Thursday 27 November 2014


The first item of today´s news concerns recent information on the Warburg Institute, a new development relating to the entry posted on this blog on 10th November.

The Warburg Institute Advisory Council has written an open letter to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of London in which they entreat the University not to appeal against the recent court judgment. In particular, the Council points to the outcome of the litigation, which both sides have called satisfactory, as well as to the substantial costs that further court proceedings would entail.

Therefore, the Institute proposes to use the help of a suitable mediator in order to “end the dispute and agree a way to deal with matters in the future”.
To read the full letter, please visit the Warburg Institute´s website


Secondly, we would like to share with you a piece of classical literature being revived in the 21st century.

Please notice that FIEC does not try to convey any sort of political message by posting this item!

On Thursday, the twentieth of November, US Senator Ted Cruz held a speech in the Senate criticizing President Obama. What makes this seemingly ordinary matter interesting is the fact that Cruz used Cicero´s first oration against Catiline as a model and, indeed, adhered to the original to a relatively high degree.

Please see for yourself if you deem the Senator´s adaptation worthy of Cicero´s probably best known political work. Following the link, you will find a visual as well as a written version of the speech, the latter one displaying all changes made by Cruz.

Thursday 20 November 2014


We are delighted to inform you that the devastating budget cuts to humanities, proposed by the Swedish government, have been averted. Thus, the funding of the Swedish Mediterranean Institutes at Athens, Rome, and Istanbul has been saved, enabling them to continue their significant and diversified work. We express sincere congratulations and our heartfelt thanks to all of you, who contributed to the protests!

Please read this email from our Swedish colleagues, showing their gratitude:

Dear friends,
To all of you who signed the petition against the closing down of the Swedish Institutes at Athens, Rome and Istanbul we want to express our sincerest gratitude. Today, to our great relief, the Swedish government officially announced that they will NOT cut our funding. The massive protests from the international scholarly community certainly contributed greatly to this result and on behalf of the Swedish Institutes at Athens, Rome and Istanbul we thank you all deeply.

Jenny Wallensten & Jenni Hjohlman

Tuesday 11 November 2014


Today´s news contains the latest information on the legal dispute between the Warburg Institute and the University of London, which the research institution with its extensive library has been associated with since 1944 (for the relevant historical background, please see the press release below). The court has ruled in favour of the Institute, but the University might still appeal.

The disagreement on financial matters was constituted by two main points: Firstly, the fact that the Institute has been running “a reported £500,000 annual deficit”1 for a number of years, and secondly, the result that the University of London “more than doubled an estates charge on the institute in 2007-08”2.

Due to the financial pressure put on the Institute, apprehensions have been expressed that the approximately 350,000 volumes of the Warburg collection might be divided up among the Senate House Library, a process which might also mean that most volumes would cease to be available to researchers from all over the world. Instead, a conventional “book-by-request” system would probably be introduced. Furthermore, a court defeat might lead the relocation of the collection to Germany or to the US1.

Taking into account the Institute´s positive reaction to the court judgment, you may be surprised to learn that the university claimed the “judge has found in favour of the university on almost every point that was of importance to us”2. Here, the spokesperson is referring to funding granted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England which, as the judge decided, does not belong to Warburg, but to the University alone.

1. Grove, Jack (19 June 2014). "Warburg Institute: library saved from Nazis awaits its fate". Times Higher Education. , 10 November 2014.

2. Grove, Jack (6 November 2014). “Warburg Institute court judgment handed down”. Times Higher Education. , 10 November 2014.)

See below to read about the court´s recent decision and visit for further information.


Warburg Institute safe as High Court rules contents not the property of University of London

6th November 2014

To the benefit and relief of scholars worldwide, the High Court has rejected the University of London’s claims that all additions to the Warburg Institute since 1944 belong to the University, and instead agreed that they form part of the Institute. Furthermore, the judge, Mrs Justice Proudman, held that the University is obliged to provide funding for the activities of the Warburg Institute.

Leticia Jennings of Bates Wells Braithwaite, who advised the Advisory Council of the Warburg Institute, commented: “This decision ensures that the wealth of important material housed within the Institute will remain available, as before, in its entirety, and that the University will not be free to in any way restrict the access of the many scholars who use and rely on the Institute’s outstanding resources.”

The Institute grew out of the private library of the art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), who collected books in art history, literature, intellectual history, religion and the history of science and magic. As a Jewish institution based in Germany, the Institute was forced to close, and its very existence was threatened by the Nazi-organised book-burnings of April 1933. To escape destruction, the entire library of 60,000 books, as well as photographs, papers and furniture, were shipped to the safe-haven of London in December 1933. Many of the Institute’s staff also transferred to London.

