A trilingual exchange in Beijing

December 8th, 2017 by Classics Department

By Vincent Crotta ’19

As a Classics major in China, I didn’t really expect to use much Latin or Greek — and for the most part I was right.

However, I recently had a really cool experience with one of my Chinese teachers. Here in Beijing the building we use for classes has a lot of unused classrooms, and I had asked my cultural adviser here if I could use one of these unused classrooms for painting.

She was kind enough to say “yes,” and so for the last few months I had been using an old classroom to paint and I had hung up some of the finished paintings on the walls. One of the paintings I had finished (pictured at right) was inspired by the song “Rändajad,” which is by the Estonian group Urban Symphony. One on my teachers came into the room and asked about the painting.

As I was explaining it to her in Chinese, she asked about the meaning of the name of the band. I told her the band was called Urban Symphony. She asked what the word “urban” meant, and I explained in Chinese that “urban” refers to the setting of a city and comes from the Latin word urbs, urbis, meaning “city.”

My teacher then asked if the words “rural” and “suburban” also had Latin roots, and I said that they also did. She was very excited to learn three new words in English and then in Latin, and I was happy to be able to teach her something new.

Presenting on Ancient Coins to a High School Class

October 18th, 2017 by Classics Department

By Hui “Luna” Li ‘21

On Friday, October 13, a month-and-a-half into my first semester at Holy Cross, I returned to my high school to give a presentation on my work with ancient coins. This fall, I started learning about ancient Greek and Roman coins on Fenwick 4. Outside of studying the history of coins in the ancient world, I am helping catalog the Worcester Art Museum’s collection as part of Professor Smith’s Ancient Coins class.

I thought it would be good to reach out to my former Classics teachers at Noble and Greenough School in late September with an offer to drop by and teach this year’s History of Ancient Greece class about coins of the past and the work we do on them today for future research. I am grateful to Mr. Blake, the chair of the Classics department at Nobles, and to Mr. Ulrich, the teacher of the History of Ancient Greece course, for being open to and excited about my idea. I made sure to include tidbits in my slideshow that both built off of what the students had already learned about ancient Greece and served as a segue to material they will be covering next week.

Introducing myself and starting the presentation.

Mr. Blake and Mr. Ulrich welcomed me back with open arms in an emotional reunion that I will not forget anytime soon. They looked happy to have me back on campus and were excited to hear about my adventures in the Classics department at Holy Cross. Mr. Ulrich told me that I had the entire 45-minute class period to present. This made me both nervous and excited about my presentation, but above all, I couldn’t wait to return to my old classroom and see all the students.

10:15 came soon enough, and I found myself in the room I knew too well. Part of me wanted to sit down with the students, but I knew that this day, I would be taking the teacher’s role in the classroom. I set up my computer, pulled up my presentation, and waited for Mr. Ulrich to turn the class’ attention to me. I cleared my throat, straightened my jacket, and began.

I introduced myself as a first-year Classics major at the College of the Holy Cross and a recent Nobles graduate, adding sarcastically that 2017 was so long ago. Whatever worries I had running through my mind melted away after hearing the class start laughing at my joke. I found it easier to smile as I went to the first parts of my slideshow.

I started with a brief introduction on numismatics and on how coins were made in the ancient world. I spoke about the coin hoard at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, explaining why the well-preserved coins and the raw material they were found with were important for piecing together the history of coins, and laughing at the fact that the coins went missing in the British Museum for 90 years. I could not be happier that everyone was with me and that the students were engaged with the material.

Presenting to Mr. Ulrich’s History of Ancient Greece class.

From there, I moved onto ancient Greek coins, their designs, and their significance in the Aegean. I went over the parts and features of a coin and pulled up images of American coins for comparison. Circulating around the room was a purse of modern coins to add a more tactile experience to the presentation. The students followed along with my remarks on how similar our coins are to the coins used in the ancient Greek world – our quarters can feature the eagle (an animal symbol of the country, similar to how the Athenians had their owls) or a state (like how different city states had signature identifiers on their coins) on their reverses.

