This semester, students in Prof. Caldwell’s Alexander the Great course (HIST 374) read ancient sources on Alexander’s military conquests (Arrian’s Anabasis), life (Plutarch’s Life of Alexander) and afterlife (the Alexander Romance; the art of the Romans and Andy Warhol, among others). Research groups investigated topics related to Alexander’s 11,000-mile journey with his troops, and took the class’ own Alexander action figure on a campaign (Greek: anabasis) around the Trinity campus, as pictured below. At the end of the course, students were assigned to use evidence to debate whether we’re justified today in referring to Alexander — whose main aims were war and conquest — as ‘”great.”
Stop #1: The 2018 Anabasis (“campaign”) of Alexander begins! This semester’s HIST 374: Alexander the Great students are posing A’s action figure at points on the Trinity campus. Greg McGowan, John Wagner, and Ferran Brown chose the first stop: “The figure purposefully has its back towards the viewer as our group concluded that the image of Alexander’s face should be up for interpretation. Additionally, the figure is positioned looking uphill facing Trinity’s Chapel, signifying Alexander’s aspirations to divinity.” Stay tuned for more.
Stop #2: The 2018 Anabasis (Campaign) of Alexander the Great continues! Liam McDonough, Corey Cheung, and Joe McDermott perched him strategically atop a cornerstone from the original Trinity campus in downtown Hartford. Their team-building quotation (from Plutarch?): “Remember that upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”
Stop #3: The Anabasis (“campaign”) of Alexander the Great continues! Today he pauses at one of Trinity’s Greek letter organizations, Alpha Delta Phi. Nico Benitz, Jamie Noonan, and John Fisher note: “We chose this to represent Alexander’s continued support for and alliance with the Greek city-states as established by his father, King Phillip II of Macedon in the League of Corinth.”
Stop #4: After a brief hiatus, the Anabasis (“campaign”) of Alexander the Great has resumed! Jon Pacilio, Sam Ganeles, and Scott Brazina offer the following caption: “We took this photo to highlight Alexander’s focus on using athletic events (such as track and field events) to increase troop camaraderie, overall welfare, and morale.”
“Because it is not in any one language and because the events that happen in the piece
involve the audience…it doesn’t seem to belong to any one culture, and yet there’s room for many people to bring their own cultural experience into it.”
The La MaMa performance group, which is housed in the Great Jones Repertory Theater in New York City, visited the Trinity campus on April 5 2018. Kim Ima and Onni Johnson (below) spoke to us about their experiences with La MaMa’s “The Trojan Women Project.” The project began in 1974 with a performance of part of Euripides’ fifth-century BC ancient Greek play Trojan Women. The following year, La MaMa began going to places around the globe, like Guatemala and Cambodia, to connect with local performance groups. La MaMa’s goal was to help those groups conceptualize how Trojan Women could be adapted to relate to their own experience of conflict.
Trinity Classics faculty presented and responded to papers and presided over panels at the annual meeting of CAMWS (the Classical Association of the Middle West and South), held this year in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Dr. Lauren Caldwell presented her paper, “Looking for Non-Elite Girls in the Roman Empire”, on the presidential panel “Constructions of Girlhood in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Trends, Challenges, Critical Approaches“, and she presided over the “Ancient Science and Mathematics” panel.
Dr. Meredith Safran presented her paper, “Gender-flipping the Katabatic Hero: Starbuck as Aeneas in Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)” on the panel “Wonder Woman and Warrior Princesses”, responded to the panel “Popular Classics Revisited”, and presided over the panel “Republican Histories.”
Dr. Vince Tomasso presented his paper, “The Elite and Popular Reception of Classical Antiquity in the Works of Cy Twombly and Roy Lichtenstein”, on the panel “Popular Classics Revisited,” which he organized and presided over.
On Monday April 23 2018, we were fortunate to enjoy a lecture from Dr. Sam Moorhead of the British Museum. Dr. Moorhead came to Trinity’s campus to talk about the discovery and analysis of the Frome Hoard, a cache of ancient Roman coins dating to the late third century AD. The hoard was discovered in 2010 in a farmer’s field in Somerset, England and contained over half a million coins. Dr. Moorhead spoke to us about a variety of coins found in the Frome Hoard, and he focused on the reign of the emperor Canusius Adventus, whose silver denarius appears below. Thank you, Dr. Moorhead, for a lovely visit!
On April 24th and 26th 2018 five graduating seniors presented the thesis projects that they undertook for the Classics department. All of them had taken the senior seminar course offered by Prof. Meredith Safran (Classics) and then elected to continue developing their projects over the spring semester.
Dylan Ingram, a dual Classics and Mathematics major, presented his project (“Nominative for Accusative Case Interchange in the Numeral tessares in Greek Documentary Papyri, 310 BCE – 350 CE”) which was advised by Prof. Vincent Tomasso (Classics). Dylan looked into case syncretism, the linguistic phenomenon of the inflected endings of Greek words becoming the same over time. Dylan looked at papyri from Egypt in the Hellenistic and Roman periods for evidence that the nominative and accusative forms of the numeral 4 started becoming the same.
