Roman Empire (not only) on the Film Screen by Maria Wyke
Between November 5 and November 7, Maria Wyke, a prominent classicist from University College London, will deliver a series of lectures focused on the fascination of film by ancient Rome, as well as an astonishing analogy between US imperial politits of George W. Bush, and the figure of Caesar. Her Wednesday and Friday talks at the Art Centre of the Palacky University - Konvikt, will be topped by a unique screening of silent shorts depicting life in ancient Rome, with live piano accompaniment, which will take place on Thursday, November 6, in the spectacular setting of the baroque Corpus Christi Chapel.
Wednesday | November 5 | 3 PM | Film Hall - Konvikt
Julius Caesar and the American Presidency | lecture – Maria Wyke
Again and again, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, political commentators critical of American foreign and domestic policy turned to ancient Rome, and its embodiment Caesar, to warn of the consequences of war and empire-building. For such critics, the USA was the twenty-first century Rome and George W. Bush its emperor, centralising executive powers, invading new territories, dominating the world. This talk investigates how Caesar as ‘first emperor’ came to be associated with the American presidency and how he has been used to bolster or, more often, to challenge contemporary American imperialism.
Thursday | November 6 | 6:30 PM | Corpus Cristi Chapel - Konvikt
Screening of Silent Films with the Introduction of Maria Wyke and Piano Accompaniment of Jan Černíček
Julius Caesar (1908, 14 min.), The Last Days of Pompeii (1908, 17 min.), The Rape of the Sabine Women (1910, 17 min.), A Roman Orgy (1911, 9 min.), Agrippina (1911, 18 min.), A Roman Scandal (1924, 7 min.)
A unique screening of six silent films with a live piano accompaniment of Jan Černíček and an introduction of Maria Wyke, a professor of Latin studies at University College London, this thrilling performace will take place in the spectaculous baroque chapel. Film has always been fascinated by antiquity, and ancient Rome in particular. The collection features various forms of this peculiar obsession, from an early piece by the first author of filmic Fantomas, Louis Feuillade (A Roman Orgy), to an American cartoon version of the chariot race (A Roman Scandal).
Friday | November 7 | 3 PM | Film Hall - Konvikt
Maria Wyke: Ancient Rome in Silent Cinema
In recent years, Hollywood has released a number of big-budget films set in antiquity, yet cinema has been fascinated with the ancient world and with Roman history in particular ever since it emerged as a new technology more than one hundred years ago. Within a few months of the first public shows of moving images held in 1896, Nero was brought onto the screen trying out poisons on his slaves. The vast majority of these films remain largely forgotten although they still survive in archives across the world. The persistent presence of ancient Rome in early cinema compels us to ask: why did so modern a medium have so strong an interest in antiquity right from its start? What did ancient Rome do for cinema? And what did cinema do for ancient Rome?
Maria Wyke is Professor of Latin at University College London. She has written extensively on Roman love poetry and ancient gender and sexuality, on the reception of Julius Caesar in Western culture, and on ancient Rome in cinema (The Ancient World in Silent Cinema, 2013). Most recently she has co-authored with Christopher Pelling a short work that explores why classical literature still has relevance today, Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome: Ancient Ideas for Modern Times (2014).