Spring 2010 Newsletter

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"Nullum est iam dictum quod non dictum est prius."


Regular CLAS Faculty

Professor Patricia A. Johnston completed her seven-year term as Editor of Vergilius in January, with the publication of volume 55 (2009). She will continue to organize the Vergilian Society's Symposium Cumanum at the Villa Vergiliana in Cumae, Italy, in June. In December 2009, her latest book, The Mystic Cults in Magna Craecia, was published by Texas University Press. 

Returning to the Brandeis classroom after ST09 medical leave, Professor Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow taught Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Greek and Roman Art and Text, which was officially cross-listed with the WGS program last fall. She has been appointed affiliated faculty in Anthropology, Fine Arts, and Women and Gender Studies, and now serves as core faculty in WGS as well. Last fall she was reappointed chair of Classical Studies for another three-year term. 

Professor Leonard C. Muellner was invited last summer to participate in a conference on Scholarly Computing and Publication at Dumbarton Oaks on October 22-23, 2009. His presentation was about software tools for building scholarly commentaries and also was part of a panel discussion about sustainable online publication. He also gave a workshop at the Bard College Graduate Center in New York City on January 14, 2010, on scholarly publication on the internet. 

After teaching a control course for the Davis Grant program in ST09, Professor Cheryl L. Walker was chosen, along with CLAS graduate student, Claudia Filos, to participate actively this year to prepare writing exercises and regimens to improve the writing-intensive course, Age of Pericles. They enjoyed the series of workshops designed to expedite the pedagogy of writing. With her usual dry wit, Professor Walker mused recently, "Whether either my colleagues or the students in the course will be delighted remains to be seen."

Affiliated CLAS Faculty

Newly affiliated with the Department of Classical Studies is Professor William Kapelle from the Department of History. He reports a charming and most unusual event from last fall. Three (not one or two, but three!) excellent students in his by now famous Roman History course came to class one day (about two-thirds of the way through the fall semester) dressed exactly like him--in brown suits, thin ties, white shirts, cornstarch in their hair to simulate silver-gray streaks, and coffee mugs in their right hands (these are absolute icons of Kapelle lectures). If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Professor Kapelle received the highest possible praise from his undergraduates that day (two of them CLAS majors!). We are very very pleased to have his formal participation in Classical Studies. 

Professor Bernadette J. Brooten of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies is also now officially affiliated with the Department of Classical Studies. She reports that the Ford Foundation granted the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project, which she directs, a supplemental grant that will help to support research and publications on the nexus of slavery, gender, sexuality, and religion. Slavery in the Ancient Near East and ancient Mediterranean, the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are central to the Project. 

Thank you to our donors and supporters from fall 2009. 

The department wishes to thank Gloria and Sanfort Ma, parents of Dianne Ma '09, for their generous gift of last September. Their kind support has greatly enhanced our programming for our students during 2009-2010.

We are also grateful to Mrs. Ellen Wiesen, Paul Trusten '73, R.Ph., and Frederic Siegel '71, Associate VP and Dean of Freshmen at George Washington University, for their loyal support of the David S. Wiesen Memorial Prize Fund.

The department is ever grateful to Professor Jennifer Eastman for the two lectures (one in the fall and one in the spring) that she so magnanimously sponsors. 

Finally, we sincerely thank Mrs. Eunice M. Lebowitz Cohen for her tremendous generosity for the Eunice M. Lebowitz Cohen Scholarship Fund, the Eunice M. Lebowitz Cohen Fellowship program, the Eunice M. Lebowitz Cohen Prize for Excellence in Classical Literature, and the Eunice M. Lebowitz Prize for Excellence in Classical Art and Archaeology.

Without these loyal patrons our programs and activities would be greatly diminished. Our sincere thanks to all of them.

