Classical Studies Newsletter, Volume IX, Summer 2003

Pallas Lecture
By Prof. Vassilios Lambropoulos

This year the Department celebrated a new Lecture series, the Dr. Dimitri and Irmgard Pallas Annual Lecture in Modern Greek Studies. According to the donors, the purpose of the series is "to promote greater awareness of modern Greek history and its artistic, scientific, philosophical, ethical, political, and other contributions to civilization." The inaugural Pallas Lecture was delivered in February 2003 by Stathis N. Kalyvas, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, who spoke to an audience of about one hundred people on "Violence and Civil War: The 1940's in Greece Seen 'From Below.'"

In the speaker's words, most interpretations of the Greek Civil War study the phenomenon from a top-down perspective, focusing on leaders and ideologies while dividing the 1940s into two clear-cut periods. The first period (1940-1945) is described as a time of quasi-universal mobilization against the occupation, during which heroism prevailed and division was missing. In contrast, the second part of the decade (1945-1950) is described as dark and depressing since popular aspirations were crushed, people were divided, and triumph turned into tragedy.

Approaching the Greek Civil War "from below" by researching systematically events "on the ground" subverts this monolithic interpretation. For instance, the period of the occupation was not just one of resistance but also one of civil war. Allegiances were determined not only by ideology but also by expectations regarding survival and the outcome of the war. All sides used coercion to deter defection and obtain collaboration from local populations. The resistance was not simply a popular movement but a quasi-state enjoying a monopoly of violence in large parts of the country. Conversely, collaboration with the occupiers was in many places widespread and collective, motivated by a variety of (often non-ideological) concerns. Identities were often an outcome rather than a precondition for the conflict. At the individual level, violence was often motivated by personal and local conflicts. Thus the approach "from below" makes possible a fascinating synthesis about a period in Greek history which is simultaneously very close and very distant.

This Fall, we are looking forward to hosting the second Arthur and Mary Platsis Annual Symposium on the Greek Classical Legacy. Its theme is "Bioethics, Ancient and Modern" and it will feature lectures (Sept. 21) and a roundtable discussion (Sept. 22) by the following speakers: Georgios Anagnostopoulos, Professor of Philosophy, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Director of the Center for the Humanities at the University of California, San Diego; Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, Ryan Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Georgetown University, and Member of President Bush's Council on Bioethics; and David A. Prentice, Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, Adjunct Professor of Medical & Molecular Genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Founding Member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. Distinguished U-M faculty will respond to the lectures and chair sessions.

Index of Topics

  • Letter from the Chair
  • Power Lunches in the Eastern Roman Empire
  • Poem by Anne Carson
  • Classics and the Cinema
  • Pallas Lecture
  • The Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS) 
  • Upcoming Department Events
  • Email Us!