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Judith Hallett: Latin literary portrayals of Phoenician female speech and their American legacy: Plautus’ Phoenicium, Vergil’s Dido, Emma Lazarus and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ginsburg's casket at the top of the Supreme Court steps, flanked by two guards.

When: Monday, May 2, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM Central

Where: Harris Hall, 108, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Upenieks  

Group: Department of Classics

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings


My paper first examines the Latin literary portrayals of two fictional women—both described as what ancient Greeks and Romans called “Phoenician,” and what we today term “Semitic”— to consider what their distinctive modes of self-expression imply about Roman views of the relationship between gender and Phoenician ethnicity. It then reflects on the similarities between ancient Roman representations of how these women speak, persuasively, to male audiences, and actual, literary and legal, verbal communications of two American Jewish women, whom we term “Semitic”: the poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in 1849 and died, at the age of 38, in 1887; and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was born in 1933, and died in 2020.

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