“Education was in fact the second liberation for these people. A free society is not based just on a foundation of laws, but also on full access to the highest elements of culture and learning.”

Dr. Michele Valerie Ronnick visited Trinity to deliver the annual Moore Lecture, which is intended to support the offerings in the ancient Greek language that the department of Classics offers.

Dr. Ronnick presented the many years of research that she’s done on African-Americans who studied ancient Greek in the late nineteenth century. Among the individuals that Dr. Ronnick discussed, William Sanders Scarborough is prominent. The first African-American member of the MLA (Modern Languages Association) and the third of the American Philological Association (now the SCS, the Society for Classical Studies), Scarborough was a model classicist, presenting several times at annual conferences on subjects as traditional as the grammar of a Greek text and as boundary-pushing as the reception of the Roman playwright Seneca by the French playwright Racine.

Dr. Caldwell recorded the lecture, and it’s now available on YouTube.

Thank you, Dr. Ronnick, for visiting us and for sharing your important research on this important aspect of the discipline of classics!

“That’s one of the things that stories and theater can do for us–shape our attitudes about what’s good, what’s bad, what we want to see, what we want to avoid, what we aim at.”

 On November 13 2017, Dr. Emily Katz Anhalt of Sarah Lawrence College spoke to us about violent Greek myths and their importance for our society today. Her 2017 book Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Greek Myths (Yale University Press), Anhalt re-tells and interprets stories from Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ tragedy Ajax, and Euripides’ tragedy Hecuba. She argues that these stories show the heavy tolls of violent behavior and led to the creation of democratic ideas in ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks represented the destructiveness of violent behavior to remind themselves of the danger inherent in that kind of attitude. But, Anhalt claims, our current attitude is very different. She points to the violent behavior that is the norm in modern media and the arrogance displayed on social media. Ancient Greece could solve our problems!

Dr. Caldwell recorded the lecture and it’s now available on YouTube.

Thank you for visiting us and sharing your insights about ancient and modern times, Dr. Anhalt. Her book is very readable and relatable: get it at Amazon or your favorite local bookseller!

The Film & History conference is an annual gathering of scholars who present the latest in research on the intersection of film and history. For several years now, Trinity Classics professors Dr. Meredith Safran and Dr. Vincent Tomasso have attended the conference and presented their work. In addition to giving talks, for the last three years Dr. Safran has also organized the classical antiquity area, a thematically-linked set of panels that typically number around 10!

The theme for this year’s conference was “home.” Dr. Safran examined this theme in Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid and in the science-fiction television series Battlestar Galactica. She argued that both Aeneas’ Trojans and Battlestar Galactica‘s Colonials must deal with the destruction of their homes in ways that reveal continuities between the two narratives. We’re looking forward to hearing more about Dr. Safran’s ideas when her book about the Aeneid and Battlestar Galactica is published soon!
Dr. Tomasso used the theme of “home” to examine how the 2017 film Wonder Woman erases the title character’s connections to the United States. Dr. Tomasso demonstrated how these links were prominent and explicit in the 1941 version of Wonder Woman, as well as how the film went out of its way to problematize American identity. Dr. Tomasso connected these changes to evolving ideas about the United States’ connection with classical antiquity.



Every year, publishers set up a table at the conference with books about the subject area available for purchase. This year, A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen (Blackwell 2017) was available. Dr. Safran has written a chapter for that book, entitled, “Greek Tragedy as Theater in Screen Media,” which examines how films adapt ancient Greek tragedies, such as Julie Taymor’s 1992 film version of Sophocles’ fifth-century BCE Oedipus the King.




So long for now, Wisconsin! See you next year!

Dr. Foster’s AIA lecture “Dionysos and Vesuvius in the Villa of the Mysteries”


“Our friend is not uncovering a phallus.”

Dr. Karen Polinger Foster of Yale University and Trinity College delivered an Archaeological Institute of America lecture on October 26 207 entitled, “Dionysos and Vesuvius in the Villa of the Mysteries.”

Her subject was a fresco on a wall in a house in the ruined Roman city of Pompeii. The common interpretation of that painting was that the figures are engaging in rituals related to the mystery cult of the god Dionsysus. The triangular shape between the two female figured had been interpreted as male genitalia, with the winged female figure on the right expressing shock.

Dr. Foster, however, re-interpreted the scene. She visited Pompeii and drew the scene herself. She now argues that the triangular shape is a cone of incense rather than a phallus.

Both students and community members enjoyed Dr. Foster’s dynamic lecture, which was held on the Trinity College campus in the McCook Building.

Dr. Lenski’s AIA lecture on Roman refugees!

