Hesiod’s Pan-Hellenism in context
The oldest known Hymn to Hecate was composed by the epic poet Hesiod, a close contemporary of Homer who claimed to have received the stories of the birth of gods from the Muses themselves. His Theogony contains valuable clues as to the ancient understanding of the gods, since he recorded what was already being practiced in his time. His work sparked the idea of pan-hellenism – all who shared in, and passed on those stories, could be said to be Greek through playing their part in preserving the memory of the Muses’ teachings. Though the Greek language has evolved, like all languages, since Hesiod’s time, it remains a living language, and modern Greek culture retains many direct survivals from antiquity in its folklore, lay customs, and artistic traditions. In this richly illustrated lecture, Dr Sasha Chaitow, a cultural historian, artist, and native of Greece, sheds light on the meaning and context of Hesiod’s hymn. She narrates the evolution of the Greek dialects that eventually converged in the Koine lingua franca – at one time used, like English today, as a common tongue across much of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. She provides insider knowledge of the culture, mythology, landscape, and history of the birthplace of Hecate and other Hellenic deities. She will demonstrate the scholarly evidence to clarify common misconceptions, demonstrate correct pronunciation and use of Greek terms, and offer insight into the continuity of Greek culture across three millennia.
Dr Sasha Chaitow is an interdisciplinary British-Greek scholar of cultural history, an author, and an artist. She has published two books on her research into the history of esoteric thought in 19th century France, is working on a third, and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. She is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and has taught language arts and cultural topics for over 20 years. She is currently teaching a university course in writing for the sciences and is preparing two independent courses on Greek myth and philosophy for Winter 2021-22. Every summer she teaches part of a Greek Language and Culture immersion course for a Greek adult learning centre, and has adapted her material for this talk. Sasha is fluent in both English and Greek, having grown up in a bicultural family, and has divided her time between England and Greece all her life. She has exhibited her art internationally in 13 solo exhibitions, numerous group shows, and curates two galleries, one of which specializes in hand-made Greek art using traditional techniques.
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