Leventis Foundation opens a gateway to Greek culture
The Cyprus-based A G Leventis Foundation, a philanthropic group with a history of supporting educational and cultural initiatives at Cambridge, has made an outstanding gift to the University by endowing a Professorship of ancient Greek culture. The new A G Leventis Professorship of Greek Culture, made possible by the Foundation’s £2 million benefaction, is the first professorial post in Classics to have been endowed at Cambridge since World War II. It will focus on the study of more than 1,000 years of Greek cultural achievements, and will highlight the lasting influence they continue to have on society today. The post has been named in honour of the late Anastasios George Leventis, industrialist and philanthropist, whose provisions led to the creation of the Leventis Foundation in 1979.
The first post-holder will be Professor Paul Cartledge, a leading authority on the history of Greek political thought and practice, especially democracy; and on the societies and economies of Classical Greece (especially Sparta).
The Leventis Foundation has a long and proud tradition of benefactions to, and involvement with, the University of Cambridge. The late Constantine ("Dino") Leventis, a son of Anastasios Leventis, studied Classics at Clare College, where Professor Cartledge is a Fellow. Further demonstrating its commitment to Greek and Cypriot educational and cultural causes, the Foundation has established a graduate scholarship fund for Classics at Clare, and is providing funding for the completion of the Greek Lexicon project at Cambridge as well as for a series of graduate studentships in Modern Greek.
Commenting on the new post, and the opportunity the Foundation has given to the University, Professor Cartledge said, ‘It is a huge honour to be named the first A G Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge.
‘The culture of the ancient Greeks is a pillar of western civilisation; their political ideas, philosophy, scientific enquiry, historical writing and art not only broke new ground but have inspired those who followed in their wake, from the Romans through to the present day. A central part of my role will be spreading awareness of the rich heritage that they have passed down.’
As well as being an expert in the field, Professor Cartledge has an active role in popularising the study of Ancient Greece through books, television and radio appearances. He was a consultant on the 2007 box-office hit 300 - a gruesome depiction of the Spartan stand at the Battle of Thermopylae - by virtue of his (more accurate) book Thermopylae, The Battle That Changed The World.
Added: 5 November 2008