How can we use poetry and drama to find out more about ancient Greek understandings of the gods? In this academic talk, Dr Emma Greensmith tells us about the huge role that ancient Greek poets such as Homer played in shaping people’s ideas of the gods – both in their time and long after their deaths! She helps us decode a papyrus fragment (found inside an Egyptian mummy!), which makes a case for the existence of atheism in the ancient world. Whether or not you have studied Classics before, this talk will help you develop knowledge and essential skills for subjects including religious studies, literature, and languages.
Watch Dr Greensmith’s talk below! You can find links to the further resources she mentions underneath the video.
- For more on Homer’s Iliad, read this article on the BBC website.
- The Antigone Journal, an Open Access online journal which promotes the study of Classics
- Book on ancient atheism (written for a general audience): Tim Whitmarsh, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World (Faber & Faber, 2015).
- Book on the gods and fate in Homer (written for university students and academics): Denis Feeney, The Gods in Epic (Oxford University Press, 1991).
Talk by Dr Emma Greensmith, Tutorial Fellow in Classics at St John’s College, for the St John’s Inspire Programme Summer School.
Dr Emma Greensmith, Tutorial Fellow in Classics
Dr Emma Greensmith is a Classicist specialising in ancient Greek literature and cultural history. She is Tutorial Fellow in Classics at St John’s College, Oxford and Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. Before joining St John’s, Dr Greensmith held a Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge. Prior to then, she was Visiting Assistant Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, New York (2017-18). She wrote her doctorate as part of the AHRC-funded collaborative project ‘Imperial Greek Epic: A Cultural History’ at the University of Cambridge (2014-17). Dr Greensmith is passionately committed to improving access to Classics, and finding the best ways to communicate the importance and value of Classics in today’s society.
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