“Auld Greekie: the Athens of the North” with Dr Iain Gordon Brown

“Auld Greekie: the Athens of the North” with Dr Iain Gordon Brown

Join us for a talk by Dr Iain Gordon Brown on his new book examining
the artistic and architectural dimensions, as well as the social and
philosophical ones, of the story of Edinburgh’s brief self-identification
as ‘the Athens of the North’.

Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Online & in-person at Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
Cost: £6 / £2 for students
Booking: In-person and online tickets can be purchased here on Eventbrite

In the years between about 1810 and 1840, Edinburgh – long known as ‘Auld Reekie’ – came to think of itself and to be widely regarded as something else. The city became ‘the Modern Athens’, an epithet later turned into ‘the Athens of the North’.

Dr Iain Gordon Brown‘s book, and this lecture, examine the circumstances underlying a remarkable change in perception of a place and an age.

Many Edinburgh citizens thought and spoke of themselves as ‘Modern Athenians’. In doing so, they laid themselves open to much ridicule, ranging from fairly benign satire to downright hostility and astonishing vituperation. The opposition to the notion of a ‘Greek’ Edinburgh is studied – both in terms of civic consciousness, and in the physical expression of that ideal (to many perceived as alien and un-Scottish) through the elegant and scholarly Greek Revival style of architecture and design.

Edinburgh of the late Enlightenment may well have been thought of, for one reason or another, as ‘Athenian’. But, in essence, it remained what it had always been. Maybe, however, for a brief period it was really a sort of hybrid city: ‘Auld Greekie’.

Download the full programme of lectures here