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The American School of Classical Studies at Athens  Honored Mary Lefkowitz

NEW YORK – Mary Lefkowitz, renowned classical scholar, was honored by The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) at an elegant dinner in Gotham Hall, a landmark building in Midtown Manhattan. ASCSA is a unique center for scientific research and teaching dedicated to the study of every aspect of Greek culture, and on May 10 the revered institution honored the American academic who for over six decades has systematically promoted and encouraged the study of the humanities, Ancient Greek literature, and the renewal of political and social values inspired by Greek literature and philosophy. Lefkowitz, who was granted Greek citizenship in 2022 as a recognition of her exceptional services to Greece, Greece-U.S. cultural relations, and the promotion and enhancement of classical studies, has been a member of the Board of Trustees of ASCSA for decades.

She has authored a series of books including ‘Euripides and the Gods’, ‘Women in Greek Myth’, ‘Women’s Life in Greece and Rome’, Black Athena Revisited’, ‘History Lesson – A Race Odyssey’, ‘The Lives of the Greek Poets’, and many others.

Snapshot from Mary Lefkowitz’s award ceremony in Midtown Manhattan.  Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

Responding to The National Herald’s question about how it feels to receive another major recognition of her invaluable work, she said, “I am surprised to receive this award because I am not an archaeologist, but I believe that I represent what the American School does for people who study ancient Greek literature. I am fully integrated with Ancient Greece and have been studying Greek writers, philosophers, and poets since the age of 16. I started to love Greece because of Ancient Greek Literature, but now I love it simply because it is Greece, which you cannot understand without learning its history, from antiquity to the present, without seeing its geography, without visiting its monuments and islands. All contribute to understanding the ancient world. And you need to know modern Greece because it is the same country.”

The evening featured speeches and presentations about Mary Lefkowitz’s valuable work and about ASCSA, founded in 1881. Its two libraries, the Blegen Library and the Gennadius Library, directed by the distinguished scholar Maria Georgopoulou, as well as the Archives Department of ASCSA, are significant sources of interdisciplinary research in fields such as archaeology and anthropology, archaeological sciences, topography, architecture, epigraphy, numismatics, history, art history, philology, philosophy, religion, and cultural studies. The Archives Department includes collections of manuscripts and printed materials from the founding of ASCSA until today. The collections include, among others, the administrative archive of the School, excavation archives from American archaeological programs in Greece, and personal archives. A significant part of ASCSA’s archival collections consists of personal archives of historical figures of Modern Greece, whose creators (or their descendants) entrusted them to the Gennadius Library.

Bonna Wescoat, Director, and George Orfanakos, Executive Director of the ASCSA. Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

The event began with George Orfanakos, Executive Director of ASCSA, and continued with the welcome speech by Alexandros Zagoreos, Cairman of the Board of Trustees, the presentations by Bonna Wescoat, Director of ASCSA, and Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan, director of the School’s archives. Mary Lefkowitz’s presentation and award ceremony were conducted by Jacqueline C. McCabe, Secretary of the School’s Board of Trustees, and Lynn Sherr, journalist and author.

George Orfanakos said of ASCSA, “The American School of Classical Studies is for me personally the greatest gift America has given to Greece. What impresses me is to see people who were born American but choose to be Greek. People who not only love Greece and its history but also the Greeks, like Mary Lefkowitz. That’s why I’m here and working, that’s why we hold such events. It’s a great honor for me. Mary Lefkowitz, this great mythical figure of classical literature, carries on her shoulders classical Greece, systematically studying, highlighting, and promoting the humanities and Ancient Greek Literature, but she is also a rare person. By honoring Lefkowitz, we honor a great part of our past.”

Gotham Hall was the scene of the ASCSA event honoring Mary Lefkowitz. Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

Lou Katsos, one of the important supporters of Literature and Arts in the Greek-American community and a benefactor of ASCSA said it was an amazing event, highlighting that, “I am glad to support the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the oldest and largest research center of the United States outside America. In more ways than any other, it has left a deep and enduring legacy on the advanced study of all aspects of Greek culture.”

The number guests and the generous contributions of sponsors and benefactors was impressive, including Peter and Ethel Parthenis, Lou Katsos, Antony and Vicky Diamantakis, Calypso Gounti, Constantine and George Macrikostas, Katharina Hassapoyannes and David Blanford, Zoe Sarbanes Pappas, and Kathryn and Peter Yatrakis.

Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library of The American School of Classical Studies at Athens.  Photo: TNH/Yanna Katsageorgi

The presence of so many others contributed to the realization of a particularly successful and aesthetically pleasing cultural evening, with the aim of preserving and promoting Hellenic cultural heritage through the work of ASCSA.

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