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Lecture: Beyond the Pillars of Heracles—Greeks and Romans in the Far West

September 18, 2014
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

In this J. William Holland Memorial Lecture, John Hale, University of Louisville, explores the outer reaches of Classical contact.

According to myth, the superhuman hero Hercules ventured beyond Gibraltar in quest of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, and on his return set up twin pillars to mark the limit of the civilized world.  But the lands beyond these Pillars of Hercules – Portugal, Spain, and Morocco – nevertheless lured generations of Greeks and Romans to seek their fortunes in the far west.  In this illustrated lecture, archaeologist John Hale will follow the trail of those ancient adventurers, from the colossal ruins of Volubilis in Morocco to the well-preserved cities of Merida and Italica in Spain, the latter being the birthplace of the Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian.  The great Roman villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal became a center for Roman horse-breeding, where the “good life” flourished amid gardens, baths, and dining halls decorated with extraordinary mosaic pavements.  Above all, recent discoveries reveal how the legacy of Classical civilization has endured in these western lands right down to modern times. 

Sponsored by the Classical Art Society

Affiliate Group: 

Hans Sebald Beham. Hercules and the Columns of Gaza, from The Labors of Hercules. The Charles Deering Collection.