Which could be the purpose of an International Latin/Ancient Greek FESTIVAL ?

At a time when we are confronted with a new type of barbarity, asking ourselves which values we would like to transmit to the next generations, it could be useful to remind what one understands under the word Republic – res publica, or « public matter » -, under the notion of democracy and citizenship, all values mostly inherited from the Greeks and the Romans.

Aristophanes’ laugh, 2 500 years ago, the Classics and Humanities, Cicero and his sentence : « Let the weapons be laid out in front of the justice « , all this now useless or for doddering people ?

In order to teach the values of the Republic and the laicism isn’t it necessary to know the origin of the idea of the people power – in Greek « laos » in opposition to the clerical authorities ? Giving back  » to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s« .

How many people did laugh at this unusual Festival where a Professor of University did dance the Frogs by Aristophanes and where a Choir did sing Theodorakis and a Finnish literature professor of Jyväskylä sang Elvis Presley in Latin ; where it was shown a play written more than 2 000 years in the past, in which Women are taking over the Parliament or starting a love strike so at to prevent their husbands to make war – tactics recently adopted by the Kenyans Women (2009) and others in the world !

The International Latin/Greek Festival doesn’t only deal with Classics and an old-fashioned vision of the Humanity. It’s a tool in order to face the Future, to give to the Youth a way to help it not to be immerged in emotions and fears, to give it Heroes as models and perspectives instead of only Euros. Our weapons for tomorrow ? Enthusiasm – whose etymology is : « the Gods in each of us » – , the Astonishment and Wonder in face of the Mysterious beauty of the Cosmos – the « Jewel », which is the origin of the word « cosmetics ».

The Greek word « thaumazein » means both Astonishment and Wonder – which are the source of our science and technology, our art of questioning the world, our philosophy and our human values.

Remember : if the Greeks did invent the word Barbarians – the guys you never understand because they are stammering bar-bar-bar -, they did also introduce the statement that : « « Greeks are they who take part in Greek education« .» (Isocrates, Panegyricus, IV 48)

What is the aim of Classics and Humanities ? Indeed it’s of no use. Just like love, just to remain human.

telegraphTimesonlineTimes1 Times2

Amphora72 USA

boris johnson et ea face
Elizabeth Antébi interviewing Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, on Latin and Greek

On Sky News : Johnson’s dad, the old block of whom Boris is a chip off, believes that Boris’s success will be down to a classical upbringing. « If you can really master ancient Greek, you can do anything! Pericles’ view of Athenian democracy is a very good model if you’re going to be mayor of London ».
Associated Press : « Johnson is focusing his campaign on London’s outer boroughs […] Mindful perhaps that London conservatives are stereotyped as rich white English males, he has spoken mangled ancient Greek to Greek voters (he learned it in school).»

The International Festival of Latin and Greek (IFLG)

Next One in Lyon 22-24 March 2016

Can you guess who wrote this: “I am appalled, even horrified, that you have adopted Classics as a Major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today…I think you are rapidly becoming a jackass, and the sooner you get out of that filthy atmosphere, the better it will suit me.”

This is in a letter written to Ted Turner in 1958 when he was a classics major at Brown University. The author is Turner’s father! Turner continued with his studies, regardless, and now appears on the website of the National Committee for Latin and Greek (http://www.promotelatin.org/) along with many other now-famous classics majors, including J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels. So let’s not make Ted’s father’s mistake! The Classics still apply richly today. That is what our Festival is all about.

The first International Festival of Latin and Greek (IFLG) was held in March 2005 in a little village in France called “the city of books”. With 14 bookstores for just 700 inhabitants, Becherel suddenly filled with classical enthusiasts: music, poetry, drama and recitals added to the lively verbal discussions. The next year, the event doubled in size and expanded outside France.

In 2007, the French version of the Festival moved to Nantes to accommodate the crowds. It continues to celebrate the myriad ways that Greek and Latin concepts help us understand who we are and how the world works. And 2010 : Luxembourg City at the wonderful Neumünster Abbey, under the patronage of Mrs Octavie Modert, Minister of the Culture. Then 2011 Paris, Sorbonne. 2013 and 2015 Lyon University and Ecole Nationale Superieure. Next one : 22-24 March 2016 Lyon.

Our Activities

This is not a stuffy gathering exclusive to Greek and Latin scholars. Most of the activities are in the language of the host country. And the disciplines range widely, as do the ages of the participants.

Among the recent events:

Theatre from Sophocles’ Antigone to The Assembly of Women by Aristophanes and The Persians by Aeschylus. Then also modern plays by the likes of Goethe, Giraudoux and Steven Berkoff on classical subjects such as Oedipus, Iphigenia and Electra.
Amusing spin-offs: Sing-alongs of John Lennon and Elvis Presley in Latin; the poetry of Sappho set to guitar; and mimes of Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Last year there was a contest for the best cartoon voices (balloons) added to the Greek Vase paintings.
Films with classical themes: Hercules, the Trojan War, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings.
Videos & Live lectures by historians, novelists, lawyers, doctors and politicians, all inspired by the arts of the Rhetoricists and Sophists. Special Interviews.
Round Table discussions on love, war, women and science, and how the classical concepts apply today.
Readings from some of the more “shocking” old texts: Juvenal on women, Apuleius as an inspiration for Harry Potter, Lucien, as the Foundation of Isaac Asimov’s work, where Steven Saylor found ideas for his mystery thrillers, and Margaret Doody’s Detective Aristotle.
Dance of the Antiquities, inspiration for Isadora Duncan. Banquets in the Greek and Roman styles (with recipes). Archeological Fashion Shows. Art of the Perfumes. Tasting of Ancient Wines.
Exhibitions :
Roman Africa, Paintings of General Gallois, Instruments of the Middle Age, paintings of Thomas Bossard on Latin Citations. Games in the Antiquity …
Concourse on Game and Creations inspired by Antiquity.
Theatre, amusing spin-offs, films, videos and live lectures, round-table discussions, dance, exhibitions

Our International Partnerships

Each year, other countries participate with representative troops, authors, films or professors. The following year, we bring events to their country. In some cases, we can give distance to the passions of a modern event. For example, it is easier to speak of Persia (Iran) from the perspective of Thucydides and Aeschylus. Egypt could be better understood by reading Herodotus. Cicero helps with concepts of the law. All the modern issues: human rights, women’s liberation, technology, advertising, ecology and even citizenship have their roots in classical times as well.

Here are some of our International Exchanges:

2005: “Thrillers, Songs and Comics of Antic Inspiration.” From Germany, Graf von Rothenburg came to explain his Latin translation of 23 Asterix’s comic books, worldwide best sellers in nearly every language.

2006: “Love, Music and Dance”. In partnership with the Karolyi Foundation (Hungary), the pupils of an Hungarian high school performed Plautus’ Mostellaria; Finland sent Dr. Ammondt who sang Elvis Presley in Latin; Greek actress, Anastassia Politi interpreted Sappho’s poetry.

In return, Rimini (Italy) invited us to present some of our Festival at their Festivale del Mondo Antico

2007: “Women, Children, Games”. France sent Parisian High School students to the archeological site of Gorsium (Hungary), to present Le Procès d’Hélène, which they have conceived with an anthology of antic texts (Homer, Ovide, etc.)
 Our Festival in Nantes featured a troop from Coimbra University of Portugal playing The Parliament of Women by Aristophanes.

Belgium sent an archeologist with an Exhibition on Ancient Games reconstitutions (that we could play) from Egypt, Greece and Rome.

2008 : “The Exploration of the Universe: Tourism, War & Science” (4-6 April 2008) We were part featured at the Theater Festival of Coimbra (Portugal) in July. For our Festival, we have invited a German group singing Hip Hop in Latin.

2009 : “Barbarians, Alien, Frontiers : the « Alter Ego ».”

Luxembourg, with the Lycée Aline Mayrisch, and Greece (Department of Education)

2010 : “Writers, Artists, Scientists : The Classic Heritage” At Neumünster Abbey, Luxembourg city. Under the Patronage of Mrs Octavie Modert, Minister of Culture.

Who Will Enjoy Our Festival?

–         Young people, 13 and above, interested in learning serious subjects in an entertaining way

–         Teachers and professionals of all disciplines – Humanities, Literature, History, Languages, Geography, History of Art, Information Technology, Biology, Physics, Medicine, Botanics (Latin is their Universal language), Law, Astronomy, Psychology, Advertising (with the Myths), Music, Film producers, the Tourist Industry …

–         Others interested in the classical subjects.

You need not be familiar with Greek and Latin, just happy to meet interesting people for the fun of exploring our common classical psyche!

The last Festivals…and beyond 

The Festival 2009

“Barbarians, Alien, Frontiers : the « Alter Ego ».”

