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Politics

Mary Lefkowitz at the Celebration of the Classics at the Greek Consulate in Boston

February 20, 2019

Boston – On the occasion of the celebration of World Greek Language Day, the Consul General of Greece in Boston, Stratos Efthymiou, organized an event at the Consulate featuring presentation by Mary Lefkowitz, Professor at Wellesley College.

There was a multitude present reflecting the many elements of the Greek-American Community and the main consulate hall was flooded with people, making it necessary to place screens and seats in the adjoining hall to accommodate all who wanted to attend the event.

Lefkowitz is a world-renowned scholar and professor of classical studies with over fifty years of teaching experience and many publications. She is a philhellene, a trustee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, and she visits Greece very often.

She is the widow of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones, a great Hellenist and former Emeritus Professor at Oxford University, and her fields of interest, both as teacher and writer, include women in antiquity, ancient Greek poetry, and mythology.

She became known to a wider audience with her book “Not Out of Africa” (1996), which successfully challenged Martin Bernal’s Afrocentric theories that claimed Greek civilization “was stolen” from Ancient Egypt.

Lefkowitz is a prolific writer and she does not stop “reinventing” herself.

In 2017 she presented, together with Madeleine Albright, a lecture on “fake news” and the lessons that modern America can draw from Ancient Athens.

In her speech at the Consulate, which Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University Jay Sammons introduced, Lefkowitz analyzed the Battle of Salamis, the rise of Athenian power, and the Peloponnesian War, specifically, the decision-making process for the disastrous Sicilian Campaign, which featured poor preparation, popular enthusiasm but political division among the Athenian leaders, and the prevalence of wishful thinking and arrogance.

She then referred to lessons that one can draw still draw from classical antiquity, such as how a triumph and a sense of instant supremacy generates arrogance that can lead to hasty and wrong judgments and decisions that can lead to the collapse of decades of effort.

Efthymiou, closing the event, congratulated Lefkowitz on behalf of the Greek State for her contribution to the support and promotion of Greek language, history, and culture throughout her fifty years of teaching Greek and Ancient Greek, and for her rich literary output. As a show of gratitude, he offered her a copy of a figurine of cycladic art as a gift.

Efthymiou hosted the lecture both in the context of the celebration of the World Day of Greek Language – February 9, 2019 – and the Boston Marathon Educational Initiative organized under the auspices of the Consulate General of Boston.

The endeavor included an essay competition in Massachusetts schools on the subject of the Battle of Marathon, presentations at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with the theme Art in Ancient Greece, a series of academic lectures, and more.

Efthymiou also acknowledged in the audience Harvard University Student of Classical Studies Ben Roy, whom he praised for translating, producing, and directing of Sophocles’ Antigone, which was presented under the auspices of the Consulate General last April at Harvard’s stadium before an audience more than six thousand spectators.

Among others in attendance were representatives of the Consulate and the Greek-American business community, George Alogoskoufis, Constantine Karamanlis Professor of Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies, Takis Metaxas, Director of the Albright Institute of International Relations at Wellesley College, researchers and professors from MIT, Yannis Tsitsiklis, Daphne Politis, many professors of Classical Studies such as Nikos Prevelakis of Harvard, L.J Samons and Kelly Polychroniou from Boston University, Peter Vamvakas from Emmanuel College, the president of the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England Vasilis Kafkas, the President of Alpha Omega Nicholas Ypsilantis, and many students and members of the Greek Diaspora from Boston and its suburbs. A public reception followed.

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