Profs and Pints presents: “The Emperors Had No Clothes,” a look at epic political satire in ancient Rome and India, with Shubha Pathak, historian of religions and associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University.
Speaking truth to power always has been a tricky business, often handled most deftly by those skilled at political satire. Back in ancient Rome or India, however, the penalty for offending a ruler was far worse than a mere angry tweet. To ensure they could live to lampoon again, those delivering comedic commentary needed to be much more cryptic than their contemporary counterparts on Saturday Night Live or the Colbert Report. Among the most strategic court comedians were epic poets tasked with praising their powerful employers. But to blame them in the same breath, those authors used myths to relay truths that their rulers did not want to hear.
Come hear the work of crafty mythmakers discussed by Professor Pathak, author of Divine Yet Human Epics: Reflections of Poetic Rulers from Ancient Greece and India and editor of Figuring Religions: Comparing Ideas, Images, and Activities. Having captivated a Profs and Pints audience last summer with her talk on “Epic Life Lessons,” she’ll take the stage at La Pop cultural salon again to discuss the steamier and seamier sides of Greco-Roman and Indian mythology in a talk about the interconnections between politics and romance, sex, and art.
Her talk will examine how the most subtle imperial lampooners of ancient Rome and India couched their critiques within epic myths whose heroes followed their hearts and appealed to the gods rather than following custom and heeding those in charge. She’ll show how classical myths of unlikely love and rampant lust fulfilled their authors’ aims to shake up predominating ways of leading and living. After hearing her speak, you never again may take a leader’s love story at face value, no matter what their official statements or spokespeople have to say.
Advance tickets available at https://profspintsovid.brownpapertickets.com