Classics Society – Talking Textiles

Posted: 31st January 2023

Classics Society

Last Thursday, we were delighted to welcome Dr Albert Bates to speak to the members of Classics Society. Entitled ‘Talking Textiles’, his presentation focused on poem 64 by Catullus. This poem is partly famous for its detailed depiction of a tapestry, featuring the myth of Ariadne and Theseus. First, he discussed the phenomenon of synaesthesia – a condition in which senses are experienced in an unusual way. For example, you might see numbers or sounds as colours.Then Dr Bates elaborated on how Catullus uses synaesthetic, sensory descriptions in order to evoke the sights and sounds of the tapestry, bringing them vividly to life.Ariadne, although a stitched image, hears the waves crashing against the shore, feels the breeze in her hair, and even starts to speak, cursing Theseus for abandoning her. Dr Bates argued that through synaesthesia Catullus is able to show the connection between different artistic media, both visual and textual. The students asked some fascinating questions and we are hugely grateful to Dr Bates for taking the time to come and talk to us.