Spring 2010 Events 

Thursday, February 25, 2010, 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

The Martin Weiner Lecture Series

Professor Ann Vasaly, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University

Livy's Early Books: The Voice of the People

Location: Pearlman Lounge, with reception to follow

Thursday, March 18, 2010, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Meet the Majors in Classical Studies

with Andy Volpe, Roman Soldier Enactor

Classical Studies Faculty and Undergraduate Departmental Representatives

Location: Shiffman 219

Thursday, March 22, 2010, 5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

The Jennifer Eastman Lecture Series

Professor Susan Alcock, Joukowsky Professor of Archaeology, Director, Joukowsky
 Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University

What to do with a Wonder of the World: The Puzzle of Petra (Jordan)

Location: Lown 2, with reception to follow

Monday, April 12, 2010 , 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

The Classical Studies Colloquium Series

The Class of 2010 Senior Thesis Presentations

  • Aimee Birnbaum '10

    Parallels and Paradigms in Book IV of Vergil's Aeneid

  • Jack B. Bouchard '10
A Social History of Rural Attika, 479-395 BCE

  • Sarah A. Costrell '10

    Euclid and the Method of Exhaustion

  • Brenda G. Green-Sisson '10
The Aesthetics of Ancient Greek Music

  • Zach Margulies '10

    Upon the Shoulders of the Seaward Philistines:
Leadership and Governance in Iron Age Philistia

  • Lee Marmor '10

    The Evolution of the Tribunate in the Roman Republic

  • Amy E. Ostrander '10

    ECLAS: A Tool towards the Decipherment of Minoan Linear A 
Location: Olin-Sang 207

Fall 2009 Martin Weiner Lecture: Stephen Scully, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University on Hesiod's Olympus 

ScullyOn Oct. 29, 2009, Stephen Scully, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University, delivered the Fall 2009 Martin Weiner Lecture, "Hesiod's Olympus." Professor Scully discussed the ideological conception of the gods on Mount Olympus presented in Hesiod's Theogony. The gods of Mount Olympus are usually interpreted as a family unit with Zeus seen as the literal "father of gods and men" that he is called in the Homeric epics. Earlier scholars embraced this view, though some have interpreted Zeus as being representative of a Mycenaean "wanax," or king, with Olympus functioning as a Mycenaean citadel. Professor Scully turned to artistic representations of Olympus itself for insight into its social setting, but the ancient depictions were ambiguous. Vase paintings rarely show scenery that would allow for identification of the setting of Olympus, and even the Homeric Epics are vague referring to Olympus alternatively as a mountain top and heaven itself.

An ancient commentary on the Iliad known as the Scholium A, however, provides insight into the ancient conceptions of Olympus and the gods. The commentator refers to Olympus as a polis, the word used to refer to the city-states of ancient Greece. Professor Scully believes this to be the most accurate description of the community of gods with copious similarities between the divine activities on Olympus and the political functions of a classical polis.

Olympus is described in the epics as being similar to a city with its own gate and separate houses for the gods with Zeus' at the highest point. The gods meet in an assembly in the agora just as Greek citizens would do in Classical times. Furthermore, the Greeks referred to the Olympians as the "tribes of gods." This is a communal designation and not one indicative of a family unit.

Zeus, however, does not function as an absolute ruler, but rather governs by the rule of law as in a polis. Hesiod says Zeus distributed laws and Professor Scully notes how none of Zeus' powers are his by his own nature, and he is not obeyed as the father of absolute authority as in a familial setting. Rather, Zeus receives his powers through kindness and the sharing of power and honors. This is a social interaction that would occur in a community setting. Olympus becomes a place of laws in which, as Hesiod says, the introduction of discord by any of the gods brings a ten year exile from the community. Olympus thus resembles a city-state through its well-ordered government and rule of law as guaranteed by Zeus and personified in the person of one of his wives, Themis.

Olympus is not any polis, but the first polis established as a breaking point with the divine generations before Zeus. The Theogony, recounts the generations before Zeus as being bound by violence and primitive laws of vengeance exemplified by Kronos' slaying of his father Ouranos. This is the time when Eris or discord is created from Night. With the arrival of Zeus, the "nature" personified by the earlier generations becomes restricted and tamed by Zeus' rule of law. Olympus is created as a place apart from nature where law can flourish and social harmony can endure. Professor Scully sees Hesiod's first generations as showing the problem with untamed nature and the triumph of Zeus representing the triumph of law. In his conclusion, Professor Scully noted how only on Olympus, and thus in a polis, justice can exist in the presence social stability and good government brought on by the rule of law. At the lecture's conclusion, a question and answer session was held followed by a small, but lively reception in which all participants were able to meet and ask further questions of Professor Scully.

