Trinity University is excited to announce the 2023 Lennox Seminar Lecture Series with the theme of “Roman Landscapes: Art, Nature, and Myth.” This year’s series will be hosted by Trinity’s Department of Classical Studies and is being organized in conjunction with the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is hosting a major exhibit on the same topic.
As an interdisciplinary humanities lecture series, the Lennox Series hosts guest speakers from departments such as human communication, theater, classical studies, modern languages and literatures, history, religion, sociology, communication, and others. The Lennox Seminar Lecture Series is made possible by the Martha, David, and Bagby Lennox Foundation. For more information on the lectures in this series and other similar events, visit events.trinity.edu.
Explore this year’s lectures and meet the four guest speakers.
“Trees and Their Messages in the Roman Landscape”
Bettina Bergmann, Ph.D.
Wednesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in Dicke Hall 104
This lecture will discuss the many roles that trees played in shaping Roman culture and perceptions of the environment, from domestic decoration to religious divination. Since the early practice of augury, trees played a key role in defining sacred terrain. Late verbal and visual images attest how trees marked sites of worship, preserved historical memory, and resolved legal disputes. A gnarled oak forms a nodal point for travelers and pilgrims; regimented rows of trees demarcate private boundaries and promise fertility of crops; orchards protect and enliven tombs. Roman modes of viewing trees capture a dynamic reciprocity between arboreal and human life.
Bettina Bergmann, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of art history at Mount Holyoke College. She has published numerous essays on Roman villas, houses, and wall paintings in the excavated sites around the Bay of Naples; on their rediscovery, reconstruction, and modern reception; and on representations of women, myth, and the art of ancient landscape and gardens.
“Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in the Casa dell’Efebo, Pompeii”
Caitlín Barrett, Ph.D.
Wednesday, March 22, at 7 p.m. in Dicke Hall 104
This lecture will reference a case study from Pompeii, Italy, to investigate the construction and representation of “Egypt” in the Roman household space and, by extension, how ancient viewers encountered and interacted with domestic images of the empire. In the garden of the house known as the “Casa dell’Efebo,” paintings of Egyptian riverscapes shared space and interacted with a complex assemblage of architecture, wall paintings, statuary, and vegetation. This case study recontextualizes the Nilotic frescoes (Roman depictions of imagined Egyptian landscape and important sources for the iconography and material constitution of Roman imperialism) within this eclectic ensemble, examining how the contents of the garden work together to create a sense of place, construct real and imagined landscapes, and shape the experiences available to the people who used this space.
Caitlín Barrett, Ph.D., is an associate professor of classics at Cornell University. She is an archaeologist who investigates everyday life, religious experience, and cross-cultural interactions in the ancient Mediterranean. Barrett has published extensively on interactions between Egypt and the Greco-Roman world and is the author of two books: Egyptianizing Figurines from Delos: A Study in Hellenistic Religion (Brill, 2011) and Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in Pompeian Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2019).
“Beyond the Picturesque: Personification as Landscape in Roman Visual Culture”
Jaś Elsner, Ph.D.
Friday, March 31, at 6 p.m. at the San Antonio Museum of Art
This lecture will explore the place of personification in Roman landscape imagery and the ways it works alongside and against more literalist or mimetic landscape painting. The lecture will draw on materials from the exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art, analyzing them against some later objects and brilliant texts on Roman landscape painting in works by major Roman writers.
Jaś Elsner, Ph.D., is a professor of late antique art at Oxford University and a visiting professor of art and religion at the University of Chicago. He is a Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology and Art as well as an external member at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. Elsner works on all aspects of Roman, early Christian, and Byzantine art, especially the literature of art and description in antiquity, comparativism in the arts of Eurasia, and the historiography and methodologies of art history.
“Patron’s Tomb: Landscape, Family, and Legacy in Roman Art”
Rachel Foulk, Ph.D.
Wednesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in Dicke Hall 104
Patron’s Tomb, a first-century BCE tomb in Rome, Italy, now featured in the San Antonio Museum of Art’s exhibition, utilizes landscape to deny the darkness of death. This presentation will examine the lush garden imagery of Patron’s Tomb alongside the Ara Pacis Augustae to explore how landscapes evoked the regenerative powers of nature and expressed hope for the longevity of Roman families.
Rachel Foulk, Ph.D., is a professor of art history at Ferris State University. She holds a doctorate in art history from Emory University, with a specialization in ancient Greek and Roman art. Her research interests include Roman painting, landscape studies, and the political and social implications of ancient Mediterranean art. Currently, Foulk is writing a book titled Luxurious Views: Landscape Painting in Roman Art.
The above image is from the San Antonio Museum of Art's exhibition "Roman Landscapes: Visions of Nature and Myth from Rome and Pompeii."
Wall painting from the House of the Golden Bracelet in Pompeii
Late 1st century BC – early 1st century AD
Pompeii, Parco Archeologico di Pompei, 54967a, 54967b, 54967d