*Our 2019-20 Programme will be launched at our AGM on Saturday 29th June – please check this page after the launch to see the dates and speakers for our next series of events!*
We are very excited to launch our brand new programme for 2018-19!
All of our lectures take place on Thursday evenings from 6.15pm (talk begins at 7pm) at AKS Lytham, Clifton Drive South, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, FY8 1DT.
‘What the Greeks and Romans did for us’ – Dr Adam Hart Davis
Thursday 20th September
We start our fifth year in great style with a prolific author, historian, photographer, broadcaster and scientist renowned for his popular TV programmes, particularly ‘What the Romans, and then the Tudors, Stuarts and Victorians, did for us’ – Dr Adam Hart-Davis!
Adam has been a co-presenter of Tomorrow’s World, and presented Science Shack, the Top Ten Treasures of the British Museum, and 14 science chat shows in America and an incredible 65 history programmes including Hart-Davis on History and How London was Built! As well as delivering talks around the country and abroad, he is the author of hugely popular books such as a Beginner’s Guide to the Cosmos, the History of Time, and the Military History encyclopaedia, and his latest best-seller: Very Heath Robinson.
What the Romans Did for Us, looked at innovations and inventions brought to Britain by the Romans, and in his talk for the Association, Adam is going to split his time between talking about selected Roman and Greek inventions and initiatives that particularly intrigue him. Practical mathematics, for example, enabled the ancient Greeks to tunnel through the island of Samos and estimate the size of the earth; and we still use their geometry in all our construction work today. Adam believes the Romans were brilliant at putting Greek ideas into practice, and gave us, amongst other things, public baths, public toilets, straight roads, and fish sauce!
We can’t wait to hear about all these ancient advances in society when Dr Adam Hart-Davis gets our Programme off to a great start on 20th September.
‘Septimius Severus in Scotland’ – Dr Simon Elliott
Thursday 18th October
Our second lecturer is Dr Simon Elliott, an historian, archaeologist and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent where he studied for his PhD in Archaeology on the subject of the Roman military in Britain. Simon has an MA in War Studies from Kings College London and an MA in Archaeology from University College London. For a day job he also runs his own PR company and is a former defence and aerospace journalist at titles including Jane’s Defence Weekly and Flight International.
His first book, Sea Eagles of Empire: The Classis Britannica and the Battles for Britain, won the Military History Monthly Book of the Year award in 2017. His second book, Empire State: How the Roman Military Built an Empire, was published by Oxbow Books just last year. He is a Trustee of the Council of British Archaeology, an Ambassador for Museum of London Archaeology, and co-director of a Roman villa excavation.
Since 1975, much new archaeological evidence has come to light to illuminate the immense undertaking of Septimius Severus’ campaigns in Scotland, allowing the true story of this savage invasion to be told for the first time. In the early 3rd century AD, Severus, the ageing Roman emperor, launched an immense assault on Scotland that was so savage it resulted in eighty years of peace on Rome’s most troublesome border. Dr Elliott’s latest book, already an Amazon No 1 best seller, shows how Severus’s force of 50,000 troops, supported by the fleet, hacked their way through the Maeatae around the former Antonine Wall and then pressed on into Caledonian territory up to the Moray Firth.
Severus was the first of the great reforming emperors of the Roman military, and his reforms are explained in the context of how he concentrated power around the imperial throne. Severus had fought off all challengers to seize power in 193 before embarking on successful wars of conquest in the east and Africa. Yet Severus, born in the blistering heat of a North African summer to one of the richest families in the Empire, died in the freezing cold of a Yorkshire winter in February AD 211 in the wild west of the Roman Empire. Why? Simon’s book is aimed at all who have an interest in both military and Roman history and his lecture for the Association will particularly appeal to those who are keen to learn more about the narrative of Rome’s military presence in Britain, as Dr Elliott will show why he thinks Septimius Severus was one of the great warrior Emperors.
‘Roman Art Beyond the Roman Empire: A View from Gandhara and China’ – Dr Peter Stewart
Thursday 22nd November
Our third lecturer, is Dr Peter Stewart, Associate Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Director of Oxford’s Classical Art Research Centre and former Reader in Classical Art and its Heritage at The Courtauld Institute in London. Dr Stewart’s research lies mainly in the field of ancient sculpture, including Roman provincial art, Gandharan art, and the sculpture collection at Wilton House, for which he is completing the history and catalogue. His past publications include, Statues in Roman Society; Roman Art ; and The Social History of Roman Art .
