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 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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      Grab a glass (and some for your friends), it’s International Beer Day

      "Welcome to my houseput me to your lips and drink me drydon’t take contentment away.” Inscription on Filigrana Beaker

      Ewer, Chinese porcelain 1662 - 1722, French mounts 1700 - 1710. J. Paul Getty Museum.
      Goblet with the Arms of Liechtenberg, 1500 - 1530, Probably Bohemian. J. Paul Getty Museum.
      Ice-glass Beaker, late 1500s or early 1600s, Dutch. J. Paul Getty Museum.
      Covered Filigrana Beaker (Stangenglas),1550-1600, mount about 1710-1712. J. Paul Getty Museum.

      08/01/14

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