Stephen Greenblatt will deliver the 39th Annual Lecture in honor of Francis R. Walton. His talk is entitled


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"Religious Tolerance and the Twilight of the Ancient World."


Stephen Greenblatt’s lecture explores the invention of religious intolerance. The talk focuses on a late second century CE text, the Octavius of Menucius Felix, an elegant apology for Christianity which was suffering from persecution. The text’s defense of Christianity and its refutation of Epicureanism, contains the seeds of what was to come: the banning of all “superstitious” practices, the smashing of the statues, the padlocking of the temples, the absolute victory of the Cross, and of Christianity as the only “true” religion. 

About the Speaker:

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of 14 books, including Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics, The Rise and Fall of Adam and EveThe Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and The Norton Shakespeare. He was named the 2016 Holberg Prize Laureate. His honors include the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation.