Design by A Worthy Cause combining Dublin landmarks with Roman statue of CiceroDesign by A Worthy Cause combining Dublin landmarks with Roman statue of Cicero

Programme of Events

Friday 2nd – Sunday 4th February 2024

February 2, 2024 11:00 AM

Museum Tour and Drawing Workshop

Guided tour of the Classical Museum with Museum Curator, Dr Joanna Day, 11-11.30 pm.
Admission free, early booking recommended as places are limited.

Click here to book tickets for the tour only, no drawing workshop

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 ranging from the Neolithic period to the first century BC, glass, jewellery, inscriptions and funerary sculpture, Cypriot ceramics and a small Egyptian collection. Thematic exhibitions change regularly.

Drawing Workshop

ClassicsNow is offering a rare chance to look at this fascinating collection of artefacts up close and to respond creatively through your own artwork. Our highly popular drawing workshop will be facilitated by multi-talented and inspiring visual artist and teacher, Genevieve Harden. She is keen to invite those with little or no previous art experience.

Paper, pencils and erasers will be provided.
From 12 noon -1.30 pm. Booking is required and spaces are limited. Workshop fee: €15.

Classical Museum,
School of Classics
K216 Newman Building
University College Dublin
Belfield, Dublin 4

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February 2, 2024 3:00 PM

Who Owns Antiquities?

Who owns antiquities? Join us for a discussion of one of the major cultural issues of our time: the restitution of cultural artefacts.

Museums everywhere are currently reconsidering objects in their collections and, in some instances, are returning pieces to their countries of origin. What are the arguments for the return of cultural artefacts to their homelands as a way of doing justice for past wrongs, especially in the light of colonialism, slavery and racism?  

The starting point for this wide-ranging discussion on the decolonising of museums and universities will be one of the world’s longest-standing cultural disputes: over the Parthenon Marbles, removed from the Acropolis in Athens by Lord Elgin’s men in the early 19th century and entrusted to the British Museum.

A new book by our visiting speaker, Alexander Herman, explains how the Marbles became the cause célèbre of the larger dispute around cultural heritage and restitution now taking place, one that embroils museums, universities, governments and the public. His book, The Parthenon Marbles Dispute: Heritage, Law, Politics (Hart/ Bloomsbury, 2023) offers a detailed analysis of the case, investigating new ways to resolve this and the many similar disputes around the world.

He will be joined by curator and art historian, Dr Éimear O’Connor, Director of Collections and Access at the National Museum of Ireland, and Professor Christine Morris, Classics Department, Trinity College Dublin. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald, School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin.

Presented by ClassicsNow in partnership with the Department of Classics, Trinity College Dublin.

Booking now open.

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February 2, 2024 7:00 PM


Join us on opening night for ground-breaking dance from one of Ireland’s leading choreographers, Philip Connaughton, in a thrilling interpretation of Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid. For two thousand years the tale of Aeneas and his companions’ dramatic flight from their burned city of Troy and the eventual establishment of Rome has captured readers’ imaginations.

Exploring themes both timeless and contemporary including war, migration, displacement and identity, through dance and movement, this intimate, unplugged version will be performed to an exhilarating electronic score. This bold new work offers a fresh perspective that speaks to audiences on an emotional level.

Philip Connaughton is a Resident Artist at Project Arts Centre, Dublin

The Guardian ★★★★
“…a thrillingly contemporary response to Virgil’s epic...”
“…a riveting ensemble.”

Presented in association with Once Off Productions and Dance Ireland

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February 3, 2024 12:00 PM

The Invasion of Melos

When is invasion or conquest justified? Are there laws of war? Who will hold belligerents to account? Is geopolitics always about self-interest and the survival of the fittest?

The invasion of the island of Melos by the Athenian empire in 416 BC brought all these questions to the fore. The historian Thucydides compressed some of these arguments in an elaborate debate, the Melian Dialogue, a chapter in his influential History of the Peloponnesian War. His account of the 27-year war between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BC) analyses the Athenians’ imperialism and belief in their own superior strength.

