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In case this wasn’t obvious, I love Classics in general, but I’m especially interested in something called Classical Reception. Reception is the study of how Classical images, literature, ideas etc. etc. have been understood by people through the ages, and how they have changed Classics through their understanding.  This might include things like Mussolini and Hitler being very excited about ancient archaeology and using the distinctive Roman salute, or an artist reproducing the dying dog from Pompeii.

I find reception very interesting, but it does mean that I read articles with titles such as: “Mythoplasia and feminist intent: painting as sub/culture”, “The romanitas of the railway station”, or “The Uses of Reception: Derrida and the historical imperative”.  I’m sure these are all excellent articles in their field, but I’m so put off by the titles or the opening paragraph that I just stop trying to understand and go look at funny cats for a while or make myself a cup of tea.

However, I read a really interesting article last night called “The Use and Abuse of Antiquity: The Politics and Morality of Appropriation” in this book, and thought it was amazing.  It was all about understanding how and why fascist regimes used Classical archaeology and imagery as a statement about art as well as about themselves, and why it is not helpful just to put them into the evil bin and have done with it. It restored my faith in Reception as well as in my own comprehension ability.

I really encourage you, next time you’re out and about, to notice little Classical things about your surroundings and ask why they are there. Why do so many museums look like ancient temples? Why are there so many columns on government buildings? Why do we still use Latin mottos (E Pluribus Unum, Nemo Me Impune Lascessit etc.)? Classics is everywhere, it only remains to ask what purpose it serves.

In the meantime, I’ll be inside, trying to forget about the gorgeous weather outside the winddow by bashing my head against my keyboard and hoping a thesis emerges. Wish me luck!

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