Imagine how excited I was to return to the Classics Department of the University of Texas at Austin, and more specifically, to the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) – the place where I had spent so many happy, albeit generally somewhat stressful, years working toward my doctoral degree (which I received in 2002). Thanks to the support awarded to me as part of a competitive grant from my current institution, Macquarie University, where I am happily ensconced in its research-rich and remarkably collegial Ancient History Department, I was able to spend a week (13-20 September) delving into the resources that attract so many international visitors to PASP. I am working on a book entitled Mycenaean Religion: The Creation and Expression of a Society’s Ideology, and it seemed like a good week of solid work in PASP would benefit my project immensely. Of course, having that time to consult with Tom Palaima, the co-director of my thesis (with Cynthia Shelmerdine) and now my long-time mentor and friend, was really the greatest draw, and, as I had anticipated, the time spent with Tom was the highlight of my trip.
As I had arrived on a weekend, we had to start off with a stop in The Little Longhorn Saloon where we got to listen to some of that classic honky tonk music that just can’t be found outside of Texas. I was tempted to try the two-step! But the better idea was to get over to Kerbey Lane for some of those gingerbread pancakes that I had been dreaming of for years. It was Joann Gulizio and her partner Ralph who got me there, and pretty much everywhere else that I went for the rest of the trip. I want to say here how amazing they both are, and what fun we had choosing where we would eat every night. But of course there was lots of work that got done as well – my discussions with Joann on Mycenaean religion were extremely productive – I’m already doing some research for an article that Joann and I will be working on together.
It was also a great pleasure for me to teach in the Linear B class that Tom and Joann are co-teaching. For one of the seminars Tom invited me to present my latest ideas on the possibility that the wanax who appears in the Fr tablets receiving offerings of perfumed oil is actually an ancestral wanax whose worship had been incorporated into Late Helladic Mycenaean religion. It was phenomenal to see so many students interested in learning Linear B and working in PASP.
Not surprisingly, I found that the department (like Austin), had changed quite a bit! But of course there were still several familiar faces, including Paula Perlman, Lesley Dean-Jones, Steve White, and Andrew Riggsby. I was fortunate enough to have lengthy talks about my research with all of them. I was also glad of the chance to talk with Garrett Bruner, the archivist extraordinaire who is helping to organize and conserve the valuable resources that PASP houses. And I want to thank Khoa Tran and Vanessa Noya for welcoming me and helping me with all the things that one finds one doesn’t know how to do in a new place!
After my time in Austin, I took a trip down to San Antonio, where I had been invited by Corinne Pache and fellow PASPian Nicolle Hirschfeld to teach in Corinne’s Homer seminar and to give a talk that was co-hosted by Trinity University and the Archaeological Institute of America’s San Antonio chapter. For an audience of around one hundred interested people, I presented the basics of Linear B studies, and then, using that as a foundation, I discussed the more specific ideas I have concerning the Mycenaean worship of an ancestral wanax. The level of engagement of this predominantly non-academic audience was reflected in the large number and high quality of their questions. It was a great night. And it was made even greater by the fact that Corinne and I were able to celebrate the imminent appearance (November 2019!) of the volume that we have been working on (with Bob Lamberton and Casey Due) for nearly four years – the new Cambridge Guide to Homer. This volume was Corinne’s brainchild, and she invited me to serve as the associate editor for the section “The Homeric World.” It will be quite gratifying to see this published, particularly as I was able to involve Tom Palaima and two other PASPians, Dimitri Nakassis and Stephie Nikoloudis, as writers of a few of its essays.
After this trip, which was both so productive and so full of good feeling, I sincerely hope to be able to return before too much time has passed.
Updated on November 11, 2019 by Garrett R. Bruner. firstname.lastname@example.org