IAWM Hosts Latin 400 Senior Seminar

by Hugh Vandivier '91

May 7, 2013

About 40 alumni, students, family and friends gathered at 100 Acres, the beautiful outdoor art and nature park on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art on a nice spring evening on Thursday, May 2. They enjoyed a picnic dinner from Shapiro’s on the impromptu seating of the Funky Bones sculpture.

After being greeted by IAWM president Tim Craft ’00, the group trekked into the museum for a presentation by Dr. Jeremy Hartnett ’96 and the students of his senior seminar (Classics/Latin 400), which examined one of the museum’s ancient sculptures, the reclining sarcophagus of Flavius Agricola (c. 138- 193 A.D.), found in 1623 beneath the Vatican floor in the Basilica of St. Peter’s.

Surviving and on display at the IMA is the splendid life-size marble portrait of the deceased, who reclines on a couch while holding a cup of wine in one hand and crowning himself with the other. Now lost (and thought destroyed by papal authorities) is the epitaph, which consisted of a 15-line Latin poem. It identifies Flavius, describes his origin and family, and then concludes with a saucy admonition: "Friends who read this, I advise you: mix the wine and drink deep, wreath your head in flowers, and don't deny sexual pleasures to pretty girls, for after death, earth and fire consume all else."

Professor Hartnett explained the history of the funerary monument and each senior student presented a synopsis of his study:

·         Will Kline addressed the need to reconcile the statuary portrait of an old-man with a youthful body.

·         Alex Gillham asked “To what degree was Flavius an Epicurean?”

·         John Streiff covered the inscription and the Roman rituals of eating and drinking.

·         Michael Carper discussed the rites involved with Roman funerary meals.

·         Zachary Thompson examined the relationship between Flavius and his wife, Primitiva.

As an added bonus, alumni Michael Bricker ’04 and Nick Roudebush ’09 guided the group into the stellar exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which features 30 remarkable pieces from the Chinese artist.

The event follows a successful 2011 reception at the IMA for Dr. Elizabeth Morton’s work with Wabash students on the Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria exhibit.



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