-- Lee A. Marmor '11, a Classical Studies UDR, is majoring in Classical Studies (Classical Archaeology and Ancient History track). He will be attending Tufts University this fall to work on his master's degree in Classical Archaeology.

Fall 2009 Jennifer Eastman Lecture: Professor William E. Metcalf at Yale University on Coins and Medals 

Eastman Lecture
Professor Metcalf, Jennifer Eastman (donor for the Eastman lecture series), Professor Stephen Ostrow (MIT)
On Sept. 21, 2009, the department had the pleasure of hosting Dr. William E. Metcalf, the Benjamin Lee Damsky Curator of Coins and Medals and Professor of Classics at Yale University. Dr. Metcalf has served as the Chief Curator of the American Numismatic Society and written several books on specialized aspects of Roman coinage, but the purpose of his talk, entitled "How to Look at Ancient Coins," was to provide a basic overview of monetary systems and to help his audience, made up largely of non-numismatists, to understand the purpose of coins in antiquity and how they may or may not serve the same purpose today.

To start off, Dr. Metcalf explained a little bit about the practice of numismatics, including the methods of measuring and weighing coinage, and then turned to the basic issue of defining money. He showed the audience a photograph of two chunks of unmarked metal, which, despite their unremarkable appearance, were actually very precisely weighted and, because of this standardized precision, were likely used as currency in the pre-Classical period.

He went on to explain that marks of value were in fact very rare in Classical coinage, even as metal money began to look more and more like our modern coins, and concluded that, although the hunks of metal in the photo could not be called coins, they certainly were represented an important step in the history of money. 

For the remainder of his lecture, Dr. Metcalf veered away from philosophical considerations on the nature of currency and economy and concentrated on showing examples of coins from Greece, Rome, and the surrounding parts of the Classical world. His second slide featured a gold coin of Antoninus Pius Augustus, which was actually issued by Caracalla, later in the Principate. This coin portrayed an elaborate drinking scene with Hercules, who was a popular figure on Roman coinage, and Dr. Metcalf hypothesized that the scene may have come from a painting, now lost.

Dr. Metcalf next showed a coin from Artemesium in West Asia Minor, dating from about 620 B.C.E. This coin was an example of the usage of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver, in official currency. The coin featured a special marking to show its purity, as electrum could also contain copper and other less valuable metals. The weights of these coins, which were again necessarily quite precise, usually differed by increments of one-sixth. Electrum, however, was eventually abandoned in coin production, as it was often difficult to determine the percentage of gold and the percentage of silver in a given piece.

The next coins were notable for their portrayals of mythology and symbols relevant to the cities in which they were produced. A large, silver coin from the Mediterranean island of Aegina, the first Greek state to mint coins, showed an image of a turtle and little else in ancient coinage, Dr. Metcalf remarked, images seemed to speak louder than words. The sea turtle was a common sight in the waters around Aegina, which owed its prestige to its status as a sea power. Dr. Metcalf also showed a slide with the famous Athenian obol, featuring the owl of Athena, the founding deity of the city according to Greek mythology. In addition to the mythological connection, owls were also said to be very common in the vicinity of Athens. The Athenian obol was known far and wide for its reliable metallic purity and standardization; for this reason, it was the first metal coinage to become popular in Egypt.

Dr. Metcalf finished by showing a series of Roman coins, notable for their use as political propaganda. In showing a coin depicting Hercules and the Roman wolf with her two twins, Romulus and Remus, Dr. Metcalf observed that it was a common practice to mark coins with the visages of those no longer living, just as it is today, possibly because of the value of deceased forefathers as symbols of a nation's current greatness. Another coin contained the image of Venus on one side and Caesar subduing the Gauls on the other, in a clever juxtaposition of Rome's patron goddess and one of its mortal heroes. A similar combination of religion and history can, of course, be seen on modern American currency, suggesting that the role of coins has perhaps not changed all that much since the Classical era.

The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception, during which students, faculty, and other audience members discussed the lecture and enjoyed Dr. Metcalf's company.

