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First LUCAS Lecture

Thursday 28 November 2019
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
Rapenburg 28
2311 EW Leiden

The first LUCAS lecture will take place on Thursday 28 November 2019, in which a researcher from the LUCAS research institute (Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society) will speak about his or her field to a wider audience. The first LUCAS lecture will be given by Prof. Dr. Ineke Sluiter, professor of Greek language and literature and Spinoza laureate, and is organized together with the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

The title of the lecture is:

The traumas of Achilles

"Texts" from classical literature, but also from modern science do three things at the same time: they offer a glimpse into a world of thought, they offer a certain representation of that world, and they also help to shape it. But what happens if we want to make statements about the (social) psychology of the ancient world on the basis of literary texts and if we want to use modern categories and (medical) diagnoses for example?

Can we only understand Achilles in terms of breached honor, did he "just have a short fuse," or do theories about post-traumatic stress syndrome help us to read the Iliad? But how? Is one of Sophocles' pieces an anticipation of Stanley Milgram's infamous experiments about obedience to authority? This lecture examines not only the existence of ancient war traumas, but also the broader question of whether modern ideas about human cognition can help us gain access to the world, then and now.

After the lecture, the first LUCAS dissertation prize will be awarded to the author of the best dissertation that was defended in the 2018-2019 academic year.

About the speaker

Ineke Sluiter is a professor of Greek language and literature at the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) and vice president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In her research, she focuses on ancient beliefs about language, ancient values, and "anchoring innovation," and makes cross-connections between the Humanities and Cognitive Sciences. In 2010 she received the Spinoza Prize for her work.

Access to the lecture

All interested parties are cordially invited to attend the lecture. Admission is free, but you must register via lucas@hum.leidenuniv.nl.


The text of the lecture will be published by the Leiden University Press and will appear on November 28 after the lecture. All visitors to the lecture receive a free copy.

The lecture will start at 7.30 pm and afterwards there will be a drink.

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