Chasing the Shadows of the Past in Late Ottoman Argos

Lecture | November 6 | 8-9 p.m. |  Alumni House

 Jonathan M. Hall, University of Chicago

 Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, Graduate Group in

If there is one sentiment that is common to nearly all the accounts written by European travelers to the Peloponnesian town of Argos during the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, it is one of profound disappointment and shock at the lack of visible remains of a city whose fame had been so lauded in antiquity. Inevitably, perhaps, imagination filled the void that autopsy was unable to satisfy. That imagination was fueled by a familiarity with the ancient authors – and, in particular, a rather uncritical reading of Pausanias’ Hellados Periēgēsis, which served to animate a representation of Argos that was simultaneously heterotopic and heterochronic. But the preconceptions of western travelers were also intertwined with an indigenous discourse about the past that was informed more by local “memories” and the material landscape than by displays of scholastic literacy. This lecture will explore the confrontation between the ideal and the material through three specific examples: the temple of Apollo Lykeios, the prison of Danae, and the heroic exploits of the warrior-poetess Telesilla.