The Barbarian, is, for the Greeks, the man (or woman), who doesn’t speak the same language and just stutters « bar-bar-bar » ; but the same Greeks think, like Isocrates (Panegyrics, IV, 48), that « We call Greeks people who participate to our culture ». At the time of the Romans, Barbarians are people, of German origin generally, invading the Empire, modifying the customs of Europe.  But a Barbarian could be also the Thracian Poet, Orpheus.
The « Alien » is the big theme of thrillers of today. The « Metoikos » – the Foreigner « living with » the others citizens, and having some rights, was a Greek invention. Aspasia, mistress and Muse of Pericles was one of them. Could the Alien be an Alter Ego ?.
For the Frontiers, they are quite a recent innovation. Frontiers of Cities and Empires – the Limes (Frontiers of the Roman Empire) have being classed by the UNESCO – , of settlements, Frontiers of Utopia… What is our Heritage ? How do we consider the Other ?

The Barbarian, is, for the Greeks, the man (or woman), who doesn’t speak the same language and just stutters « bar-bar-bar » ; but the same Greeks think, like Isocrates (Panegyrics, IV, 48), that « We call Greeks people who participate to our culture ». At the time of the Romans, Barbarians are people, of German origin generally, invading the Empire, modifying the customs of Europe.  But a Barbarian could be also the Thracian Poet, Orpheus.
The « Alien » is the big theme of thrillers of today. The « Metoikos » – the Foreigner « living with » the others citizens, and having some rights, was a Greek invention. Aspasia, mistress and Muse of Pericles was one of them. Could the Alien be an Alter Ego ?.
For the Frontiers, they are quite a recent innovation. Frontiers of Cities and Empires – the Limes (Frontiers of the Roman Empire) have being classed by the UNESCO – , of settlements, Frontiers of Utopia… What is our Heritage ? How do we consider the Other ?

The Festival 2008

“The Exploration of the Universe : Tourism, War, Science”

(4-6 April 2008, NANTES)

Tourism: Ulysses, Herodotus and Xenophon were probably the first “tourists” (and reporters), exploring the world to learn more about what is to be human. And in Roman times, there was a defense of Leisure (Otium), a very modern concept of our today life ! Nowadays, you can earn a degree in “Tourism and Heritage” at university.

War: What is the definition of an enemy, the conception of the barbarian ? How would you define the (Last) Frontier ?

The Greeks (Achilleus with Priam in Homer’s Iliad, for example) invented the concepts of human rights and compassion, even pacifism. Greek and Roman law protected the weak and the poor.

Science and Technology : Where were all of these concepts invented: Technology, Philosophy, Science, Perspective, Science Fiction (Lucien and the Exploration of the Moon), Conquest and Utopia?

…inherited from Greece and Rome!

JUST NEW : “Focus on a Job” … when you have “just” a classical training or background ?

« Among the new features of 2008’s festival is a careers stand, aimed at communicating the message that studying Latin and Greek can open doors for job-seekers. With employers reporting a drastic decline in the standard of spoken and written French, knowledge of a classical language is increasingly being seen as a sign of being able to think clearly and construct an argument, campaigners say.

OTHER sectors where knowledge of classical civilisation is an advantage include tourism, advertising, pharmacy, video games and the film industry – where a spate of Hollywood hits, such as Troy and 300, have created a market for classical specialists. » Sunday Herald

« Organisers of the European Festival of Latin and Greek are trying to show that the languages are a gateway to understanding and wealth. They say advertisers and industrialists need speakers of ancient tongues to work on an increasing number of products, from perfumes to clothes, that have Latin names. « When the Chinese import a wine, for instance, they want it to evoke Europe – and that often means putting Latin on the label, » said Elizabeth Antébi, who founded the festival in Nantes. « I’m fed up with hearing that this is all elitist and does not lead to a job. » The Times

Each year, we invite famous examples of Entrepreneurship or of famous « people »  explaining their own career, following a classical training and background in Humanities. In 2008, we had very interesting exchanges of view between the President of an University of Tourism’s Ingeneering in France, Mr Bonneau from Angers, and two Portuguese teachers of Ancient Greek, teaching also a BA of « Tourisme, Leasure and Heritage » at the very famous University of Coimbra. Or an association of « Banlieue » (Suburbs) which will explain how Greek and Latin can drive you to a career of communication through the teaching of Rhetorics, to careers in the field of Law, or many other jobs.

Publicités