Christopher van den Berg & Kate Thomas
Christopher van den Berg
Fighting with Statues: Venus, Minerva, and Rome's Civil War
This talk discusses how Cicero, during Rome’s Civil War (49–46 BCE), harnessed the symbolism of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and protectress of Athens and Rome, against Julius Caesar’s genealogical connection to Venus, goddess of love. It focuses on two of antiquity’s most famous statues—Phidias’s Athena Parthenos (Minerva) and Praxiteles’s Aphrodite of Knidos (Venus)—and how Cicero discusses and alludes to them in his dialogue “Brutus” (46 BCE).
Christopher van den Berg is the Andrew Heiskell/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Rome Prize Fellow in Ancient Studies and Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Amherst College.
Lesbian Arcadia: the Villa Gamberaia at the fin-de-siecle
At the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, Florence and its surrounding hills was so sought out and settled by Anglo-American expatriate lesbian artists and writers that contemporary commentators described the landscape as devoted to the “cult of women.” This lecture will focus on the Villa Gamberaia and its gardens. A highly celebrated Renaissance estate that was in decline by the nineteenth century, the Villa was lovingly restored by the Princess Ghyka and her partner Florence Blood from 1896 to 1925. She will explore how the garden’s features of nymphaeum, water parterre, secret garden, grotto and bosco can be seen to express what the novelist EM Forster called a “gay greenwood.” Drawing on recent theory on “vibrant matter” and “plant thinking” that see landscapes as mobile, sentient and desiring, she will reach toward a reading of how ruined and reinvented Italian landscapes shaped modern queer, particularly lesbian, cultural estate.
Kate Thomas is the Garden Club of America Rome Prize Fellow in Landscape Architecture and K. Laurence Stapleton Professor of English, Bryn Mawr College.
The shoptalks will be held in English.