Classicist, novelist and essayist Madeline Miller has won the Orange Prize for Fiction and continues to attract new readers worldwide for her sparkling reinterpretations of Classical epics for a new generation. Her novels include Circe, her acclaimed reimagining of Homer’s Odyssey from the compelling perspective of the immortal sorceress, Circe, and The Song of Achilles, which reads between the lines of the Iliad.
The Song of Achilles brings lyricism and poignancy to the stories of the characters that surround Achilles, the greatest warrior of the Greeks. It tells the story from the perspective of Patroclus, an exiled prince and Achilles’ lover/best friend. The novel begins with the childhood of the two men and extends beyond the Iliad’s end, drawing from other ancient sources, such as Virgil’s Aeneid.
‘Why Patroclus? I had been deeply moved by Achilles’ story ever since I first read the Iliad,’ Miller says in an interview. ‘His grief over Patroclus’ death is shockingly raw, and I was fascinated by this man whose loss had so devastated the great Achilles. I wanted to understand their connection, and why such an “ordinary” man mattered so much.’
Joining us online from the US, Madeline Miller will share insights into her work and her influences with Irish literary journalist and author, Anna Carey.
Over recent weeks, secondary school students in Ireland have been reading Circe and The Song of Achilles in book clubs, and Anna Carey will present a selection of their questions for Madeline Miller as part of this event.
This event will be available to watch here from Friday January 21st at 8 pm and anytime after that.
2-3 pm. Admission free, booking required.
The Classical Museum in UCD holds the largest collection of Classical antiquities on display in Ireland. The collection was started early in the twentieth century by Professor Henry Browne and has been added to through donations and loans over the past century. Artefacts include Roman and Greek coins, magnificent Greek pottery from the Neolithic period to the first century BC, glass, jewellery, inscriptions, funerary sculpture, Cypriot ceramics and a small Egyptian collection.
Adding another layer, the current temporary exhibition features work by artists Dorothy Cross, Michelle Doyle, Aleana Egan, Patrick Hough, Richard Proffitt and Charlotte Weise. It is curated by Jo Day and Pádraic E. Moore.
Classics Now is offering a rare chance to look at this fascinating collection of artefacts up close and to respond creatively through your own artwork.
The drawing workshop will be facilitated by multi-talented visual artist and teacher, Genevieve Harden, who is keen to invite those with little or no previous art experience.
Paper, pencils and erasers will be provided.
From 3.30-5 pm. Booking is required and spaces are limited. Workshop fee: €15.
School of Classics
K216 Newman Building,
University College Dublin
Belfield, Dublin 4
In Akala’s Odyssey, award-winning British writer, hip hop artist and activist, Akala, voyages across the Mediterranean and beyond to explore some of the mysteries behind Homer's Odyssey and its oral composition. From the shrine at Delphi to the Greek colonies in Sicily, Akala's journey takes him finally to the island of Ithaca. Along the way, he finds out what Homer's words may have sounded like to their first audiences, discovers how the rhythm and meter of those ancient lines connect to the beats of modern hip-hop, and comes face to face with some of the characters from the epic poem.
In this gorgeously filmed, multi-faceted documentary, Akala also investigates how his own experiences as an artist have been influenced by a 3,000 year-old classic. Akala undertook this quest as part of his mission to compose his own response to the Odyssey – a track called Blind Bard's Vision, which turns the tale on its head all over again.
Directed by John O’Rourke
Presented by Akala https://www.akalamusic.com
A Greenacre Films/Immovable Production for BBC
Duration 60 minutes. Ticket price: €11.50
The Guardian’s chief culture writer, Charlotte Higgins, writes brilliantly on all aspects of Classics, from Roman Britain to her latest book, a revelatory retelling of the key Ancient Greek myths, focusing on female figures, including Athena, Andromache, Helen and Penelope. Comparing her new book to an ancient mythological compendium, Charlotte Higgins writes that it sets out ‘to underline the power of the Greek myths to produce resonance for every new reader and writer, and for every generation’.
Charlotte Higgins will be in conversation with novelist and biographer Carlo Gébler, whose latest novel, I, Antigone, is the unforgettable story of Oedipus, as written by his daughter, Antigone. In this vigorous and original new telling, Antigone’s ‘biography’ of her father asks us to re-evaluate the extent to which any of us can entirely be blamed for the actions by which we will be defined.
‘When we are in trouble, as we are today, we revert to the literature of the ancients,’ Gébler wrote in his recent version of Aesop’s Fables. Together these two superb authors will explore the ways in which the Greek myths are, in Higgins’ words, ‘the opposite of timeless: they are timely.’
This event will be chaired by arts broadcaster and journalist, Paula Shields
Knight of Glin Room, City Assembly House, Dublin
Tickets: €12.50/€7.50 for students.
Theatre Lovett invites you to stroll through the crinkly papyrus pages of history, with helpful advice from Aesop’s Fables. Mister Fox rustles up fascinating facts from Ancient Greece and Rollicking Rome in a quirky quizzical test of our trivia - can we tell our Teiresias from our Tiberius?
Including such well known tales as The Grapes and the Fox, the Hare and the Tortoise, the Mice and the Cat, the hundreds of fables attributed to Aesop since the 5th century BC are endlessly flexible, adapted to suit the mood of the time and of the teller. Here the marvellously inventive Theatre Lovett take the Fables as a starting point for a magical whirlwind of their own.
Interactive performance for families. Suitable for 8+. Please note that masks are required for all ages from 8 upwards.
In partnership with Dublin City Gallery: the Hugh Lane.
Admission free; booking required
Tell me, Muse, about that man ‘who was driven wide, thrown far…’ Irish playwright Gavin Kostick is the latest writer to take on the daunting task of translating one of the oldest and most influential texts in Western literature, Homer’s narrative of Odysseus’ adventures at sea. Its 12,000 lines describe all that Odysseus survives on his circuitous return home from the Trojan War – the storms, the reversals of fortune, the transformations and tricks.
Join us to watch Gavin Kostick’s dynamic new adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey take shape, in a special work-in-progress presentation performed live by Janet Moran, Gavin Kostick, with an original live score by composer Andrew Synnott.
‘At seven years old I was again in a new school and reading The Odyssey in the playground. The school was called St Mary's Without the Walls, which was the most interesting thing about it. The playground was dark, enclosed, and I was leaning against a rail that kept the older children from the younger ones. A boy came over and smacked the book out of my hands and stamped on it. I still have the book - the old Penguin Classics version - with the little footprint visible. There's something in that incident about adventurers and observers, but I still can't quite say I've worked it out. I do know I appreciated the other boy's perspective – it was playtime, I should have been playing tag. He was the Achilles of the situation. But the otherworld, the world of gods, was so full and rich and I would wholly live there if I could. If only there was a way of bringing the world of doing and the world of dreaming together.’
Presented in partnership with MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland
Admission free; booking required, as space is limited
Director Conor Hanratty created a series of podcasts last year, introducing a new Irish-language translation of Aeschylus’ tragedy, Persians, by acclaimed poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Now that we can gather together as audiences again, we present a live, unplugged, version of the series, on the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre.
Aeschylus’ Persians is the earliest Greek tragedy that has survived to us. Unusually for a Greek tragedy, it describes a real rather than a mythical event: the battle of Salamis (480 BC), a key turning point in the long-drawn out war between the Greeks and the Persians in which the playwright Aeschylus participated. The play has never not been relevant: it is a critique of war, an attempt to imagine the experience and grief of others – from another culture – and a warning against military pride.
This special event is an opportunity to encounter a rich new version of one of the oldest extant plays we have from ancient Greece, and to be introduced to its retelling in Irish.
Featuring performances by Caitríona Ní Mhurchú, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Owen Roe and Iarla Ó Lionáird. With English surtitles.
Hosted and introduced by Conor Hanratty.
In collaboration with Once Off Productions and the Abbey Theatre
One hour and 20 minutes
Tickets €15/€10. Booking at www.abbeytheatre.ie
Top image: detail of bas-relief from the ancient Persian city of Persepolis, now in Iran.
Classicist, biographer and art historian Daisy Dunn brings the Roman Republic and Roman Empire to life thrillingly in her award-winning books and in essays for a wide range of literary publications.
In her first book, Catullus’ Bedspread: the Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet, Daisy Dunn pieces Catullus’ life together from his poems to create a gripping biography of Rome’s foremost love poet. In the background to Catullus’ love affair with the married Clodia in the First Century BC, the Roman Republic was falling apart dramatically, as Caesar, Pompey and Crassus forged a doomed alliance.
Equally finely crafted and vivid, her double biography of Pliny the Elder and the Younger, In the Shadow of Vesuvius, opens with a stirring recreation of the eruption of the volcano in AD 79 that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. It goes on to offer a snapshot of the Roman Empire at its height.
Daisy Dunn will join us from London, in conversation online with Irish arts broadcaster, journalist and playwright, Vincent Woods.