Han Baltussen Lecture

11 September 2017,


Fox Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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Coping with Grief and Loss: ancient and modern perspectives

A public lecture by Professor Han Baltussen, the Walter Watson Hughes Professor of Classics, University of Adelaide and UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

In this lecture Professor Baltussen will explore the rich repertoire of grief experiences from antiquity in an attempt to understand how humans have coped with loss and bereavement since the beginnings of Western literature. 

If grief is a universal marker of humanity, these ancient experiences should resonate with us today. Given the renewed interest in the process of mourning, privately and publicly, it is also worthwhile considering whether the ancient coping strategies have any lessons to offer, in particular through the power of words (written or spoken). Modern bereavement advice tends to allow for a great variety of approaches, from rational evaluation to creative expression. Professor Baltussen will ask whether ancient grief practices could contribute anything to this emerging area of the ‘healing arts’.

Han Baltussen is the Hughes Professor of Classics at the University of Adelaide, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and an editor of the Classics journal Antichthon. He has held prestigious fellowships: the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies (Washington DC, 1996-97), the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton Fall 2006), the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium (Brussels 2010) and a Spinoza fellowship (Leiden 2014). 

Trained as a classicist, he researches topics in intellectual history from antiquity to the modern world, in particular ideas with a lasting influence on western culture. He has published monographs on the Aristotelians (Theophrastus’ De sensibus, 2000, The Peripatetics 2016), the later commentary tradition (Simplicius 2008), and has (co)-edited volumes on ancient Greek, Latin and Arabic commentaries (2004), Greek and Roman consolations (2013) and self-censorship (2013). Three invited book chapters are in press for 2017 (in Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature; Neue Ueberweg: Die Philosophie der Kaiserzeit und der Spätantike; Oxford Handbook to the Second Sophistic). He is currently working on several larger and smaller projects, including on sensory experience in Greek philosophy, Peripatetic theory of knowledge, a monograph on consolation strategies in antiquity and a new translation of Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists (Loeb).