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Institute of Advanced Study

The Public Intellectual in Classical Athens and Today

The Public Intellectual in Classical Athens and Today at The Royal Society in London

The Public Intellectual in Classical Athens and Today at The Royal Society in London

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This panel event organised by Durham University took place on 28th June 2012 and examined the influence of ancient Athens on democracy today. The all-female panel featured TV presenter and historian Bettany Hughes, Guardian chief arts and culture writer Charlotte Higgins and ancient drama and democracy expert Professor Edith Hall


The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

28 June 2012, 19.00-22.00

The event will be a wonderful opportunity to hear Professor Barbara Graziosi, Director, for the Arts and Humanities, of the Institute of Advanced Study discuss the role of the public intellectual in classical Athens and today, together with three distinguished guests:

  • Edith Hall, is a leading authority on ancient drama and democracy. Known for her humorous style of lecturing, Hall has made many television and radio appearances as well as acting as consultant for professional theatre productions, and holding a research chair in classics at King's College London.
  • Bettany Hughes, one of the most influential TV presenters of classical civilisation programmes and author of Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore (Pimlico) and The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life (Jonathan Cape).
  • Charlotte Higgins, chief arts and culture writer of The Guardian. She is also the author of Latin Love Lessons, and It's All Greek to Me (both published by Short Books). Winner of the 2010 Classical Association Prize.

The public intellectual in ancient Athens and today: In the radical democracy of ancient Athens, ordinary citizens could express their ideas publicly - and have an immediate effect on the politics, policies and philosophies of the day. Socrates stopped people in the street, asking them what they thought the good life was. Pericles delivered rousing speeches in the assembly, persuading his fellow citizens to vote for war, or tax increases, or exile for unwanted members of society. Playwrights put on stunning and challenging performances for the whole citizen body (including, perhaps, women and slaves). Ancient Athens set an important example for later democracies: this debate investigates its influence on our practices and aspirations today.

The evening will build on the success of previous London-based events organised by the Institute of Advanced Study; offering friends of the University and the wider Durham alumni network the opportunity to come together for what should prove to be a most stimulating and engaging social occasion.

Date:                Thursday, 28 June 2012
Time:               19.00 - 22.00
Venue:            The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG
Format:            Drinks and nibbles will be available from 7.00 before the event starts at 7.30pm. This event will see Barbara Graziosi, in discussion with Edith Hall, Bettany Hughes and Charlotte Higgins and the audience.  This will be followed by a drinks reception in the Marble Hall for guests to mingle and chat.
Tickets:           £25 per person (full fee)
                          £10 undergraduate and postgraduate students (reduced fee)

To book and pay for your place please click here. If you have any queries about the event then please contact the IAS ( or 0191 334 4686).