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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Arts + Sciences Events

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Time: 8 pm to 9 pm

Contact: Connie Rodriguez, PhD · rodrigue@loyno.edu · 865-2287

Location: Whitney Bank Presentation Room

A Lecture by
Dr. Daniele Maras
Socio Corrispondente, Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia
Associate Research Scholar of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies
Columbia University, New York
Samuel H. Kress Lecturer
Archaeological Institute of America

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Whitney Bank Presentation Room
Thomas Hall
8 pm
free admission and free parking on campus

Co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Department of Classical Studies and the New Orleans Society of the Archaeological Institute of America

Greek mythology was the core of a religious, ideological and visual language shared by the peoples of the Mediterranean as part of the broader phenomenon of Hellenization. This phenomenon began earlier and developed in greater depth in Etruria than elsewhere; this involved an unprecedented reception of Greek myth, which prefigured a similar phenomenon that occurred later in the Roman culture.

In actuality, Etruscan selection and representation of particular Greek myths shed light on their own concept of religion and demand for self-identity. From this perspective, any discrepancy and inconsistency in the shared mythological language is particularly relevant, and can be compared with known differences between Etruscan and Greek ritual behavior. This approach provides the key to deciphering the peculiarities of the selection and adaption of Greek myth in Etruria, where figural monuments often represent mythological scenes that do not correspond to the narratives preserved for us in Classical literary sources.

Our knowledge of Etruscan civilization derives in large part from tomb contexts, thus providing a somewhat funerary-biased image of this people. Still, it is clear that funerary religion played an important role in Etruscan ideology, with special regard to their beliefs and expectations in afterlife.

From a few passages found in Roman sources, we know that Etruscan lore knew a ritual destined to make the soul of the deceased immortal and divine by means of special, recurring sacrifices. The dead arising to the rank of (minor) deities were then called di animales, “animal gods” (or, better, “gods (deriving) from souls”).

The existence of such a ritual could then encourage the proliferation of myths that concerned the divinization of human beings; in turn, this provides an explanation for the preference of such myths on the side of the Etruscans. This is the case, for instance, with Hercules, very often represented as ascending to Olympus or presented to the gods in an apotheosis; this could work as well for Leucothea, Ariadne, Tithonus, and so on. These heroic and divine figures were all much more frequently represented in Etruria than in Greece, the Etruscan often selecting rare variants of a myth that would show the performance of a sacred ritual (such as, for instance, a libation offered by Hercules, or the liquid of immortality offered by Athena). Even Tydeus, the only Greek hero who was refused immortality because of his impiety (in the saga of the Seven Against Thebes), in Etruria acquired a popularity that was unparalleled in the Greek world.