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20th June, 2012

Training, Cheating, Winning, Praising: Athletes and Shows in Papyri from Roman Egypt

Event Details

20th June, 2012
6pm - 7pm followed by a drinks reception
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH
Free, but booking required

King’s College London Professor of Ancient History, Dominic Rathbone, chairs three short lectures on the ‘Olympic’ tradition in Roman and Byzantine Egypt as revealed by new and old texts from Oxyrhynchus

In the second and third centuries AD the cities of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire developed a mania for grand public competitions in athletics, musical performance and chariot-racing. This exuberant tradition, which was explicitly based on the original Olympic games and designed to proclaim the cultural Greekness of the competing cities, is best attested to us from documents on papyrus preserved in the detritus of the ancient cities of Oxyrhynchus and Hermopolis.

To mark the London Olympics a volume of new texts on this theme, ranging from literary works to a contract to throw a wrestling match, is being prepared for The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, published by the Egypt Exploration Society with the support of the British Academy and the AHRC. The lectures will present the most exciting of the new texts in the context of previous discoveries among the papyri.

For related Classical events see the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies  website.

About the Speakers:

Chair: Dominic Rathbone, Professor of Ancient History, King’s College London; Christopher Carey, Professor of Greek at University College London, is an expert on the victory odes of Pindar: Celebrations in the sand: victory songs and other texts from Oxyrhynchus; William J. Slater, Emeritus Professor of Classics at McMaster University, Canada, is a scholar of Pindar turned auditor of the finances of ancient festivals and competitors: Fame and especially fortune: the dark side of Olympia; Margaret Mountford, erstwhile corporate lawyer and adviser on BBC TV’s The Apprentice, has just completed a PhD in papyrology at University College London including the edition of some Byzantine circus programmes: The Oxyrhynchus papyri: because they’re worth it.

Attendance is free, but registration is required for this event.  Please click here to register  or visit the British Academy website.


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