soldiers and public servants, but also by senators, freedmen and slaves. According to sources, the mithraic hierarchy consisted of 7 grades, each one guarded by a planetary divinity: Corax (Mercury); Nymphus (Venus); Miles (Mars); Leo (Jupiter); Perses (Luna); Heliodromos (Sol) and Pater (Saturn).

The monuments with inscriptions were immediately published (an altar and statues of Mercury, Dadophor and Oceanus) as well as those that presented a clear association with the cult (lion-headed god and Aion). However, there were many sculptures poorly preserved that were discarded from the catalogue since they did not show inscriptions nor a clear iconographic link to Mithras. Such was the case of two male figures (one partially naked and the other naked with a lion by his feet), a Venus, a draped female figure and an eagle.

When I started my thesis on the Iconography of Mithras in Hispania, these sculptures captured my attention, since I noticed that they were all more or less of the same size, marble type and style. After a careful analysis of all the materials exhumed and having visited and studied other temples in the Empire, I proposed a possible reconstruction of the mithraeum in Merida, reinterpreting those marbles as the planetary divinities that protected each grade in the mithraic ladder. Fortunately, my ideas have been very well received by the museum that preserves the monuments (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano): they have decided to re-arrange the display of the statues and recreated the temple as I imagined. A woman in charge of the mithraeum…Who would have thought it?