What can we learn from the Ancient Greeks today?

Wednesday 27 February 2013 –Great Hall, Hellenic Centre, London

University of Exeter scholars illuminated the background of the current financial crisis and the contemporary usefulness of ancient Greek healthcare methods. The event featured two short lectures followed by discussion by scholars from the University of Exeter, bringing out key insights from ancient Greece for modern society.

Organised by the University of Exeter and the Hellenic Centre, the event formed part of the Initiative on the Impact of Greek Culture in the ancient and modern world, which is sponsored by the A. G. Leventis Foundation.


Professor Richard Seaford

Professor Richard Seaford: ‘Money: from its invention by the Greeks to the crisis of today’

The first society in history to be monetised was the ancient Greek polis. And so the Greeks – unlike us – did not take money for granted, and so could sometimes see the nature of money more clearly than we can. Though aware of it convenience, they were also shocked by its impact. They noted its tendency to replace all other values, and its unlimitedness: one can have enough of just about everything, but not of money, and this insatiability is, they believed, both unnatural and potentially destructive of society. Something like the ancient Greek culture of limit is precisely what we need if we are to avert economic crises and environmental catastrophe.

Professor Chris Gill

Professor Christopher Gill: ‘Healthcare and wellbeing: can the ancient Greeks help us?’

World-wide concern about the massive rise in obesity and depression, among other conditions, is leading people to look again at preventive medicine and the role of a healthy life-style. The ancient Greeks had highly developed ideas on this subject, including Galen’s ‘six-factor’ method for maintaining a healthy and balanced life. Classics scholars at Exeter have been exploring the usefulness of the Greek (especially Galenic) method under modern conditions, and are working with medical experts and community health groups to see what contribution the ancient approach can make to modern problems. This presentation sets out current work in this area and its larger implications.

Download Professor Gill’s Paper (93KB)

Download Professor Chris Gill’s Slides (PDF 14.1MB)

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