The Violence of Words: Freedom of Speech in 5th Century BCE Athens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015 at 12:30 PM


Mutual Trust
Level 2 360 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions

Event contact

Alice Richardson

03 9224 5184

We are pleased to invite you to ‘The Violence of Words: Freedom of Speech in 5th Century BCE Athens’, a talk with Dr Heather Sebo on Tuesday 8 December at Mutual Trust.

Dr Sebo will treat us to an exploration of parrhesia, the unparalleled freedom of speech that prevailed in 5th Century BCE Athenian Democracy.


The Violence of Words: Freedom of Speech in 5th Century BCE Athens

A prominent Athenian politician named Cleon, smarting from merciless comic ridicule directed against all aspects of his life in a play called The Babylonians (now lost), initiated legal action. But the case was thrown out of court and the comic playwrights, as well as ordinary citizens, continued to practice unparalleled freedom of political and personal comment, an important democratic right known as parrhesia.

In this talk, Dr Heather Sebo will discuss the extraordinary valorising of unfettered speech in 5th Century BCE Athenian democracy, with particular reference to the work of the comic playwright Aristophanes.

Dr Heather Sebo completed her PhD in Classics at the University of Melbourne and currently lectures at La Trobe University. Her Ancient Greece podcast has been extremely popular, and she has given talks at Red Stitch Theatre and the NGV. Heather recently scripted and performed a remarkable season of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey for Melbourne’s Stork Theatre Company. She will conduct an ASA Literary Tour to Greece and Turkey in 2016.



Audience members who are keenly interested may like to peruse the following links, recommended by Dr Sebo (though by no means compulsory for attendance!):




Dr Heather Sebo on The Violence of Words: Freedom of Speech in 5th Century BCE Athens is on Tuesday 8 December 2015, 12:15pm to 2:00pm, at Mutual Trust (Level 32, 360 Collins Street)Tickets for Humanities 21 members are $25. Tickets for non-members are $35. There is a light lunch included. TICKETS HERE.



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$35.00 AUD · Purchase tickets


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Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
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