In his talk for the Association, Dr Stewart has said he is going to ‘let the pictures tell the story’ as he takes us on an artistic journey that highlights how art was one of the unifying features of Roman imperial culture. In some way or other virtually every part of the vast Roman Empire shared the same ‘language’ of imagery. Similar sorts of objects could be found from Hadrian’s Wall to the River Euphrates in Syria. But Roman art also had an influence far beyond the frontiers of the Empire and its reflections can be seen right across Asia.
His lecture aims to explore some of the puzzles around that influence, by focusing on two mysterious examples: firstly, an extraordinary suit of clothes decorated with classical images, from a grave in the Taklamakan Desert of South-West China; and secondly, the Buddhist sculptures of Gandhara in modern Pakistan, whose makers appear to have drawn upon Roman sculpture to invent a new kind of religious art.
Such examples of ‘classical’ imagery beyond the classical world have often been seen as the legacy of Alexander the Great and his successors, who conquered and ruled as far as the borders of modern India. But in reality, Dr Stewart believes, they tell us just as much about the globally connected world the Romans inhabited several centuries later. We are very much looking forward to ‘letting the pictures tell us this fascinating story’ on 22nd November and hope you can join us on this journey.
‘Where Eagles Dare – Delphi at the centre of the ancient Mediterranean world’ – Professor Michael Scott
Thursday 10th January
At the dawn of the new year, comes a familiar face and we are thrilled to welcome back our very own President – Professor Michael Scott. Michael has recently been appointed a Professor in Classics and Ancient History at Warwick University and we’re very proud of this recognition of his academic expertise and professionalism, and of his achievements over the past year, from becoming a National Teaching Fellow to winning a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on an ancient global history research project looking at the movement of luxury goods between the Mediterranean and China in antiquity. He has been busy filming for a new television series focusing on three ancient cities, Cairo, Istanbul and Athens, which will be broadcast this autumn on BBC 2 and he has just finished a lecture tour of conferences in America, as well as tobogganing down the Great Wall of China!
In his fifth annual presidential lecture, Michael will return to his roots in classical history by speaking about Delphi, the spiritual and cultural hub of the ancient Greek world, and the focus of his doctoral dissertation and subsequent publications ‘Delphi and Olympia, the Spatial Politics of Panhellenism in the Archaic and Classical Periods’ and ‘Space and Society in the Greek and Roman worlds’, and ‘Delphi: a history of the centre of the ancient world’. Widely considered an authority on this ancient sanctuary and its environs, we are privileged to hear Michael address us with ‘Where Eagles Dare – Delphi at the centre of the ancient Mediterranean world’.
As he states, for 1000 years, Delphi held sway as the premier oracle in ancient Greece and the wider Mediterranean. But how did it work? Who came? Why did they keep coming back? What did they get up to while they were there? And why does any of this matter – 2000 years later? This is an account of Delphi as institution and inspiration in both the past and the present. We’re really excited to celebrate our fifth year in style with our ever supportive and inspiring president and enjoy another Celebration meal with members too! So, we look forward to learning more about the home of the omphalos – where the two eagles meet!
‘The Secrets of Ancient Greek Music’ – Dr Armand D’Angour
Thursday 7th February
We stay in Ancient Greece with our renowned February lecturer from Jesus College, Oxford Professor Armand D’Angour, a world expert on the music of Ancient Greece, whom we are absolutely delighted to welcome to Lytham St Annes for the first time.
Professor D’Angour teaches Classics at Oxford, where he researches the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, and he was chosen to write a special Pindaric ode for the 2012 London Olympics. He also performs as a cellist, which was formerly his profession, and he is a member of the London Brahms Trio. His work on the sound of ancient Greek music spans his interests in Classics, music, poetry, psychology — and innovation.
According to a talk given by Wilfred Perrett in 1932 to the Royal Musical Association: ‘Nobody has ever made head or tail of ancient Greek music, and nobody ever will. That way madness lies’ . However, five years ago, Professor D’Angour decided to ask himself ‘is it really so hopeless?’ He conducted a research project to reconstruct the sound and significance of ancient Greek music, travelling to countries where traditions that stem from ancient Greek pipe-playing, string-playing and melodic systems are still to be found in various forms.
Professor D’Angour will explain that at the root of all Western literature is ancient Greek poetry – Homer’s great epics, the passionate love poems of Sappho, the masterpieces of Greek tragedy and of comic theatre. But few people know that almost all of this poetry was, or originally involved, sung music, often with instrumental accompaniment. Imagine that all we knew of the Beatles songs – or the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Britten – were the words. Then after two millennia we had the means to rediscover what the music sounded like. We would be bound to recognise the huge difference the sound of music makes to the listeners’ minds and emotions.
Music, believes Professor D’Angour, was as central to Greek life as it is to ours, having the power to captivate and enchant. In his talk, Professor D’Angour will reveal how, in the last decade, work on inscriptions, melodic principles, and on the reconstruction of ancient instruments has borne fruit and we now know some of the sounds that can be ascribed to the earliest music known to the Western world.
‘Boudica – What if she’d won?’ – Manda Scott
Thursday 14th March
Manda is a former veterinary surgeon who is now a novelist, blogger, columnist and broadcaster. Born and educated in Glasgow, Manda made her name initially as a crime writer. Her first novel, Hen’s Teeth, was shortlisted for the 1997 Orange Prize and she was hailed as ‘one of Britain’s most important crime writers’ by The Times in 2001.
Alongside her original contemporary thrillers, she has written two sets of four historical thrillers. “The Boudica series”, declared a ‘masterpiece of historical ficiton’ by the New York Times, were her first historical novels, rooted in the pre-Roman world of ancient Britain exploring the worlds of druids and the Roman occupation that, in her eyes, destroyed a once-great civilisation. Her more recent Rome series (written under the name MC Scott), and beginning with The Emperor’s Spy, are spy thrillers, set in the same fictional universe with some of the surviving characters from the Boudica series.
Manda has also written three timeline novels, including Into the Fire, which explores the truth behind the myth of Joan of Arc – and the impact those revelations could have on modern day France and her new novel, ‘A Treachery of Spies’, is released soon. In 2010, she founded the Historical Writers’ Association, of which she remained Chair until 2015 and she has written regular columns and reviews for The Herald, The Independent, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and has appeared on BBC Radio 4.
In her lecture for the Association, Manda will pose the question: ’Boudica: What if she’d won?’ and has sent us the following details: Boudica, whose name means ‘She Who Brings Victory’ was our most famous insurgent. Her one hundred thousand warriors met the (much reduced) forces of Suetonius Paulinus somewhere on the route between St Albans, which she had just sacked, to Anglesey, from whence he was marching with his legions, and suffered one of the most famous – and world-changing – defeats in British history. But what if she’d won? How would the course of history have changed? In her talk to the Classical Association on 14th March, author Manda Scott invites you to explore the possibilities with her…
‘Herodotus: The father of history, the father of non-fiction’ – Tom Holland
Thursday 4th April
Tom Holland was born in Oxfordshire and educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he obtained a double First in English and Latin. He is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, and the award-winning Persian Fire, his history of the Grecco-Persian wars. His third work of history, Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, was published in 2008 and this was followed four years later by In the Shadow of the Sword, which covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam. Four years later, he produced a documentary for Channel 4 entitled Islam: The Untold Story, which provoked what Holland described as “a firestorm of death threats” against him. He returned to a safer subject in 2015 when he published Dynasty, about the first Caesars, and his latest book Athelstan: The Making of England came out in 2016.
He has been the Chair of the Society of Authors and the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to ‘the individual who has done the most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome’. Holland has also written four novels and in 2016 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Tom has also adapted Homer, Herodotus and Virgil for the BBC and he published his translation of Herodotus in 2013, and it is Herodotus he is going to talk to the Association about in our last lecture of the year. Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire, and lived in the fifth century BC as a contemporary of Socrates, Thucydides and Euripides. He was the first historian known to have broken from Homeric tradition to treat historical subjects as a method of investigation—specifically, by collecting his materials systematically and critically, and then arranging them into a historiographic narrative.
Tom is also passionate about cricket and a leading member of the Authors XI cricket team – the oldest wandering cricket team in the world founded in 1891. In 2012, the Authors opened the Jaipur literary festival with the captains riding out for the toss on camels. I don’t think Tom will be arriving on a camel, although we put nothing past him, but his talk on Herodotus, will be fascinating, erudite and a wonderful way to end our 2018-19 season.