Symposium 2018


Scottish Hellenic Symposium:  Greece ancient and modern

Scottish-Hellenic Societies of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews, The Friends of the British School at Athens, and

The British School at Athens




Saturday, May 19 at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow:  232-242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RJ (see map below)



From 10.30   Coffee

11.00 – 11:10  Opening by Patrick Grady MP (Glasgow North)

11:10 – 11:20  Welcome by Scottish Hellenics Chairmen and Introductory remarks

11.20 – 12.05   Professor Alexander Stoddart:  Acropolis no.3 - a modest approach (*)

12.10 – 12.55   Dr Effie Photos-Jones: Κομμωτικόν, κοσμητικόν και ιατρικόν:  on cosmetics and medicines in Greco-Roman antiquity (*)

13.00 – 14.10  Lunch

14.10 – 14.55  Dr Emma Stafford:  Herakles and the ideal of heroism: the journey of a legend from archaic Greece to the 21st century (*)

15.00 – 15.45  Professor Margaret Kenna: Political dissidents in exile in the 1930 and 1940s (*)

15.45 – 16.15   Tea

16.15 – 17.00  Professor John Bennet:  The Work of the British School at Athens

17.00                  Closing remarks

(*) For abstracts and biographies, please scroll to the end of the page

During the day:  Bookstall (Hellenic Book Service), paintings exhibition (and sale by silent auction) and stalls.


19.15 for 19.30 Evening party, at Yiamas Taverna, 16-20 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 1HB (near Buchanan Galleries – see map)


Sunday May 20

Tour 1 - From Acropolis to Necropolis - led by Professor Alexander Stoddart to the Glasgow necropolis

Tour 2 led by Dr Michael Given to neo-Classical buildings especially those of ‘Greek Thomson’


These tours (c. 2 hours duration) will start at c. 10.30am at Elia Restaurant (George Square) & Tinderbox (189 Byres Road) respectively.




Name(s) of all people in your party:


(Please indicate if you are (a) a member of one of the Scottish Hellenic Societies or the Friends of the BSA or (b) a fulltime student) 



Address (email preferred):  

Number of people for main event including lunch @ £30 per head (£12.50 full-time students): 


Number of people for evening party at Yiamas on Saturday @ £10 per head:


Number of people for Sunday Tour 1  ………….. or Tour 2 …………            (no charge for either)





1.      For any queries, please contact Richard Jones (

2.      If possible, please book by May 1.  After that date please contact Richard Jones before sending money

3.      If it is necessary to restrict numbers for the main event, evening meal or Sunday walk, bookings will be honoured in order of receipt

4.      Please return the FORM by email (preferred) or post to Chris Lebessis (clebessis@aol.com115 Drymen Road, Bearsden G61 3RR)

5.      Please send PAYMENT either by cheque (payable to Scottish Hellenic Society) to Chris Lebessis (address as above) or electronically, as below.


For BACS payments:

Bank: The Bank of Scotland

Name: The Scottish Hellenic Society

Account no. 00875537

Sort Code: 80 07 24

Ref: Symposium




Please copy the programme and booking form to anyone you know who may be interested (to download in a printer-friendly format, click here)


The Saturday venue is in central Glasgow – see map  below. 


For car parking with discount see the attached list.  Buses arrive at Buchanan Bus station.


Trains from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Leuchars and Stirling arrive at Queens Street Station, those from south of the border (especially the West Coast line) arrive at Central Station.


From Glasgow Airport: Glasgow Airport Express service 500 into the centre.


Are you travelling to Glasgow by car?  There are discounts available for parking in nearby facilities when attending the event at The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.  Click here for details and direction maps to/from the participating car parks.

Alexander Stoddart: Acropolis Three; a modest proposal

The Greeks of antiquity, were they to return to Athens today, would be terribly impressed that ,say, surgery could be conducted there without the patient feeling the slightest pain, or that a stiff winged sky-ship could transport people to and from the city, or that each citizen owns and can drive a horseless chariot. But all this would do nothing to convince the time-travellers that the moral profile of the city was in the slightest bit respectable. Indeed, one factor, literally above every other, would indicate a depth of turpitude in the city of Athena beyond calculation ; the fact that the Temple of the Goddess was suffered to stand in great ruin amidst an acropolis laid waste. ‘Who are your Persian Governors?’ would be their question.