We present a rehearsed reading of Colin Murphy’s adaptation of the Dialogue. The short performance will be followed by a panel discussion looking at the 2,500-year history of the ‘realist’ school of foreign policy.

The panel, including foreign policy specialist, former Naval Vice Admiral Mark Mellett and Classicist Dr Kerry Phelan, Maynooth University, will be chaired by journalist Sarah Carey, columnist with the Irish Independent.

Presented in association with Once Off Productions.

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February 3, 2024 3:00 PM

In Conversation: Fiona Benson and Seán Hewitt

‘In these pages you will find yourself moved, celebrated and troubled in equal measure,’ poet and memoirist Seán Hewitt writes in the introduction to his new anthology. 300,000 Kisses: Tales of Queer Love from the Ancient World is a celebration of desire in all its forms, in a selection of texts from ancient Greek and Roman authors including Sappho, Catullus and Ovid and even some graffiti from a wall in Pompeii. ‘There are moments of tantalizing closeness between the reader and these passages, and moments of shocking distance,’ Hewitt writes.

He joins the Forward Prize-winning poet, Fiona Benson, whose dazzlingly original work includes an unforgettable retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur in her recent collection, Ephemeron. Her 2019 collection, Vertigo & Ghost, includes a sequence of poems of vulnerability, ferocity and fury in which Zeus is portrayed as a sexual predator, and confronted. ‘No one writes the way Fiona Benson does. No one is as raging, as fearless. These are the poems we will be reading to our children in fifty years,’ novelist Daisy Johnson writes.

This conversation about the many facets of love, power and desire, ancient and modern, will be chaired by arts journalist Paula Shields.

Presented in association with Poetry Ireland.

Illustrations © Luke Edward Hall

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February 3, 2024 6:00 PM

Cicero and Us: Vittorio Bufacchi and Kathy Sheridan

Famous for his persuasive political oratory, the Roman lawyer Cicero (106-43 BC), a self-made man, rose through the ranks of Roman society to become a Consul and join the nobility. Why Cicero Matters, a new book by Vittorio Bufacchi, explores the political philosophy of this immensely influential Roman politician and author, whose ideas about the best forms of government and the rights of citizens were shaped by the turbulent events he witnessed in the final years of the Roman Republic.

A great admirer of Plato, Cicero in his writings explored the ideal political state, built on justice and ethics. He also adapted and translated Greek philosophy into Latin for a Roman readership, publishing treatises on friendship and on old age, as well as his speeches and more political works. Hundreds of Cicero’s private letters to friends survive too, giving us invaluable insight into his values, his milieu and his life, which was brought to a violent end at the hands of the new autocrats, Mark Anthony and Octavian, in 43 BC.

‘This book is primarily a reflection on where philosophy overlaps with politics,’ writes Vittorio Bufacchi in the Introduction to his warm, witty and stimulating new book. Join him and Irish Times columnist, author and podcaster, Kathy Sheridan, to explore Why Cicero Matters.

This event is presented in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute, Dublin.

Istituto italiano di cultura logo
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February 3, 2024 8:00 PM

The Iliad: Emily Wilson and Charlotte Higgins

Goddess, sing of the cataclysmic wrath
of great Achilles, son of Peleus
which caused the Greeks immeasurable pain …

Emily Wilson’s bestselling translation of Homer’s Odyssey brought the ancient poem to new audiences, of all ages. Her new metrical translation of The Iliad, Homer’s epic account of the ninth year of the Trojan War, has been published to acclaim.

A renowned Classical scholar and author, Emily Wilson is Professor of Humanities and of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She joins us online from the US to discuss her approach to her vivid, propulsive and affecting translation of The Iliad, which draws the poem’s entwined themes of grief and rage into sharp focus.

‘I want to convey the strangeness, visceral humanity, and metrical music of Homer,’ Wilson says. She will be interviewed by the Guardian’s chief culture writer, the award-winning author and classicist, Charlotte Higgins, who was a guest of ClassicsNow in Dublin in 2022.

