The classicist Richard Hingley wrote 'the Classical past retains a highly significant relationship to the present'. It is true that no cultural tradition develops in a vacuum and we are all influenced by those who have gone before us. The exhibition Maths, Politics and Concrete: The Legacy of the Classical World aims to highlight some of the influences that the ancient Greeks and Romans have had on western civilisation. Mathematics, democracy, medicine, literature, philosophy, law, architecture and engineering are just some of the areas where western cultural heritage owes much to classical Greece and Rome.

With the reintroduction of many ancient texts to Renaissance Europe, Classical Studies enjoyed a resurgence in the 14th century and consequently, in the 18th and 19th centuries it became central to, what was thought to be, a 'good' education. The latter part of the 20th century saw a decline in classical studies as part of mainstream education. Now, however, more than ever before, we have more resources and technology available that enable us to study and appreciate the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans and remind ourselves of some of our cultural roots.

From Homer's Odyssey and the nascent secular intellectualism of the early Greek philosophers, to the recipe for concrete and the perfection of archway construction, the Classical World has left a legacy which we now take for granted. The exhibition features works by, among others, Ovid, Apollonius, Archimedes, Xenophon and Marcus Aurelius – names not necessarily familiar to all but ones which have definitely shaped the past and are still very important today. Please enjoy yourself as you view volumes from Special Collections and take time to discover how the ancient world has impacted on yours.

Every effort has been made to contact copyright owners of the images displayed in this online exhibition. If any issues arise from their display, please contact Special Collections, University of Otago,

exhibition poster Exhibition poster (320K PDF)

exhibition handlist Exhibition handlist (2.2MB PDF)