Ancient Monsters in Modern Art

Monsters have been one of the most popular and enduring aspects of classical mythology for thousands of years. This talk discusses how modern art has adapted monsters from ancient Greek myth. From the Pre-Raphaelites to Pablo Picasso to Romare Bearden, modern artists (mid-19th c. to late 20th) have used classical monsters to reflect changing societal interests and concerns, such as the tension between the Industrial Revolution and appreciation for the natural world; the development of psychoanalysis and attention to the unconscious; and the effects of colonization and racism.


Debbie Felton is Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her specialty is folklore in classical literature. She is the author of Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity (1999), Monsters and Monarchs: Serial Killers in Classical Myth and History (2021), and many articles about the supernatural in the ancient world. She is also the editor of A Cultural History of Fairy Tales in Antiquity (2021), The Oxford Handbook of Monsters in Classical Myth (2024), and A Cultural History of Monsters in Antiquity (forthcoming, 2025).

Image title

John Singer Sargent, ‘Hercules’ (1921). Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Curated & Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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1st Aug 2024 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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