Author Archives: vtomasso

Congratulations to 2020 Eta Sigma Phi Inductees!

In spring 2020, Zeta Kappa, Trinity’s chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, inducted a record 20 students! Eta Sigma Phi is an honorary organization, chartered in 1914 with ancient Greek motto φιλοσοφοῦμεν καὶ φιλοκαλοῦμεν, which means, “We are lovers of wisdom and beauty!” It recognizes undergraduate student achievement in ancient Greek and/or Latin taken at the college level.

The 2020 Zeta Kappa initiates were George Adams (a junior majoring in Classical Studies and winner of a Goodwin Prize in Advanced Greek), Jacob Armentrout (a first-year student and winner of the Notopoulos Prize in First-Year Latin), Ansel Burn (a senior who majored in Anthropology), ,James Calabresi (a senior who majored in Theater & Dance), Jane Fantozzi (a first-year student), Ben Gambuzza (a senior who double-majored in Music and English), Whitney Hall (a senior who double-majored in Religious Studies and in Classical Studies), David Marottolo (a junior double-majoring in Music and Classical Studies and winner of the Notopoulos Prize in Intermediate Latin), Bailey McKeon (a junior majoring in Philosophy), Erin Molchan (a junior majoring in Sociology),  Kristen Morissette ( a graduating senior who double-majored in Classical Studies and in American Studies), Nick Price (a first-year student), Sophie Priddy (a senior who majored in Anthropology), Zac Schurman (a sophomore majoring in Music and in Religious Studies and winner of the Goodwin First-Year Greek prize), Keith Tanner (a first-year student and winner of the William Prize for First-Semester Greek), Peter Teel (a junior majoring in Philosophy and winner of the Title Prize in Intermediate Latin), Ananya Usharani Ravishankar (a junior majoring in Philosophy and winner of a Goodwin Prize in Advanced Greek),  Jessica Weiss (a senior who double-majored in Political Science and Classical Studies), Kyre William-Smith (a junior double majoring in Classical Studies and in English), and Ondra Zindr (a senior who majored in Neuroscience). A big χάριν ἔχω (ancient Greek for “thank you”) to Trea Mannello, who graduated from Trinity this year, was Zeta Kappa’s President for 2019-2020, and was instrumental in recruiting this year’s crop of initiates.

Eta Sigma Phi’s coat of arms. emblazoned with, on the upper right-hand side, a lamp that represents the light of learning; on the lower-hand side, a pyramid that represents antiquity. The ancient Greek phrase Φρόνις ἐστί δύναμις appears on the bottom, meaning “Thought is power.”

Trinity’s Classical Studies graduates 2020!

Spring 2020 was a very difficult semester, but four students majoring in Classical Studies rose to meet the challenge and graduated!
Whitney Hall graduated with majors in both Classical Studies and Religious Studies. This year, she was inducted into Eta Sigma Phi, in addition to being a leader in Trinity’s Life Design fellowship. She was a participant in Dr. Risser’s on-going excavation project in Akko, Israel in 2019. In the future, she looks forward to pursuing her interest in digital marketing.
Trea Mannello was Classical Studies’ Presidential Scholar for 2019-2020 and President of Zeta Kappa, Trinity’s chapter of the honorary undergraduate society Eta Sigma Phi. She graduated with majors in Classical Studies and in Anthropology.
Kristen Morisette
was inducted into Eta Sigma Phi in 2020. She graduated with majors in Classical Studies and American Studies.
Jessica Weiss graduated with majors in Classical Studies in an Political Science (cum laude). which she found complemented one another: “Through my coursework in both fields, I obtained a more holistic view of the origins of democracy, political philosophy, and the key themes and motives of war.” She wrote her senior thesis about the behavior of the mortal king Tantalus, who was punished by the gods for attempting to feed them his own son! She was inducted into Eta Sigma Phi. We wish her the best at her new job at as a corporate paralegal at Simpson, Thacher, & Bartlett, LLP in NYC. In the future, she intends to attend law school, for which knowledge of the classical world (especially Latin) will benefit her.

Senior Dinner 2019!

On Wednesday May 1 2019, Profs. Safran, Risser, and Tomasso took the graduating Classical Studies majors to dinner at V’s Trattoria in downtown Hartford. Much fun and frivolity was had over good food good drinks, and good companions. Congratulations, 2019 seniors!

Zeta Kappa Initiation 2019!

On Thursday May 2 2019, Trinity College’s chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, Zeta Kappa, formally inducted ten new members!

Eta Sigma Phi is a national honorary association for undergraduate students who have received a “B-” or higher in at least one Greek or Latin course at the college level.

The ten new members included three students set to graduate this month, as well as seven students from the sophomore and junior classes.

The initiation began with a super-secret ritual in the chapel room of Seabury Hall that was followed by a celebration with minidonuts from Tastease and orange juice. Congratulations, Zeta Kappa “class” of 2019!

Amazons at Trinity!

In the spring semester of 2019, Prof. Tomasso taught a course (CLCV 249/FILM 249/WMGS 249) about the female warriors called Amazons. The course, “Amazons Then & Now” compared ancient Greek and Roman depictions of Amazons in literature and art to modern takes on them.  We read selections from epic poems, like Quintus of Smyrna’s Posthomerica, from philosophical treatises, like Musonius Rufus’ On Why Daughters Should Be Educated as Sons, to drama, like Euripides’ tragedy Hippolytus.

