LOS ANGELES – Representatives of the diplomatic corps, faculty, students, and members of the Greek community gathered together at UCLA on February 9 to celebrate International Greek Language Day with a symposium and special reception. Co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles, the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture, the Dean of Humanities, and UCLA’s Department of Classics, Center for European and Russian Studies, and Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the symposium featured four speakers, who looked at aspects of the Greek language from Linear A to the poetry of Cavafy.
The broad scope of the symposium mirrored the sentiments offered by Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Konstantinos Vlassis, in a statement on the occasion of Greek Language Day: “This day represents a journey through time that follows a course of two thousand and five hundred years, for which we are proud and which we have the duty to continue.”
After heartfelt introductions by Professor Kathryn Morgan, Chair of the Department of Classics, and Evgenia Beniatoglou, Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles, UCLA Professor Brent Vine treated the audience to a fascinating discussion of Mycenaean inventories of palace goods as well as linguistic archaisms.
In a stimulating lecture, Maria Mavroudi, Professor at UC Berkeley, challenged the audience to reevaluate the relationship of philosophy and theology in Byzantium.
Stony Brook University Professor Nikolaos Panou looked at treatises on the ideal prince produced in Southeastern Europe from the early sixteenth to the early eighteenth century, offering insights into how the calculated reception and appropriation of basic elements of Byzantine imperial ideology was designed to serve urgent propagandistic agendas.
Princeton University Professor Katerina Stergiopoulou offered a close reading of several of Cavafy’s poems, including “Ithaka,” looking especially at the use of quotations from older sources in the poet’s compositions.
The symposium was organized by Professors Simos Zenios and Bryant Kirkland, who also arranged for UCLA students to meet over lunch with the speakers, as well as with the Consul General of Greece and the Honorary Consul General of Cyprus Andreas Kyprianides, in order to deepen their engagement with the study of the Greek language. Consul General Evgenia Beniatoglou observed, “I was so pleased to work together with UCLA to organize this event. This was the first time that such a high-level symposium was organized in Los Angeles to celebrate Greek Language Day. I was thrilled to see so many students at the event, which demonstrates that there is enormous interest in the study of the Greek language.”
At a reception following the symposium, community members had the chance to chat with the speakers and also to celebrate the event with a Vasilopita. Appropriately, Maria Pantelia, Director of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, found one of the two hidden coins.