Modern Occidental society in general suffers from a particular kind of ‘Persian Governor’ in the form of an architectural modernism that both besmirches city-scapes with horrible new contemporist buildings while keeping ancient (or ‘historical’) structures in a condition they like to call ‘stabilised’. Indeed there is a feverish enthusiasm associated with modernist historical conservationism, and things old, and even old but mediocre, will be admitted to a kind of life-support ward to be kept vegetating in pointless decay. This is done to drive a wooden stake through the heart of the idea of new buildings being erected in ancient or long-standing architectural idioms. Modernism’s deep, metaphysical philistinism demands this perpetual murder be committed constantly as the key ideological component of its regime.

The acropolis of Athens is a most painful and prominent example of such historical pathologism. The remnants of the complex are minutely and scientifically cossetted in a way that Ictinus (the original architect of the Parthenon) would find utterly laughable. ‘Why don’t you tear it down and re-build, as we did after the Persian sacking?’ would be his great question. This is Alexander Stoddart’s question, today. Scotland’s Sculptor in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen will look at past proposals to re-build the acropolis of Athens in a developed but consistent neo-classical style, and will survey the other monumental architectural complexes that derive from and pay homage to that miracle of ancient art. He will present his own uniquely naughty opinion of the situation of the Elgin Marbles, and then ask if it is really impossible that the Greeks, today, might lead the world to extend historical conservationism into the realm of preserving the actual capacity to design and build in that way again, today. In a most high-profile cultural gesture the third great acropolis of Athens could be begun in our time, to the fury of our modernist Persian Governors and to the delight and utter astonishment of Attica, Greece and the World. The remains that currently litter the site? He has a special idea for their disposal.

Alexander Stoddart is a Scottish  sculptor, who, since 2008, has been the Queen's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland. He works primarily on figurative sculpture in clay within the neoclassical tradition. He is best known for his civic monuments, including bronze statues of David Hume and Adam Smith on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and others of James Clerk Maxwell and William Playfair. Stoddart says of his own motivation, "My great ambition is to do sculpture for Scotland", primarily through large civic monuments to figures from the country's past.


Dr Effie Photos-Jones: Κομμωτικόν, κοσμητικόν και ιατρικόν:  on cosmetics and medicines in Greco-Roman antiquity

The minerals that appear in the Greco Roman (G-R) technical and medical treatises are known to have had many and diverse applications as pigments, medicinals, washing powders, fertilisers, mordants and many others. Within the realm of substances, both organic and inorganic, assisting in health and wellbeing, Galen distinguished three types which he refers to as Kομμωτικον (Kommotikon), κοσμητικον(Kosmetikon) and ιατρικον (iatrikon)Kosmetika referred to substances which protected and preserved the hair, skin, eyes and teeth. The use of these was distinguished from that of kommotika used in the artificial enhancement of the appearance, for example as face-whitener, rouge, or eye makeup. It follows that the English word ‘cosmetics’ is more akin to kommotikon rather than kosmetikon.

The scholarly study of the G-R mineral medicinals has for long focused on first the identification of the mineral as per oxide, sulphate, silicate or other, often ill defined, and second on its applications, i.e. the ailments it aimed to cure (often equally unclear). To address both, our own focus has shifted to the natural and cultural landscape of their origin, the localities of their extraction reported in the G-R texts in the mainland of Greece and Italy and the islands in the Aegean and Thyrrehnian seas. Our methodological approach consists of a two-pronged investigation: a. the understanding of the empirical practices underpinning the (individual) G-R minerals extraction and processing, their package, shipment and distribution and b. the assessment of the chemical/physical /biological parameters that influenced their diverse applications.

Based on the work we have carried out over the years, I will illustrate the above approach with a number of examples.  I will focus in particular on two minerals/mineral combinations which served as both cosmetics and medicines, namely, the red pigment miltos (Discorides, Pliny, Theophrastus) and the white pigment psimythion (Discorides, Pliny, Theophrastus) the former, natural, the latter synthetic. I will use these two examples to illustrate how nuanced the industry must have been but also how little we know of it; furthermore, why researching it might provide an insight into a perspective, long forgotten, but potentially important because it was built on long observation and practice.

