Clare Hall Colloquium

19.45 Tuesday 28 April, Meeting Room

Changing Perceptions of an Ogre

Mercedes Aguirre
Universidad Complutense, Madrid

Richard Buxton
University of Bristol

Greek myths have always been powerful resources for thinking and feeling: they are ‘good to think with’. We shall illustrate this with the example of Polyphemus, the best known of the one-eyed, anthropophagous, pastoral giants known as the Cyclopes.  

In the Odyssey Polyphemus is outwitted and blinded by Odysseus; in later Greco-Roman narratives he is the naive suitor of an unresponsive sea-nymph. Already in antiquity, myths about the Cyclopes raised issues relating to monstrosity, vision, and cannibalism. Cyclopean society was in part ‘ideal’, in part a negation of the values of culture.

Since antiquity, the Cyclopes have been a continuing cultural presence, in grottoes, operas and films; in Hugo, Joyce and Walcott; in Moreau, Redon and Paolozzi. A modern tendency has been to focus exclusively on the image of the eye. But Cyclopean tradition is far richer than that.  

Our talk will suggest some of the pathways and multiple meanings in that tradition.

Easter term 2015

28 April
Richard Buxton and Mercedes Aguirre 
Cyclops – changing perceptions of an ogre

5 May
Philip Jenkins

12 May
Pieter Botha
South Africa’s Freedom Park:
Considering land and religion in striving for identity 

19 May
Rosanna Cantavella
Sexual Education in the Middle Ages

26 May

2 June
Heide Estes
An enemy robbed me of life – voices of nature in Old English Poetry

9 June

16 June
Foss Lene
The entrepreneurial University – context and institutional change

On this page

A Midnight Modern Conversation (Detail)
Engraving by
William Hogarth, 1732

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Updated  Apr.07.2015