Goldberg Lecture to discuss Greek architectural renewal under Augustus

View of the Agora, Athens, Greece.

Archaeologist Margaret M. Miles will discuss “Transferred Temples and Augustan Renewal in Athens” when she delivers the Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Lecture in Art History at Vanderbilt University Jan. 21. Miles, who is professor of art history and classics at the University of California, Irvine, will speak at 4:10 p.m. in Cohen Memorial Hall, Room 203. A reception will follow in the Cohen atrium.

Miles’ talk focuses on the time, starting in 27 BCE, when Augustus was the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Soon after defeating Cleopatra and Marc Antony at Actium, Augustus required populations and cults in western Greece to be uprooted and moved to create a new city, to be called Nikopolis, to a now much larger Patras. Meanwhile, Athens was still trying to recover from the devastating siege of Sulla a generation earlier.

Augustus supported an extensive program of religious renewal and architectural reconstruction, apparently forgiving Athens’ support of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. The architectural renewal is reflected in the importation of several fifth-century BCE temples and one double stoa, or portico, from the countryside into central Athens. New construction was sponsored as well, and at least one temple in the countryside was rebuilt and rededicated.

Miles will present the latest evidence for these remarkable transfers and deliberate recycling of fifth-century architecture and investigate the implications of this classicizing building program for the political realities in Augustan Athens.

Miles recently served a six-year term as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Her publications include Agora Excavations XXXI: The City Eleusinion (Princeton, 1998); Art as Plunder: the Ancient Origins of Debate about Cultural Property (Cambridge, 2008); and three edited volumes: Cleopatra: A Sphinx Revisited (Berkeley 2011); Autopsy in Athens: Recent Archaeological Research in Athens and Attica (2015); and Blackwell’s Companion to Greek Architecture (forthcoming 2016). Miles begins new fieldwork at Segesta in Sicily in June 2016.

Sponsored by the Department of History of Art, the Department of Classical Studies, and the Archaeological Institute of America, the Goldberg Lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall. For more information, call 615-322-2831.

 Fay Renardson contributed to this story.