By Grace Fellman, LA'19
This week, the John and Penelope Biggs Resident in Classics, Robert Wallace, who is a professor of classics at Northwestern University, will be administering three lectures on subject matter spanning from trauma to politics. Wallace is one of the world’s leading experts on ancient Greek history and is the current Biggs Resident here at WashU. Since 1990, the John and Penelope Biggs Residency in Classics has been bringing leading classical scholars, including experts in archaeology, history, literature, and philosophy to the university for lectures and conversations with students, faculty, and members of the St. Louis community. In addition to giving three lectures, residents meet formally and informally with undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members. The residents really, in this way, become part of the WashU community, even holding office hours and occasionally visiting classes.
Tim Moore, the chair of the WashU classics department, says, “On Monday, Professor Wallace will consider the moral world of the tragedies of Sophocles. Then, on Wednesday, he will compare the causes the great historian Thucydides gives for the Peloponnesian War with the causes given by the comic playwright Aristophanes, the biographer Plutarch, and modern scholars."
"Especially timely is the final lecture of the series, ‘Democracies, Ancient and Modern,' on Thursday," says Moore. "Professor Wallace will demonstrate how both the successes and failures of ancient democratic states such as Athens provide useful lessons and analogies as we work to make our own democracy function.”
As WashU’s classics department increases its outreach to the rest of the campus and the community, and as it expands both its undergraduate and graduate programs, this year’s Biggs residency feels especially exciting. Moore further elaborated on the significance of the residency as a whole, saying, “The Department of Classics is exceedingly grateful to John and Penelope Biggs for the enrichment that the annual Biggs Residency brings to campus. I hope those who attend the lecture series will gain a new appreciation of how the works written by ancient Greeks such as Sophocles and Thucydides still have much to say to us today.”
Indeed, with lectures on tragedy, history and politics, Wallace will be speaking on subject matter that will surely resonate with those who attend long after the event itself.
The Biggs Classics Lectures will take place on April 17th, 19th, and 20th at 4:15 in the Women's Building Formal Lounge, 4:30 in Hurst Lounge, and 4:00 in Moot Courtroom respectively. All three lectures are free and open to the public.