About: Shelby Brown

I'm a classical archaeologist and classicist, who decided at age 11 while visiting Mayan ruins that the past was going to be my future. There's nothing more interesting than trying to see through the eyes of someone who lived thousands of years ago. (I also like science fiction, so ditto for thousands of years in the future.) I have spent most of my career teaching about the ancient Mediterranean world, and in 2011 I joined the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa as education specialist for academic and adult audiences. My research interests include Latin language and poetry, gender studies, violence in the ancient world, and ancient theater.

Posts by Shelby

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Getty Villa

Aeschylus’s Persian Queen: An Actor’s Craft

SITI Company rehearses Persians
In rehearsal: Ellen Lauren (foreground) as the queen of Persia; Will Bond (left) as the Messenger

Bringing alive an ancient queen. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

A Guide to Aeschylus’s “Persians”

Ellen Lauren as Persian Queen Atossa against a backdrop of golden drapery
Play in progress: Ellen Lauren as Persian Queen Atossa against a backdrop of golden drapery. Photo: Sara Radamacher

A theater-goer’s guide to the western world’s oldest play. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities

Beware the Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March / Julius Caesar
Consult a good soothsayer before heading out this weekend. Artwork: Portrait of Julius Caesar (detail) from the Forum of Trajan, Rome. National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Inv. 6038. Photo: S. Sosnovskiy, 2008

If the sacrificial liver looks bad, stay home…and other soothsaying wisdom from ancient Rome. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Seven Ways of Seeing “Lion Attacking a Horse”

Lion Attacking a Horse / Greek
Lion Attacking a Horse, Greek, 325–300 B.C.; restored in Rome in 1594. Marble, 150 x 250 cm. Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale—Musei Capitolini

In August, the Greek sculpture Lion Attacking a Horse flew over the back wall of the Getty Villa and took up residence in our Atrium. We have now lived with the sculpture for over three months, and are already lamenting… More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Education, Getty Villa

Reclining and Dining (and Drinking) in Ancient Rome

A Roman Feast / Roberto Bompiani

The ancient Greeks had a recumbent approach to their (male-only) dinner parties, as I discussed in a previous post: elite men reclined, propped on pillows, to drink, converse, and—sometimes—overindulge. The practice of reclining and dining continued into ancient Rome, but… More»

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Posted in Antiquities, Behind the Scenes, Education, Getty Villa

Reclining and Dining (and Drinking) in Ancient Greece

Getty Villa docent Don Petersen reclines on his left side, elbow raised on a stack of pillows, with his right knee bent. He holds a skyphos, a common stemless drinking cup.

Elite Greeks and Romans reclined to dine, and ordinary people copied them when they could. Although the practice seems strange to us, it must have been both comfortable and convenient, since reclining during meals spread throughout the Mediterranean and survived… More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Education, J. Paul Getty Museum

The Seven Plagues of the Ancient Roman City Dweller

Evening traffic along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, near the Getty Villa
It's nothing new: Gridlock and bad air, A.D. 2009. Photo: Eric Demarq, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Think city living is a struggle today? The ancient Romans had it just as tough, giving their poets plenty to complain about Roman poetry is filled with entertaining rants against urban evils, which I revisited with glee while preparing for… More»

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      What did death mean in Ancient life?

      An exhibition that looks at death and funerary practice through thirteen elaborate Apulian vases from Southern Italy now on view in Dangerous Perfection: Funerary Vases from Southern Italy!

      Funerary Vessel , South Italian, from Apulia, 340-310 B.C., terracotta red-figured volute krater< attributed to the Phrixos Group. Image © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung. Photo: Johannes Laurentius

      Funerary Vessel, South Italian, from Apulia, 350-325 B.C., terracotta red figured amphora attributed to the Darius Painter (the Hecuba Sub-Group).Image © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung. Photo: Johannes Laurentius

      11/22/14

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