Effie Photos-Jones is Honorary Research Fellow  in Archaeology and Geography & Earth Sciences at Glasgow University. She is also director of Scottish Analytical Services for Art & Archaeology (Ltd), a company specialising in the analysis of archaeological materials.  Over the last twenty years she has been working on the archaeological evidence for the exploitation and processing of the minerals which appear in the medical and technical treatises of the Greco-Roman world, in particular Lemnos – Lemnian Earth and the earths of the Aegean co-authored with Allan Hall (2011) – and on Melos – Eros, Mercator and the cultural landscape of Melos in antiquity (2014), also co-authored with Allan Hall.  Prior to that she has carried out extensive work in archaeometallurgy and in particular the beginnings of iron metallurgy in Greece and the early bloomeries in Scotland.

Dr Emma Stafford:  Herakles and the ideal of heroism: the journey of a legend from archaic Greece to the 21st century

Herakles is the quintessential Greek hero.  In antiquity he featured in more stories and was represented more frequently in art than other hero or god.  His exploits took him all over Greece, to the furthest extents of the known world to east and west, and beyond this world to Hades and eventually to the home of the gods on Olympos.  The figure of Herakles continues to appeal today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century: his adventures have provided comic-book writers and film-makers with subject matter, while his very name is synonymous with physical strength.  Drawing on research by a number of scholars involved in the Leeds-based Hercules Project (, this paper will look especially at Herakles’ post-classical reception in the Greek world, from Byzantine literature via the poetry of Cavafy and Ritsos to the modern Greek press, Thessaloniki’s major sports club, and the cement giant Iraklis.  What has given Herakles such long-lasting appeal?

Emma Stafford is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Leeds.  She is author of numerous works on Greek myth, religion and iconography and their post-classical reception, including Worshipping Virtues: personification and the divine in ancient Greece (Classical Press of Wales/Duckworth 2000) and Herakles (Routledge 2012). She is also coordinator of the Leeds-based project Hercules: a Hero for All Ages, which explores receptions of Herakles from the end of antiquity to the present day.

Professor Margaret Kenna: Political dissidents in exile in the 1930 and 1940s

A unique archive of images of the life of political exiles on the Cycladic island of Anafi, plus published and unpublished memoirs, and interviews with former exiles, provide the material for this talk.

Margaret Kenna is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Swansea University. She has carried out research in Greece since 1966, mostly on the Cycladic island of Anafi, and among Anafiot migrants in Athens. Her main fields of interest include kinship, ritual, migration and tourism. Her major publications are: Greek Island Life: Fieldwork on Anafi (2001), republished in a second edition by Sean Kingston in 2017; and The Social Organisation of Exile: Greek Political Detainees in the 1930s (2001), which is based on the finding of glass and celluloid negatives showing the lives of political exiles on Anafi.  Most of her journal publications can be found on the websites and 

Professor John Bennet: The Work of the British School at Athens

This talk summarises the activities of the British School at Athens in 2017, including summaries of BSA-sponsored fieldwork, research carried out in and by the Fitch Laboratory, and in other areas, ancient and modern.  For those unfamiliar with the BSA, it also offers a brief overview of our history and current organisation.

John Bennet is Director of the British School at Athens and Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.  His research interests lie in early writing and administrative systems (especially Linear B), and the integration of material and textual data to understand past complex societies.  He has employed this approach to the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures of the Bronze Age Aegean, as well as in the context of diachronic regional studies to the Venetian and Ottoman periods of Greece. His recent books include The Disappearance of Writing Systems: Perspectives on Literacy and Communication(Equinox, 2008), co-edited with John Baines and Stephen Houston, ΑΘΥΡΜΑΤΑ: Critical Essays on the Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean in Honour of E. Susan Sherratt (Archaeopress, 2014), coedited with Yannis Galanakis and Toby Wilkinson and The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project: A Retrospective (ASCSA, 2017), co-edited with Jack L. Davis.


Exhibition of paintings on Greek themes by local artists.  A sample of these can be seen below, they will be offered to delegates by silent auction.

Looking down from Mystras    Volissos, Chios   


Opening speech by Patrick Grady MSP, Glasgow North
Opening speech by Patrick Grady MSP, Glasgow North   

Presentation by Prof Alexander Stoddart          

Guided tour of Glasgow Necropolis, by Prof Alexander