The Classics Department recently hosted a delightful visit by Frederick Ahl, Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. Professor Ahl guest-lectured in several classes during his visit on campus, was joined at dinner by members of Eta Sigma Phi (Classics national honor society) and Western Culture 101 faculty, and delivered an evening lecture in the library to an audience of over 80 students, faculty, and guests.
The title of Dr. Ahl’s talk was “Polyphemus and Oedipus: What Happens When You Let Nobodies Define You.” He discussed both Homer’s Odyssey and Sophocles’ Oedipus and specifically addressed the textual transmission of Sophocles’ Oedipus, showing how even the smallest incorrect emendation of an ancient text can skew our understanding of that text. In fact, we learned that many of the assumptions we make about Sophocles’ Oedipus are just that: assumptions. He shared the surprise he felt when he stumbled upon a discrepancy in translations only to track the problem to two conflicting versions of the original Greek text. Dr. Ahl’s impressive handout and his masterful presentation allowed everyone to follow along just fine – even those among us who don’t read ancient Greek.
The Classics Department would like to thank Thompson Hospitality, the Lectures and Programs Committee, and everyone who contributed their services and expertise to make this series of events such a grand success.