“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!
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!
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 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.
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.