-- Sarah Costrell '10, a Classical Studies UDR, is majoring in Classical Studies (Classical Archaeology and Ancient History track). She will be attending Smith College this fall to work on a post Baccalaureate in Math.

Part I. Claudia Filos interviews Professor Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, Graduate Program Director
 for Classical Studies for the new Master of Arts in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies (AGRS program).

CF: First, why is Brandeis introducing a new master's degree in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies now? How does this fit in with the overall, long-term plans of the department and the university? How many students will be admitted each year? What would you consider to be the ideal size of the program?

AOK-O: The faculty of the Department of Classical Studies has been thinking about initiating a new MA program for a couple of years. We started the Greek Studies in the Schools program, administered through the Rabb School in 1999, and our Certificate program (operating since 2006) was a natural progression. More and more inquiries have come from the teachers in the Greek Studies program about an MA program, so we decided to propose one in the spring of 2009.  We were gratified by the response during a time of great economic downturn, and we were thrilled to have four applicants for the first year. We have no plans to create a PhD program, but we feel our two-track option fills a needed niche in the graduate MA programs available across the US.  We imagine admitting between 8-10 new candidates next year and thereafter.

CF: The MA program is brand new this year, yet already has several students enrolled. What are the benefits of enrolling in such a new program over a more established program? How do you imagine the MA program changing and evolving over the next 3-5 years?

AOK-O: Students in a brand new program have the advantage of branding the program exactly to their needs and goals.  Yes, there are MA programs out there that promise good preparation in Greek and Latin languages and literatures for ultimate admission to PhD programs, but our program aspires to do that, plus offer solid training in material culture, history, art, and archaeology as well.  I can see us listening to the needs of the MA students and possibly offering new courses (in the undergraduate curriculum) that would be of interest to them within the next 3-5 years.

CF: The two-track MA program you have introduced is highly flexible and unique. First, why a two-track program? And second, why was designing a flexible program so important? What kind of advising will be available to help students design the best individualized program?

AOK-O: Many years ago we had a one-track MA, suitable only for students who wanted to improve their languages. These days, such a program still has its audience, but there are others out there (teachers in the schools, in particular) who want to study the classical world, but who do not have the years to devote to the study of Latin and Greek language and literature as well as material culture.  We wanted this new MA to service BOTH audiences, hence the two tracks. We hope to be able to give lots of individualized advising to all our graduate students.  We do not imagine that the program will grow much beyond 10-12 students per year.

CF: The one required class is the Capstone Course that gives students a chance to work briefly with each professor and in multiple fields. Why is this such an integral part of the program?

AOK-O: Most graduate programs in Classical Studies (both MA and PhD programs) have proseminars or capstone courses.  They afford each student the chance to see firsthand the expertise of every faculty member within a department, even if the student never takes a regular course with a certain faculty member.  We modeled our capstone on some of the successful graduate programs we researched, and we hope the experience is rich and varied for our students.

CF: With the exception of the Capstone Course already discussed, graduate students take classes along with undergraduates. How does the program provide a graduate school experience? What other opportunities are provided for working with faculty on a graduate level either in or out of the classroom?

AOK-O: All graduate students in undergraduate courses will have additional assignments and extra opportunities to meet with their professors outside of the class about the course material.  While most exams will be the same, paper assignments will be longer and require more intense research. This system has worked quite well so far, and we hope it continues.  I am hoping to give graduate students more opportunities to work in the CLARC (Classical Studies Artifact Research Center), since this would be very useful to the students in the Ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations track 1.

CF: The requirements for the MA paper appear less intensive than the undergraduate thesis. Why is that and would such a paper provide adequate preparation for entrance into a Ph.D. program?

AOK-O: Many students in our MA program (track 1, in particular) will not be going on to a PhD.  We felt that to require a thesis (as opposed to a paper) might turn away a certain audience we are trying to attract teachers and working professionals who want (or need) an MA, but who are not striving to enter PhD programs.  For those who do wish to enter a PhD program, we feel that a paper can be a very intense research project in itself and indeed adequate preparation for more advanced graduate work.

Part II. Professor Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, Graduate Program Director for Classical Studies for the
 MA in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies (AGRS program) asks a few return questions of graduate 
student Claudia Filos.

