The Fourteenth International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy opened last night in the great “Auditorium Maximum” of the Humboldt University in Berlin. The well-attended opening plenary session began with a series of welcoming remarks by Werner Eck (Chairman of the Organizing Committee), Stephen Mitchell (president of AIEGL), Jan-Hendrick Olbertz (President of Humboldt Univerity), Gunter Stock (President of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, and Ortwin Dally (General Secretary of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut).
The highlight of the session was an extended, scholarly narrative of the history of Greek and Latin epigraphic study in Berlin, delivered by Stefan Rebenich (Bern University) under the rubric “Berlin und die antike Epigrafik.” I learned much about the history of the discipline, and the formation and challenges faced over time by the great corpora (the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum and Inscriptiones Graecae). A key theme throughout Rebenich’s lecture was the effects of epigraphic study and scholarly community — negative at some periods, and positive at others — of national and international politics (and of politics both personal and institutional within the humanities).
This audience member, whose German experience lies almost wholly in the realm of reading and whose practice in same is rather rusty, greatly appreciated the model demonstrated by Prof. Eck and followed by Prof. Rebenich, of displaying the text of their remarks on-screen during the presentation.
The opening plenary was followed by a reception hosted by the publisher De Gruyter, which lasted well into the evening.