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Edinburgh University: Prof Dame Mary Beard – Gifford Lectures – #1/6 – The Ancient World and us – Introduction: Murderous games



Professor Dame Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, delivers the Gifford Lecture “Introduction: Murderous games”. It is the first lecture in the series “The Ancient World and us: from fear and loathing to enlightenment and ethics”.

This lecture introduces some of those moral and ethical dilemmas in studying the classical world, asking how we understand remote ancient cultures that have come to stand both for the pinnacle of “civilisation” and for the nadir of corruption and cruelty. Choosing the gladiatorial games as one case study, it takes aim at the sense of moral superiority that we so often display in the face of some of antiquity’s worst “crimes”.

This lecture series explores why the classical world still matters and what ethical dilemmas the study of classics raises (and has always raised). Taking six particular themes, it hopes to show how antiquity can continue to challenge the moral certainties of modernity.

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