AOK-O: After this semester you will have just one more class to take. Now that you are almost done with the program, what do you see as the department's greatest strengths?

CF: Year after year, the classics department is among the most highly rated in the university. I believe the professors of this department earn such high ratings because they are masters of their subjects, as well as the arts of teaching and mentoring. Every professor in this department is just world-class. I've taken classes at many other universities, and despite this department's high ratings, I'd say our department is still underrated. Each professor has their own distinct style in the classroom, but one-on-one, I'd say they all share a common sense of commitment to their students' growth and intellectual development. I also think that the students in this department are special. As a group they consistently surprise me with their intellectual curiosity and work ethic. I feel lucky every day to be part of this community of classicists.

AOK-O: Given the current economic crisis and tough employment market, some may wonder why an MA in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies is a valuable investment of time and financial resources. Why did you make this choice?

CF: I think the economic crisis drives home three points: no degree is a ticket to guaranteed income, being smart and having the ability to learn new skills is the best path to economic security, and standard of living doesn't equal quality of life. Given these facts, I wanted to invest my time and money in a degree that would be enjoyable on a daily basis while granting truly life-long benefits and knowledge that can stand the test of time. Since I already had a family and was returning to school after a long absence, I also wanted a program that was flexible while still being intellectually rigorous. The M.A. program in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies at Brandeis has fulfilled all these goals and more. 
I believe my degree has made me smarter and happier while revealing a world that is more beautiful than I ever imagined. I've developed teaching, writing and mentoring skills as a T.A. I have made life-long friends who share my passion. And when I finish next semester, I can go on for a Ph.D. or teach at the high school level (earning substantially more with an M.A.) and help others connect with this beautiful ancient culture. That seems like a pretty good investment.

-- Claudia Filos is a graduate student in the Ancient Greek and Roman Studies Program (AGRS).

The Spring 2010 Classical Film Series

The spring Classical Studies Film Series began early in February with the continuation of "I, Claudius: Episodes 7 & 8." Even if you missed this continuing feature, we hope you have a chance to join us in medias res. Also cued up this term: "Jason and the Argonauts" and "Clash of Titans." All are welcome. Come early to join in our pizza party!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Classical Studies Film Series

"I, Claudius: Episodes 7 & 8: Queen of Heaven and Reign of Terror
Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart

Location: Shiffman 219

Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

The Classical Studies Film Series

"Jason and the Argonauts"
Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Honor Blackman, Gary Raymond

Location: Shiffman 219

Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Classical Studies Film Series

"I, Claudius: Episodes 9 & 10: Zeus, By Jove and Hail Who?
Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart

Location: Shiffman 219

Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Classical Studies Film Series

"Clash of Titans"

Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress

Location: Shiffman 219

Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

The Classical Studies Film Series

"I, Claudius: Episodes 11, 12, and 13: Fool's Luck, A God in Colchester, 
and Old King Log
Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart

Location: Shiffman 219

Photo Gallery: Fall 2009 Lectures and Other Gatherings

Our fall 2009 events included a speaker in the Eastman Lectureship, at which the following photographs were taken.

The fall 2009 Jennifer Eastman Lecture 

Students, faculty, and other classicists attended the annual Fall 2009 Jennifer Eastman Lecture, delivered by Dr. William E. Metcalf from Yale University. 

Photos from Eastman Lecture

(left to right): (1) Professor Metcalf and Professor Ann O. Koloski-Ostrow in the lecture room. 

(2) Professor Metcalf, Professor Koloski-Ostrow, and Aimee Birnbaum in CLARC as Prof. Metcalf checks out our coins.

Photos from Eastman Lecture

(left to right): (3) Professor Metcalf with graduate student Sarah Costrell, and undergraduate student Jessica Schaengold in the library at the CLARC exhibit; (4) Professor Muellner and graduate student Justin Villet. 

Nota Bene

The title illustration on this e-newsletter was constructed from contiguous images of the photograph, Reconstruction of the lyre-player (so-called Orpheus fresco), throne room, Palace of Nestor, Chora Museum, Pylos, Greece, 1400-1100 BCE.

The quotation following our title is taken from Eunuchus, by 2nd century BCE Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer (Terence).