After years of negotiation involving members of the Warburg Family, the University of London, distinguished scholars and philanthropists, the University of London became trustee of the Warburg Institute, to hold it on charitable trust pursuant to the terms of a 1944 Trust Deed*.The Institute has since grown into a world class teaching and research institute, much respected and sought after by academics worldwide.

The Trust Deed obliges the University to maintain and preserve the Warburg library in perpetuity, to house it, and to keep it adequately equipped and staffed as an independent unit. Leticia Jennings stated: “The contemporaneous evidence leading up to the signing of the Trust Deed shows that the transfer to the University of London was on the condition that the University accepted these obligations. This judgment has confirmed that the University must maintain the Institute as ‘an independent unit’, and that the University is not entitled to use the name and prestige associated with the Warburg Institute to obtain funds, but to then apply those funds to the University’s general purposes.”

In recent years the University had charged a proportion of its total estate expenditure to the Warburg Institute, meaning that the once solvent Institute was left with a significant deficit as it was used, in effect, to subsidise the University’s corporate property. The judge held that the University’s conduct in this regard is not permissible and “flies in the face” of the terms of Trust Deed.

The judge also clarified the important role of the University in relation to housing the Warburg Institute: whilst the University continues to own the building at Woburn Square, it has a binding obligation to house the Institute in a suitable building close to the University centre in Bloomsbury.

Despite the judge’s clear ruling, following a very detailed review of the evidence, the University has decided to seek permission to appeal.

In response to the judgment, Librarian and Acting Director of the Institute, Dr Raphaële Mouren, commented: “Whilst I am very pleased that this judgment appears to mean that the intellectual resources of the Warburg Institute, including its world renowned library, will be preserved for future generations of scholars working in the humanities, I am very disappointed that the University has decided to focus on an appeal. I very much hope it will reconsider, and commit to working with us to strengthen the Institute for the benefit of the academic community and enhancing our corpus of scholars.”

The Chairman of the Advisory Council, Professor Margaret McGowan, commented: “The Advisory Council was pleased to receive the judgment representing years of hard work, and had hoped that the University would agree to enter into discussions and begin to work together in the best interests of the Institute and the University. We are frustrated that the University appears to wish to continue to spend its time and money on furthering the legal dispute rather than find a solution to secure the Warburg Institute’s long-term future. The Advisory Council remains very grateful for the immense support it has received regarding this matter, in particular from the American Friends of the Warburg Institute and from The Polonsky Foundation, without whom its successful defence of the matter would not have been possible.”

Monday 3 November 2014

The latest information about the proposed budget cuts in Sweden and Denmark

Today´s news contains three different items. Firstly, we would like to share with you the latest information on the proposed budget cut in Sweden, which would cause the Mediterranean Institutes at Athens, Rome, and Istanbul to close down. Secondly, you are asked to sign a petition against another alarming budget cut and thus to help save sufficient funding for Humanities in Denmark. Lastly, we would like to inform you about some useful digital tools and websites concerning Classics.


There are two new web addresses that might be interesting to those of you who use digital tools for Classics.

The first one, a list to discuss digital tools, is managed by J. L. Rosenberg who writes: "If you would like to join, please e-mail"

Secondly, there is the “Digital Forum Romanum”, a project run by the Winckelmann-Institute of the Humboldt-University Berlin, which uses modern technology to digitally reconstruct the historical Forum Romanum. If you are interested, please visit:


Dear Colleagues
          May I encourage you to sign this petition against devastating cuts in the humanities in Denmark?
          With all best wishes    Stephen Harrison, Oxford

More information in English:


This is to provide some background information about the plans for closing the Swedish research institutes in Athens, Istanbul and Rome.

A few weeks ago, the Swedish people elected its new government. The new minister of Higher Education and Research is called Helene Hellmark Knutsson.
On Wednesday, 22.10.2014 the budget proposal for the next year was published. In the section on research it was briefly announced that the department would save 10 million Swedish kronor in 2016 and another 12 in 2017, consisting in the withdrawal of support for the three Swedish Institutes. The chairperson of the board of the Institutes was informed by telephone the day before the budget proposal was launched. This development, however, does not take take place without resistance from wide parts of the Swedish and the international society. It has been criticized that there was neither an adequate discussion, nor a proper analysis of the consequences.
Immediately, a petition was started; after only 24 hours the number of signatures was already over 3.000. The present number of 12.800 is constituted by subscribers from many different countries. All the major Swedish newspapers, including those not usually reporting on humanities and culture, showed interest in the subject. Carl Bildt, the former minister of foreign affairs in the government which just resigned, has signed the list and written an article in one of the largest Swedish newspapers. The minister in question was interviewed in a program where Ida Östenberg, who is an Ancient Historian and one of the most important supporters of the protest, was also interviewed. Consequently, the minister was put under pressure to consider re-evaluating the decision.
It is now possible or even likely that the government is going to withdraw the suggestion: The minister claims that “this was just a proposal, not a decision”.

The petition is still available online: