The Sam Nakis Annual Memorial Lecture
Crete from the Homeric Age to Rome: Mixing, Myths and Monsters
Presented by Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., William M. Suttles Chair in Religious Studies in the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Reception: 7 p.m. Lecture: 7:30 p.m.
Monday, February 20, 2023 Century Room A, Millennium Student Center University of Missouri-St. Louis
This event is free and open to the public!
In his current book project, Marvelous Mixing: A Cosmopolitan History of Crete, Prof. Louis Ruprecht returns to the part of Greece where he has worked most often: the island of Crete. It now appears that that homo sapiens arrived on the southern coast of Crete some 200,000-300,000 years ago. Thus Crete, Homer’s mythic “island in the middle of a wine dark sea,” has always been subject to repeated waves of human migration. As Greek mythology repeatedly emphasizes, complex things result when foreign things are mixed: humans and animals, humans and gods, various natural elements, human cultures, languages, even music. Greek mythology also asserts that such mixing is risky. It produces marvels as well as monsters, and the author of the mixture cannot control which it will be. How human beings mixed on the island of Crete was distinctive. Yet the island of Crete has long been perceived as marvelous or monstrous, depending on a people’s political persuasions. Crete was decidedly marvelous in the Minoan Bronze Age, mysterious in the Classical period and in Plato’s later works, and monstrous to the Romans who waged a war against her alleged piracy at the end of the Republic, and to the author of the Letter to Titus in the New Testament who sought to force the Cretans to change their mixed-up ways. Perhaps Crete was not a land of pirates, argues Prof. Ruprecht, but rather, a land of complex possibility defined by her capacity to absorb and to mix in new arrivals.
Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. is the inaugural holder of the William M. Suttles Chair in Religious Studies in the Department of Anthropology (appointed in 2005), as well as the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies (appointed in 2012), at Georgia State University in Atlanta. His work explores the influence and adaptation of classical themes and materials in subsequent cultural and historical environments. In 2021, his work was recognized by the President of the Hellenic Republic with the award of the Golden Cross of the Order of the Phoenix.