Sicily: Crossroads of Mediterranean Civilization

From the Sicali to the Phoenicians, from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Carthaginians to the Arabs, from the Goths to the Vandals, the island of Sicily has been a crossroads for ethnic groups moving through the Mediterranean or south from Central Europe. These various migrations left Sicily with a diverse cultural heritage, reflected in its architecture, fine arts, and music. This program will consider the most significant civilizations which established themselves on the island, from the Carthaginians to the present time.

Friday February 24, 2006

8:00 pm  Lecture   Crossroads of Civilization
In 850 BC the Carthaginians established trading ports in the west of Sicily at Palermo, Solunto and Mozia.Over the centuries most of the powers of the Mediterranean have laid some claim to parts or all of Sicily.Roy Willis an emeritus Professor of History from UC Davis will follow the threads through this fascinating tapestry.

9:00 pm  Lecture   Sicily at the Opera: Sicilian Life on the Operatic Stage
Sicily’s unique culture and history have been vividly reflected in operas written by, for, or about Sicilians. San Francisco Opera’s Musical Administrator Clifford (Kip) Cranna will examine how opera has mirrored the island’s colorful past. Video examples will highlight such masterpieces as Verdi’sThe Sicilian Vespers, and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry).

Saturday February 25, 2006

10:00 am  Lecture   Greek Buildings and Art
The Greeks who colonized Sicily from 735 BC to 413 left behind many great buildings, both civil and religious that are among the finest examples in Magna Graecia.Margaret Miles (UC Irvine) will help us discover these treasures.She will also present examples of other art forms that flourished in Sicily.

11:00 am  Lecture   The Norman Conquest
Arabo-Norman style combines elements from Islamic, Romenesque, and Byzantine art. Monuments of incomparable beauty were erected in this style. Anna Gonosova (UC Irvine) will showcase the great Sicilian examples of this period.

12:00 noon  Break for Lunch

1:30 pm  Lecture  The Trial of Plato in Syracuse
Plato was a guest in Syracuse in 388-387 BC. He was a friend of Dion, the brother-in-law and son-in-law of the ruler Dionysius I. However the ruler was not receptive to Plato’s utopian ideas.When Dionysius II succeeded his father, Plato returned to Sicily, where he again fell out of favor. George Hammond (San Francisco attorney and raconteur) will present The Trial of Plato in Syracuse.

2:10 pm  Lecture  Spanish Sicily: From the Sicilian Vespers to the Wars of
Spanish Succession
From 1300 to 1700 Spain ruled Sicily.Thomas Dandelet (UC Berkeley) will examine
the influence that Spanish rule had on Sicily.

3:00 pm  Lecture  Sicilian Literature and the Modern Age.
Much of Sicilian Literature is a mirror of modern Sicily. Roberto Dainotto (Duke) will explore the works of Sciascia, Lavagino, Camilleri, Vittorini, Consolo, and Maraini to present a view of Sicily during the past sixty years.

3:50 pm Panel Discussion
A conversation with the speakers from this program.


Kip Cranna, Musicology, SF Opera

Roberto Dainotto, Italian, Duke

Thomas Dandelet, History, UC Berkeley

Elisabeth Gleason, History, U of San Francisco

Anna Gonosova, Art History, UC Irvine

George Hammond, writer, Humanities West

Margaret Miles, archeology, Art History, UC Irvine

Roy Willis, History, UC Davis