We had the good fortune to be visited by two experts on ancient depictions of Amazons. The first visitor was Prof. Lauren Caldwell, who spoke to us about the place of the Amazons in ancient Roman thought. We discussed, among other things, the funerary monument of Aelia Procula, a Roman girl who died in childhood and was depicted with Amazonian iconography: one of her breasts is exposed and she carries a bow (see image to the left). Our second visitor was Prof. Alison Poe, who spoke about the Amazons in the 1963 children’s book The Book of Greek Myths by the d’Aulaires (below).


Each ancient depiction of Amazons was paired with a modern depiction, and so we talked about how the portrayals of Amazons in modern media, such as the BBC/Netflix series Troy: Fall of a City. We also discussed the super heroine Wonder Woman, an Amazon whose mission it is to bring justice and peace to the mortal world. Wonder Woman’s look and narrative have changed quite dramatically over the years, and the class talked about how and why this happened. Student Mary Papantonis noticed the (probably conscious) resemblance between the inspirational image of Wonder Woman drawn by artist Cliff Chiang and a 1963 photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. (above).

Ancient Science Fiction and U2 (?) @ Trinity!

Illustration from a 1647 Dutch edition of A True Story showing the people of the Moon and the people of the Sun at war for the right to colonize the Morning Star, their aerial battle taking place on an enormous battlefield woven by giant spiders – Source (NB: not openly licensed, copyright British Library)

This semester, spring 2019, Prof. Tomasso taught a intermediate/advanced ancient Greek course about the ancient novel A True Story (GREK 332) and its relationship to modern science fiction.

On a sunny, warm afternoon in April, Prof. Tomasso and his students held class outside. ‘Neath the shady elms, they discussed Book 1 section 13 in which the narrator describes a decidedly odd contingent of the Moon King Endymion’s military forces: the Ἀνεμοδρόμοι.

What exactly were these beings? Lucian’s narrator describes them as light-armed infantry who wore chitons down to their feet and flew by letting the wind fill these chitons (χιτῶνας ποδήρεις ὑπεζωσμένοι κολπώσαντες αὐτοὺς τῷ ἀνέμῳ καθάπερ ἱστία φέρονται ὥσπερ τὰ σκάφη). We discussed various translations of Ἀνεμοδρόμοι, including the suggestion of the editors of our textbook, Evan Hayes and Stephen Nimis, “Wind Walkers”, and the translation by A. M. Harmon in his 1913 Loeb translation, “Volplaneurs.”

“Volplaneurs” is French for “Wind Walkers,” but why did Harmon choose to use French here? Perhaps this was intended to be a nod to the great French science-fiction writer of the nineteenth century, Jules Verne!

This sparked a comment by student George Adams about how Bono, the lead singer of the band U2, played a concert at Trinity in 1983 before the band was a household name. Bono climbed to the top of the Life Sciences Building and ziplined down. This is featured in an edition of Trinity Tripod article (below). Bono must have been what Lucian had in mind when he came up with the Ἀνεμοδρόμοι!

Classical Studies at APS 2019!

Profs. Lauren Caldwell of the History and Classical Studies departments and Prof. Vincent Tomasso of the Classical Studies department were invited to participate in the 2019 annual meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society.

Prof. Caldwell introduced Friday’s keynote speech by Prof. Denise McCoskey of the Miami University of Ohio, entitled, “Race, Reception, and Re-Contextualizing Athenian Democracy” (the image above is an ancient Greek vase depicting slaves, which Prof. McCoskey chose to illustrate her talk in the program). Prof. Tomasso provided a formal commentary on a paper delivered on Thursday by Dr. Jessica Decker of CSU-San Marcos entitled: “I Will Tell a Double Tale: Double Speak in the Ancient Greek Poetic Tradition.”

Prof. Caldwell’s Role-Immersive Rome!

In her spring 2019 course HIST 226: The Rise & Fall of the Roman Republic, Prof. Lauren Caldwell of the History and Classical Studies departments, incorporated a role-immersive game. Her course was on the ancient Roman Republic, and she incorporated a game crated by Bowdoin professor Michael D. Nerdahl. In the above image, the elected censors Claudius Marcellus and Valerius Flaccus announce the results of their census to members of the Senate.

Professor Caldwell presented the results of her role-immersive game experiment in the Center for Teaching & Leaning Fellows panel “Pedagogies of Empathy”:


2019 Seniors Present!

On April 23rd 2019 senior undergraduates in Trinity’s Classical Studies department presented their year-long research projects. Prof. Meredith Safran of Classical Studies mentored them.


Morgan Hallow’s project, “Honest Ovid: Ovid’s Presence in Shakespeare’s As You Like It” examined the influence of the Roman poet Ovid’s love poetry on the English playwright William Shakespeare.




Katherine Novko discussed her research on the display practices of the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford in her presentation entitled, “Classical Greece in Victorian Britain: A Case of the Ashmolean Museum.”

Nice work, Morgan and Katherine!