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Townsend Lectures to focus on home in ancient Mediterranean

Barbara Graziosi, a professor of classics at Princeton University, will deliver the three-part Townsend Lectures on the theme of “Homecoming and Homemaking in the Ancient Mediterranean.”

All three lectures – on Sept. 10, 13 and 17 – will begin at 4:30 p.m. in 165 McGraw Hall. The talks are free and the public is invited.

Although focused on the ancient Mediterranean, Graziosi said, the lectures “take their cue from the present moment, asking what it means to go back where you came from or, conversely, make yourself at home in a new place.”

The first lecture will focus on what makes a satisfying story – and who gets to go home. “Reading the Odyssey, with Virginia Woolf,” on Sept. 10, will be followed by a reception in the History of Art Gallery.

The second lecture, on Sept. 13, will explore the question, “How can you love a home you do not yet have?” and is titled “Finding Italy, with Lycophron and Virgil.” The final lecture, on Sept. 17, will explore the links between nation-building and nostalgia and is titled “Giving up on Ithaca, with Ugo Foscolo.” Refreshments will be served in Room 119, Goldwin Smith Hall, following the last two lectures.

“We are extremely fortunate that Professor Graziosi is delivering this year’s Townsend Lectures,” said Verity Platt, professor of classics and history of art. “As one of our most brilliant Homerists, her approach to the longer history of the poems’ cultural reception means that she is uniquely poised to explore how they speak to our present concerns.”

Graziosi’s research focuses on ancient Greek literature and the ways in which audiences and readers make it their own. Her books include “Homer: A Very Short Introduction,” “The Gods of Olympus: A History,” and “Inventing Homer.” She also is co-author of “Homer: The Resonance of Epic,” and co-editor of “Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon” and the “Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies.” 

The Townsend Lectures were established in 1985 by the Department of Classics with a bequest from the late Daphne Townsend, a longtime benefactor of Cornell and the department, in memory of her husband, Prescott Townsend, Class of 1916.

Linda B. Glaser is news and media relations manager for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Gillian Smith