Author Archives: vtomasso

Trinity students present at the first annual CTW symposium!

Guest bloggers: Morgan Hallow and Philip Jaeggi-Wong

On Saturday November 10th, 2018 Trinity College hosted the first annual CTW undergraduate symposium. Students from Trinity College, Connecticut College, and Wesleyan University presented their work. There were four students total on the ancient text panel, with two presentations on Biblical studies topics and two on classical studies topics.

Apollo and Daphne by André Le Nôtre, 1693

Benjamin Sarraile, a senior from Wesleyan University, discussed the various choices he made while creating his own translation of Homer’s Iliad. Sarraile is specifically interested in how the poetry of older translations has slowed down the tempo or speed present in the original Greek; in his translation, Sarraile aimed to trade poetry for tempo so as to keep in line with the speed of epic poetry. Morgan Hallow, a senior from Trinity College, presented her paper on the role of Cupid in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She argued that Cupid’s power of desire takes full control over the poem and itself is what prevented Ovid from writing an epic akin to the Iliad or Virgil’s Aeneid.

Jean-Germain Drouais, The Canaanite Woman, 1763

Peter Teel, a sophomore from Trinity College, discussed the organization of the Old Testament and the way in which its narratives were composed from various sources in Biblical history. He focused on the role of King Josiah in the creation of the Book of Deuteronomy and its designation as a text written by Moses in order to effect reform in his kingdom. Philip Jaeggi-Wong, also a sophomore at Trinity, called into question the traditional view of Catholic Christianity as being based on the universal mission of Jesus. He argued that the gospels suggest a more partisan Jesus, whose idea of his own mission changes through his different encounters with Jews and Gentiles in his ministry in Judea.

Well done, everyone, and congratulations!

Ancient chemistry with Dr. Koh!

Guest post by Aiden Dumas

On Tuesday October 30 2018, we were pleased to welcome Professor Andrew Koh, a Senior Research Fellow at MIT, who gave an insightful lecture on organic residue analysis and the study of human history. Afterwards, Dr. Koh visited one of our First-Year Seminars (Medicine and Health in Ancient Rome, taught by Professor Caldwell) and let us in on the ins and outs of the culture of research labs and explained how classical studies can give us a unique perspective on our own time by providing a platform of data for us to examine the social, political, and legal ramifications of subjects such as environmental fluctuation. Just as we are now facing a troubled global climate altered by excessive human interference, Dr. Koh reminded us that the Romans too had instances of this phenomenon in their history. For example, by studying the Romans’ harvesting of millions of marine snails to make their coveted regal purple dyes, we can draw parallels to modern overfished aquatic populations such as tuna, and take lessons from how the Romans dealt with these resource shortages. Thank you for the insightful visit, Dr. Koh!

Excavate at Akko, Israel this summer!

This summer Dr. Martha Risser will be excavating the ancient site of Akko, Israel, and she would love for Trinity students to join her!

You will receive academic credit for participating in the dig for a month: CLCV 300 (2 credits). Your work there can be tailored to your specific interests: GIS, metallurgy, economy–the sky’s the limit!

Here is the link that gives instructions about how to apply: The deadline to apply is March 15.

Dr. Julie Hruby speaks about the Palace of Nestor!

“Mycenaeans were kind of lushes.”

On Thursday September 13 2018, Dr. Julie Hruby of Dartmouth College’s Department of Classics came to Trinity’s campus to deliver the first AIA lecture of the 2018-2019 season. In her cleverly-titled talk, “Ashes, Ashes, They All Fell Down: A New Theory About the Destruction of the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor”, Dr. Hruby looked at older ideas about why Bronze-Age  Greek palaces were destroyed at the end of the twelfth century BCE, concluding that destruction by invaders was not a sufficient explanation. Presenting historical seismic maps of the area, she asserted that earthquakes and subsequent fires were responsible for the Palace of Nestor’s demise.

Dr. Hruby presented to a packed house of faculty, students, and AIA community members. It was a great interdisciplinary success, with Environmental Science, Chemistry, Classical Studies, and others present. Thank you, Dr. Hruby!

Alumna publishes article on classical reception!

Irenae A. Aigbedion, an alumna of Trinity’s Classical Studies and Language & Culture Studies departments, has just published an article on classical reception. Irenae is now a graduate student in comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University. Her article, entitled “Atalanta, The Soul of Atlanta? Rewriting Ovid in W. E. B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk (1903),” appears in a prominent journal, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, in their summer 2018 issue Above the Veil: Revisiting the Classicism of W. E. B. Du Bois. Congrats, Irenae!

Profs. Safran and Tomasso in EPIC HEROES ON SCREEN

Associate Professor Meredith E. Safran and Assistant Professor Vincent Tomasso of the Classical Studies Department wrote chapters that are included in a book published this month, Epic Heroes on Screen.

In her chapter, “Sacrifice and Salvific Heroism in Supernatural (2005-)”,  Prof. Safran looks at in the television series Supernatural. She argues that the demon-fighting Winchester brothers in that series embrace the heroic model of the ancient Greek and Roman hero Herakles/Hercules in contrast to the model of Christ.


Prof. Tomasso’s chapter, “Ancient (Anti)Heroes on Screen and Ancient Greece Post-9/11”, looks at the challenge to American identities after the terrorist attack of September 11 2001. Taking the films Alexander (Stone 2004), 300 (Snyder 2007), and Clash of the Titans (Leterrier 2010) as case studies, Prof. Tomasso argues that these films represent ancient Greece as a problematic site for western identity in the wake of tensions with the Middle East.This is especially evident in Clash of the Titans, in which the sorcerers called the Djinn are visually coded as stereotypical Middle Easterners (right).

Epic Heroes on Screen was edited by Antony Augoustakis and Stacie Raucci and is an entry in Edinburgh University Press’ Screening Antiquity series, which is edited by Monica Cyrino and Lloyd Llewelyn-Jones.

Congratulations to Our Graduating Seniors!

Congratulations to the Trinity College seniors who graduated with a degree in Classics in May of 2018!

Pictured above are the students who majored in Classics and are members of Eta Sigma Phi, an honorary society for undergraduates studying classical antiquity: (from left to right) Kelcie Finn, Claudia Garrote, Caroline Manns, Dylan Ingram, and Will Verdeur (not pictured: Lydia Herndon).

Graduating students who majored in Classical Studies were Sophie Akhoundi, Kaitlin Breen, Winston Brewer, Tristan McConnell, and Andy Rosenblatt.

Graduating students who minored in Classical Antiquity were John Dolan IV, Michael Fries, Nicholas Fusco, Madison Hummer, Jane Linhares, Corinne Macaulay, Kira Mason, Tim Peng, Isabella Pizzi, Ashhab Quazi, Jack Roy, Elenore Saunders, Aaron Shneider, and Matthew Toth IV. Michelle Olsson and Tess Wissell minored in Classical Tradition.

Ad astra per aspera, discipuli! We know you’ll do great things, and we’ll be tickled pink to hear from you in the future.

Alexander the Action Figure’s Anabasis!

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.”

La MaMa Performance Group Talks Their Trojan Women Project!

“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 at CAMWS 2018!

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.