A study of the Roman Empire’s importation of olive was up next by Claudia Garrote. She pointed out that olive oil was an incredibly vital part of the Mediterranean diet: it formed a third of the so-called “Mediterranean triad” of foods, with grain and wine. She then explicatedthe mechanics of the olive oil trade from the Baetic region of Spain. Claudia’s project was advised by Prof. Gary Reger (Classics).Lydia Herndon, a double major in Classics and Religious Studies, discussed her project on the fourth-century AD Christian writer Ambrose of Milan (“‘A True Philosopher of Christ:’ Ambrose of Milan’s Reworking of Cicero’s De Officiis“). As Lydia described, Ambrose was an interesting individual who existed at the intersections of both his own elite identity (he was appointed as a bishop) and his desire to preach to non-elites. Her advisors were Profs. Lauren Caldwell (Classics & History) and Tamsin Jones (Religious Studies).Will Verdeur talked to us about the relationship between the heroes of Vergil’s epic poem the Aeneid and the American writer Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway claimed the first-century BC/AD Vergil as one of his most important literary predecessors, though the ideology of Hemingway’s Robert Jordan is markedly different from that of Vergil’s Aeneas. Will’s project was directed by Profs. Safran (Classics) and Mrozwoski (English).Caroline Manns‘ thesis continued the theme this year of interdisciplinary reception studies. She considered the reception of the sixth-century BC Greek poet Sappho by the early twentieth-century American poets Hilda Doolittle and Audre Lorde. Her thesis was directed Profs. Meredith Safran of Classics and Robert Corber of Women’s and Gender Studies.
Congratulations to all five on jobs well-done! The department will miss you when you graduate in just a few short weeks.
On April 27th 2018 the Trinity department of Classics, spearheaded by Dr. Vince Tomasso, organized the nineteenth semi-annual meeting of MACTe: the Massachusetts And Connecticut and everyone group for junior faculty in Classics. The meetings are held once in the fall and once in the spring of each year, and attract pre-tenure professors of Classics from around northern New England to present their work and receive feedback from their peers.
At MACTe XIX, four presenters pre-circulated their papers on subjects as wide-ranging as the use of Latin by Julius Caesar and the use of trees as metaphors for language history by Varro. Our own Dr. Meredith Safran presented her work on comparing Aeneas of Virgil’s epic with the character Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the television series Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) as a character who goes to the underworld and comes back with special knowledge.
MACTe participants also got to enjoy the first truly sunny and warm day of spring in Hartford.
On February 12 2018 we were treated to a visit by Dr. Jane Eva Baxter, who delivered an Archaeological Institute of America lecture about her work on the archaeology of plantations in the Bahamas, entitled “What Happens When You Lose a Revolution? Plantation and Post-Emancipation Life in the Bahamas.” The lecture was co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America – Hartford chapter, the Center for Caribbean Studies, and the department of Classics. My personal favorite part of Dr. Baxter’s presentation was when she talked to us about some of the graffiti that she found in one of the plantations (below). Noting the height of this set of graffiti, Dr. Baxter pointed out that these drawings of ships were likely made by and/or for children. Thank you, Dr. Baxter!
On March 31 2018 Dr. Lauren Caldwell of the department of Classics and the department of History took the students in her advanced Greek course to see a performance of Frogs by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. Frogs was presented by the Barnard-Columbia Ancient Drama Group in the original ancient Greek with English supertitles (right). Students Lydia Herndon, Trea Mannello, and Will Verdeur enjoyed the innovative staging of the play and some camaraderie and conviviality in the heart of New York City (below).
Earlier this month, graduating Classics senior Dylan Ingram (below) wrote an article for the Trinity College campus publication The Trinity Tripod. The subject of Dylan’s article was the visit to the Trinity campus by the LaMaMa performance group from New York City (above), who talked about their Trojan Women project. Dylan writes about how modern dramatists have to interpret Greek texts, which have few to no stage directions or annotations, for modern audiences. The link to Dylan’s article is here: http://commons.trincoll.edu/tripod/2018/04/09/la-ma-mas-trojan-women-explores-ancient-theater/ Congratulations, Dylan!
Dr. Monica Cyrino of the University of New Mexico – Albuquerque came to Trinity the first week of November 2017 to talk to us about her research on Biblical epics on screen and the politics and ideology of the 2012 Japanese film Thermae Romae.
Dr. Cyrino first delivered a presentation, entitled “The Original Action Heroes: Biblical Epic Film in the New Century”, about the post-2000 glut of screen productions on Biblical themes. She discussed smaller-screen productions, such as the 2015 network television miniseries A.D. The Bible Continues, alongside big-budget films released by major studios, such as the 2013 Ridley Scott-directed Exodus: Gods and Kings and Noah of the same year, directed by Noah Arronofsky (whose recent film Mother! demonstrates the director’s continued interest in engaging with Biblical material).
In her second presentation, “Tokyo on the Tiber: Screening Rome as Empire Nostalgia in Takeuchi Hideki’s Thermae Romae (2012)”, Dr. Cyrino analyzed a Japanese film based on a popular manga series. Lucian is an engineer in the city of Rome in the second century A.D. He accidentally time travels to twenty-first century Japan, where he gets ideas for improving the Roman baths of his own time from the bathing culture of Japan. Dr. Cyrino argued that this narrative of admiration for the imperialism of ancient Rome indicates a desire on the part of modern Japanese audiences to return to their country’s empire before World War II.
Thanks for visiting us and giving us so much to think about, Dr. Cyrino!