National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Bronwen Wickkiser

Affiliation: Wabash College

Bronwen Wickkiser is a Professor of Classics and the Department Chair at Wabash College. She is a specialist in ancient Greek history and culture, especially in the areas of medicine and religion. Her first book explores the appeal of healing deities in relation to the rise of Hippocratic medicine (Asklepios, Medicine, and the Politics of Healing in Fifth-Century Greece), while her second book examines the interrelation of sound, architecture, and music therapy in the sanctuary of a prominent healing god (The Thymele at Epidauros: Healing, Space, and Musical Performance in Late Classical Greece). She has also co-edited a book about Greek religion (Aspects of Ancient Greek Cult: Context – Ritual – Iconography).


At the edge of Arlington National Cemetery, in the center of a circle of graves belonging to Confederate soldiers, stands a huge bronze monument that most visitors never see. Dedicated in 1914, it is rife with motifs and quotations drawn from the Bible and from the Greek and Roman past that offer a nostalgic, sanitized view of the Lost Cause and of slavery. The monument is remarkable in its own right. But just as remarkable is the life of the man who designed it, a Jewish Confederate veteran named Moses Jacob Ezekiel who spent most of his career as a renowned artist in Rome where he was steeped in traditions of classical art and architecture. In this talk, we will look at the Confederate Memorial as well as the man behind it and will consider complex motivations, such as religious liberty, that resulted in a work of art that today is central to debates about the future of Confederate monuments.

At the center of a bustling sanctuary in southern Greece dedicated to the healing god Asklepios stood a mysterious building that continues to confound scholars. The building is remarkable for many reasons: large and circular in shape, with an underground labyrinth, it was constructed of marble and other lavish materials, incorporated exquisite decorative detail, and cost an enormous sum to build. Yet no surviving source reveals its function. We will explore the remains of this marvelous edifice within the context of the architecture and rituals of the surrounding sanctuary and will consider a function for the building that has recently been suggested by a team of international scholars: music therapy.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

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