I made a list of ancient history sessions at Hay Festival 2014
In timetable order, here’s a list of talks that are directly related to ancient history or classics at this year’s Hay Festival, a wonderful annual event of arts and ideas hosted in the Welsh border town famous for its book shops (and for having its own self-declared king, but that’s another story). There’s plenty of other fruitful and interesting sounding talks too outside the purview of ancient history. The text here is lifted directly from the Hay Festival’s website, and all links below are the the relevant entries.
Event 61 • Saturday 24 May 2014, 5.30pm • Venue: Elmley Foundation Stage
The Battle of Plataea in 479 BCE is one of world history’s unjustly neglected events. It decisively ended the threat of a Persian conquest of Greece. For the Spartans, the driving force behind the Greek victory, the battle was sweet vengeance for their defeat at Thermopylae the year before. Cartledge masterfully exposes the Athenian/Spartan rivalry that ‘rewrote the history books’.
ADAM NICOLSON TALKS TO PAUL CARTLEDGE
THE MIGHTY DEAD
Event 30 • Saturday 24 May 2014, 10am • Venue: Elmley Foundation Stage
Where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter? His epic poems of war and suffering can still speak to us of the role of destiny in life, of cruelty, of humanity and its frailty; but why they do is a mystery. How can we be so intimate with something so distant? The author ‘travels in the realms of gold’ with the Leventis Professor of Greek Culture.
TROY IN WALES: COMMEMORATING THE PAST IN MEDIEVAL BRITAIN
Event 83 • Sunday 25 May 2014, 10am • Venue: Good Energy Stage
In medieval Wales, the Trojan legend became a symbol of Wales’ independent past before its colonisation by the Norman and English kings. This illustrated lecture by one of Britain’s leading medievalists reveals the nationalist agenda behind the Welsh version of the Troy story.
HERODOTUS: THE HISTORIES
Event 201 • Tuesday 27 May 2014, 2.30pm • Venue: The Telegraph Stage
The classicist introduces his translation of the first work of history, a work that tells us much of what we know about the ancient world. Herodotus was an endlessly curious man, and gathered information about the world around him from as many people and places as he could investigate. Whether it was the pyramids of Egypt, the cannabis habit of the Scythians, the flora and fauna of Arabia or the table dancing of the Athenian aristocracy, he was fascinated by them all. His accounts of the great battles of Marathon and Thermopylae, of Salamis and Plataea, retain to this day a matchless epic quality.
Event 263 • Wednesday 28 May 2014, 5.30pm • Venue: Elmley Foundation Stage
Despite the efforts of some recent historians, prejudices still deform popular and scholarly understanding of the Byzantine civilization, often reducing it to a poor relation of Rome and the rest of the classical world. Cameron suggests why it is so important to integrate the civilisation into wider histories, and lays out why Byzantium should be central to ongoing debates about the relationships between West and East, Christianity and Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and the ancient and medieval periods.
THE ANCIENT PATHS: DISCOVERING THE LOST MAP OF CELTIC EUROPE
Event 306 • Thursday 29 May 2014, 5.30pm • Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage
The author made plans to cycle the legendary Via Heraklea. It was an ancient path that took him deep into the world of the Celts: their gods, their art, and, most of all, their sophisticated knowledge of science. Gradually, a lost map revealed itself, of an empire constructed with precision and beauty across vast tracts of Europe. Oriented according to the movements of the Celtic sun god, the map had been forgotten for almost two millennia.
DIALOGUES WITH THE DEAD: EGYPTOLOGY IN BRITISH CULTURE AND RELIGION
Event 283 • Thursday 29 May 2014, 11.30am • Venue: The Telegraph Stage
In the century that followed the deciphering of hieroglyphic script in 1822, Egypt became a focal point in disputes over the nature of human origins, the patterns underlying human history, the status and purpose of the Bible, and the cultural role of the classics.
SIMON THURLEY, SIMON HODGSON, RICHARD PARRY, SIMON MURRAY, LISA NANDY
WHO OWNS BRITAIN’S HERITAGE?
Event 334 • Friday 30 May 2014, 1pm • Venue: Elmley Foundation Stage
Forests, castles and canals help to define Britain’s historic and living landscapes – but how should they be cared for? Where does the role of the state end and that of charities begin? This discussion looks at the politics and passions behind perhaps the biggest shake up of the UK’s heritage in a generation. Simon Thurley (English Heritage), Simon Hodgson (Forest Enterprise England), Richard Parry (Canal and River Trust), Simon Murray (National Trust) and Lisa Nandy MP discuss with the Festival’s Sustainability Director Andy Fryers.
CHAR LOTTE HIGGINS TALKS TO JESSE NORMAN
UNDER ANOTHER SKY: JOURNEYS IN ROMAN BRITAIN
Event 408 • Saturday 31 May 2014, 5.30pm • Venue: Good Energy Stage
What has the idea of Roman Britain meant to those who came after Britain’s 400-year stint as a province of Rome, from the medieval mythographer-historian Geoffrey of Monmouth to Edward Elgar and WH Auden? What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story, in song and in verse?