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February 4, 2024 2:00 PM

Dido’s Lament

The doomed love affair between Aeneas, the Trojan hero, and Dido, Queen of Carthage inspired poets, painters and Henry Purcell’s seventeenth-century opera, Dido & Aeneas. This beautiful Baroque work captures the intensity and tragedy of the story of the lovers first told by Virgil in Book IV of his epic poem, The Aeneid, and represented in art and music down through the centuries.

Join us to discover the many facets of the fascinating Dido in excerpts and arias from Purcell, Cavalli and Schubert, including Purcell’s famous Dido’s Lament (‘When I am laid in earth’). Performed by acclaimed mezzo soprano, Sharon Carty, accompanied by harpsichordist David O’Shea, with readings from Virgil and Ovid and introductions by opera director Conor Hanratty.

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February 4, 2024 4:00 PM

Love and Death: Rossellini’s Journey to Italy

With its poetic meditation on ruins and ancient art, Roberto Rossellini’s mysterious Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia, 1953) brings past and present into collision, through haunting images from the archaeological excavations at Pompeii.

Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders star as an English married couple whose relationship is fraying at the edges as they travel around Naples. Famously, the two Hollywood actors were not shown a script in advance by the director, nor allowed to prepare their roles, with the resulting performances having a dazed, vulnerable quality.

On a visit to the ruins of the Roman town of Pompeii they watch as archaeologists remove layers of ash from the bodies of two joined lovers cast in plaster. Witnessing this scene affects them profoundly – even if the archaeologists may have taken artistic license to stage it especially for them. ‘Throughout the film, Rossellini reflects on death and the afterlife and on cinema itself as a machine for keeping the dead alive,’ writes film historian Laura Mulvey (BFI programme note).

‘Perhaps what most people love about ruins is the freedom to complete them in their minds; the opportunity to fill in the blanks according to their preference, their imagination. Pompeii is no different.’ Michiel Huijben in Pompei, Pompeii by Bianca Pedrina, Mark Pezinger Books, 2019.

Film director: Roberto Rossellini
Italy/France, 1953. Black and white. Subtitled. 80 minutes.

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Venue partners

Dublin City Gallery: the Hugh Lane 
National Concert Hall
The Abbey Theatre 
Irish Film Institute

Academic partners

Trinity College Dublin Classics
Maynooth University Classics
University College Dublin Classics
Classical Association of Ireland – Teachers
Classical Association of Ireland 

Cultural partners

Poetry Ireland
Irish Film Institute
National Concert Hall
The Abbey Theatre
Dublin City Gallery: the Hugh Lane

About Classics Now

ClassicsNow festival invites audiences to discover and engage with the arts and ideas of ancient Greece, Rome and the wider ancient world, as interpreted by leading contemporary writers, artists and thinkers, both international and Irish.

ClassicsNow is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. It is supported by three leading universities' Classics departments: University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University, plus the Classical Association of Ireland.
International participants so far have been: Andrea Marcolongo, Daniel Mendelsohn, Madeline Miller, Charlotte Higgins, Natalie Haynes, Mary Norris, Daisy Dunn, hip-hop artist, Akala, and film director Sophie Deraspe. 

Irish artists from the first two festivals include Sebastian Barry, Carlo Gébler, Conall Morrison, Junk Ensemble dance company, Alice Maher, Denis Clohessy, Gavin Kostick, Andrew Synnott, Janet Moran, Theatre Lovett, Conall Morrison, Marina Carr, Nick Roth, Caitríona McLaughlin, Colin Murphy, Conor Hanratty, Once Off Productions.

Here is the programme information for the first two festivals, held in November 2020 and in January 2022: Due to Covid, the inaugural festival was virtual; 2022’s programme was a hybrid of online and live events in Dublin.

All recordings of online events are still available to watch, free of charge, on and the Classics Now YouTube channel.

Twitter/ Instagram @ClassicsNowFest

Festival Partners

Literature IrelandInstituto Italiano di Cultura DublinoThe Classical Teachers Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of Northern IrelandAdvocating Classics EducationIrish Institute of Hellenic Studies at AthensMaynooth UniversityTrinity College DublinInstituto Italiano di Cultura Dublino

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