2019 Georges Lecture: Conversations with a Colossus

The Tulane Department of Classical Studies presents the Dennis A Georges Lecture in Hellenic Culture

Conversations with a Colossus: the Vocal Memnon Statue in Egyptian Thebes

Dr. Patricia Rosenmeyer (The University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 7:00PM in the Freeman Auditorium (205 Woldenberg Art Center) ~ Reception to follow in Woodward Way

After an earthquake in 27 BCE toppled its massive head, the Memnon colossus in Egyptian Thebes began to emit a high-pitched noise every morning. Tourists interpreted the noise as the Trojan hero Memnon crying out to his mother, the dawn goddess Eos, and they left behind over 100 Greek and Latin inscriptions commemorating their experiences. Many inscribers turned to apostrophe, in which they addressed Memnon as a listener, and prosopopeia, in which they imagined Memnon as an interlocutor. I explore these two categories as evidence for the visitors’ yearning to find a personal link through Memnon to a distant yet privileged Greek past. Their inscriptions bear witness to their celebration of an auditory rather than a visual thauma, and their instinct to document the verbal exchange.

2019 Georges Lecture event flyer