Yesterday the department of Classics at Trinity had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Noel Lenski of Yale University for an AIA (Archaeological Institute of America) lecture. Dr. Lenski spoke to us about the Romans’ practices, assumptions, and pitfalls of settling refugees in their empire, particularly in the later Roman Empire. He also discussed modern parallels in the recent Syrian refugee crisis. Trinity faculty and students really enjoyed your talk, Dr. Lenski. Thank you!

My personal favorite slide featured a berserk Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan in the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian:

Edith Hamilton in Connecticut

Hamilton Header

On Wednesday May 31st 2017, the Classical Association of Connecticut (ClassConn) held an even to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the organization. This event took place in Hadlyme, CT at the Cove Cemetery, which is the final resting place of Edith Hamilton (1867-1963), an author renowned in Classics for her smashingly popular Mythology (1942), among other books about ancient Greece and Rome.

Hamilton 4Professors Risser, Safran, and Tomasso enjoyed the toast at Edith’s burial site, and then joined the sizeable ClassCon group for a short trip to the nearby Gillette Castle, where Professor Judith P. Hallett (below) of the University of Maryland spoke about Hamilton’s life and legacy.

Hamilton 3


Congrats to the Classics Seniors!

Yesterday at the 191st commencement of Trinity College, six Classics majors graduated. We’ll miss them, but hope they stay in touch!

Photo May 21, 12 04 48 PM



OLIVIA GIBSON (B.A., Classical Studies, International Studies: Global Studies, Religious Studies)




Photo May 21, 1 18 18 PM



GRACE GILL (B.A., with honors in Classical Studies, with honors in Sociology)




Photo May 21, 12 37 32 PM


MAURA GRIFFITH (B.A., cum laude, with honors in Interdisciplinary: Archaeobiology)





Photo May 21, 1 10 58 PM


JOY KIM (B.A., summa cum laude, with honors in Classical Studies with honors in Urban Studies)





HENRY MINOT (B.A., Classical Studies)

Photo May 21, 12 51 57 PM

MATTHEW REICHELT (B.A., summa cum laude, with honors in Classical Studies, [History])





Congratulations and best wishes for the future to all!

Senior Classics Presentations 2017

Last week, the four graduating Classics seniors presented their research projects in Seabury Hall. All of them did a fantastic job and gave the audience lots to chew on, both about the ancient and modern worlds.

Photo May 03, 3 26 53 PM

Grace Gill presents her research entitled, “The Sin of Skin: Color and ‘Other’ in the Graeco-Roman World.”



Grace Gill presented “The Sin of Skin: Color and ‘Other’ in the Graeco-Roman World”, which demonstrated the inter- and multi-disciplinary focus of her studies at Trinity. Grace’s double major in Classics and Sociology shined through her presentation of the Ethiopian Christian figure “Moses the Black.”





Photo May 03, 3 39 36 PM

Joy Kim presents her senior Classics thesis, “Female Patronage of Public Space in Roman Cities.”


Next up was Joy Kim, a double major in Classics and Urban Studies, who presented “Female Patronage of Public Space in Roman Cities.” She spoke about buildings in the Roman Empire that were funded by elite women, an honor often reserved for men.






Matt Reichelt presents his senior thesis project, "Cultural Reciprocity in Hellenistic Borsippa."

Matt Reichelt presents his senior thesis project, “Cultural Reciprocity in Hellenistic Borsippa.”


Matt Reichelt presented his interdisciplinary project, “Cultural Reciprocity in Hellenistic Borsippa.” Matt discussed Borsippa, part of the Hellenistic kingdom of the Seleucids, that is now in modern-day Iraq. His focus was on the ruler’s negotiations between Greek and the native cultures.



Photo May 03, 4 11 10 PM

Maura Griffith presents her senior thesis project, “‘Species Algarum’ in Translation.”


The last presenter was Maura Griffith, whose double major in Classics and Biology gave rise to her thesis project entitled, “Species Algarum in Translation.” Her work is an English translation of part of a work written in Latin in the 19th century about different types of algae. Amazingly, this work had never been translated into English, and Trinity scientists expressed much interest in Maura’s translation!

Congratulations to all our seniors!

Senior Classics Majors Presentations

2016 Senior Presentations 25On December 8th 2016 seniors in Trinity’s department of Classics presented the fruits of their research that they conducted in Dr. Gary Reger’s senior seminar.
1. Caroline Mann on the depiction of leaders in antiquity and at the present moment.
2. Grace Gill on racism in antiquity.
3.  Olivia Gibson on Italian dictator Mussolini’s use of the ancient Roman practice of the triumphal procession.
4. Joy Kim on elite Roman women in the public sphere.
5. Matthew Reichelt on the interactions between native cultures in Babylon and Uruk and Greek culture in the Hellenistic period.
6. Maura Griffith on the use of Latin in the nomenclature of a species of algae in the early nineteenth century.

Great job, everyone!