Press release from Smith College:
Paul Zanker, professor of classical archaeology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, will discuss the art and power of myth in Pompeii at Smith College on Tuesday, Sept 29. His talk, titled “Living with Myths in Pompeii and Beyond,” will begin at 5 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. A brief reception will follow in the foyer. Sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America, Western Massachusetts Society, the event is free and open to the public.
Through a consideration of Pompeian murals, Zanker will illuminate the world of myths through an analysis of the images with which people surrounded themselves—not only in Pompeii but in living quarters throughout the Roman Empire. These murals, focusing on scenes celebrating life’s pleasures and happiness, consisted of an uncommonly high percentage of only two subjects: the world of Aphrodite/Venus and that of Dionysus/Bacchus. In treating these individual topics, Zanker will draw attention to comparable images in settings outside the home, taking examples from mortuary art and emperor worship, making evident that depictions of life’s pleasures in private settings are connected to a broader canon of values gradually propagated in all kinds of rooms. He will also consider how this world of images depicting life’s pleasures fits into the “household” culture during the period of the Roman Empire.
Zanker’s research interests involve the archeology and culture of the Hellenistic-Roman period and late antiquity. His publications, in an impressive range of languages including German, Italian, French, English and Modern Greek include "The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus"; "Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Revealing Antiquity)"; and "The Mask of Socrates: The Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity." He is a graduate of the University of Freiburg, Breisgau, and has achieved certification from Archeologia Classica. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Berkeley and The Institute of Fine Arts at New York University; a visiting member at the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, and the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin; and professor at the Universities of Göttingen and of Monaco of Bavaria. He has also directed the German Institute of Archeology in Rome and is a member of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaft, the British Academy and the Academia Europaea, London.
The Lehmann Lecture honors longtime Smith faculty member Phyllis Williams Lehmann, who died in 2004. Lehmann taught at Smith from 1946 until her retirementin 1978. For more information, visit the Archaeology Program website or contact Jayne Mercier at (413) 585-3390.