Mary Beard: "What Can We Learn from the Classics?"

Three Berlin Family Lectures 2023

Acclaimed classicist Mary Beard challenged what the Classics mean by exploring the fun, the dangers, and the heady uncertainties and how they relate and don’t pertain to the present. Through three lectures Beard compared the art of antiquity to modern times and the central role of the humanities in facing up to the dilemmas of modernity. She introduced a cast of characters from ancient gladiators to Marxist theorists and 20th-century poets.

Lecture 1

April 20, 2023, 6 to 7:30 p.m. CDT

A Piece of Cake

Lecture 2

April 25, 2023, 6 to 7:30 p.m. CDT

The Shock of the Old

Lecture 3

April 26, 2023, 6 to 7:30 p.m. CDT

Fear and Loathing


Image Caption
Mary Beard's First Lecture "A Piece of Cake"

About Mary Beard

Mary Beard by Robin Cormack

Mary Beard is one of the most original and best-known classicists and is distinguished as an English scholar of ancient Rome who shares her knowledge broadly on the BBC and in the classroom. She is a professor emerita in Classics at Newnham College at the University of Cambridge; the classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, where Beard writes a frequently published blog called “A Don’s Life;” and a frequent host of BBC broadcasts about Pompeii, ancient Roman history, and historic figures such as Julius Caesar and Caligula.

In 2018, she became Dame Commander of the British Empire for her services to the study of classical civilizations. Among many honors, Beard received the Wolfson History Prize in 2009 for her book Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (2008), the Bodley Medal in 2016 for her outstanding contributions to the world of books, and honorary degrees from Oxford University, Yale University, and University of St. Andrews, among others.

Her broadcasting career took off in her mid-fifties, when Beard smashed through the boundaries of gender and even of appearance for learned commentators, naming herself as a “craggy white woman” and working in the midst of what she describes as “craggy white men.” She believes that looking closely at Greece and Rome helps us to understand more about ourselves and recognize how we have learned to think as we do. Beard has an uncanny ability to make classical studies, ancient Roman history and life highly intriguing and relevant for current times.