After a candy break (a custom I picked up from Mr. Blake, who bought us candy every Friday to keep us awake), I talked about my work in the Worcester Art Museum, examining photographs of the coins provided by the museum, identifying and assigning specific issues to each one, and filling in the data on our software. I showed them photos of the first coin I worked on, a silver denarius of the Roman emperor Galba from 68-69 C.E. Alongside the WAM-supplied images were pictures of a better-preserved example of the same issue, for a clearer image of what the coin might have looked like in the past, and a sample catalog entry for a coin of this sort. There were also photos of the other Roman imperial coins I was working on, screenshots of my catalog work, and candids of our class in action at the Worcester Art Museum.

Wrapping up my presentation, the point I made sure to touch upon the most was the fact that these were real coins we were working with, with our own hands, that these are what survive from the ancient world today. The research we are doing identifying and cataloging these coins will be valuable contributions to existing databases and will help numismatists of the future identify any yet-to-be identified coins. In my closing remarks, I left the class with a question: what will we leave behind for people of the future? If coins are what outlived their creators and are what we have today to piece together their lives in the past, what will our coins say about us?

After reading the acknowledgements on my last slide, I did not expect to receive so much applause in the classroom. This was my first time speaking to a class as a guest presenter, and I could not be any happier with the response I got from my audience. I was overjoyed to see the students so curious about ancient coins and about a different field of the Classics. It was after this moment that I could not be prouder to be a Nobles graduate.

With Mr. Ulrich (L) and Mr. Blake (R).

Thinking back to why I wanted to give this presentation, I remember that this time last year, when I was a student in this class, Mr. Blake invited his friend and former colleague, Professor Mires of Salem State University, to talk to us about underwater archaeology and his work on the Antikythera shipwreck. It was this brief glimpse into a new side of the field that inspired me to pursue the Classics in college. I never knew that I was going to be working with actual coins that ancient Greeks and Romans used in the past. I had no clue that I would be inspired by my Ancient Coins class to prepare and give this presentation. Now, I, once a student in History of Ancient Greece, was a guest speaker to a group of students one to two years younger than me.

I hope I can provide a different view to the Classics to the current Nobles students like Professor Mires did for me. I do not know how else I would have realized the sheer vastness of the field that stretches beyond language and history. Furthermore, I want to show these students that the Classics concerns not only the past, but the present and the future as well. What Professor Smith, my Ancient Coins classmates, and I are doing now will be for the present and future of the Classics. I hope my presentation carried those messages to the younger students, and I look forward to speaking about my work in the Classics again.

Greetings from Nijmegen, NL, where the nomina (and omina?) of many Romans lurk

October 18th, 2017 by Classics Department

Prof. Thomas Martin sends a dispatch from his trip to the Netherlands over October break.

About the same population as Worcester, Nijmegen is said to be the oldest city in the Netherlands, dating back to the late first/early second centuries CE. I don’t believe there are too many long-term Roman settlements north of here, so this is close to the northernmost edge of Roman expansion on the northwestern edge of the European continent (not including Great Britain).

Nijmegen is said to be from the Roman name given to this settlement of Romans and ancient Belgians in the very early second century, which was Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum. Noviomagus is said to be a Romanization of a Celtic phrase meaning “New Market” or perhaps “New Field.”

Not too far from the neighborhood where I am staying at the house of my daughter and her family, there is a collection of streets running along the side of a hill that stands parallel to a tributary of the Waal River, one of the two rivers in Nijmegen and itself a tributary of the Rhine River. These streets boast striking (for Classicists!) names. Photos of a selection of the streets’ signs and appearances are below.

The first photo shows the street sign for what would have been a cool address for hippie Latinists in San Francisco and Berkeley in the 1970s. (I won’t reveal how I know that there were hippie Latinists in San Francisco and Berkeley in the 1970s!)

The second photo shows the street associated with the first street sign. It seems fitting, given the often acerbic tone of author whose name is attached to the street, that it is a “Private Way.”

The third photo shows a street sign designating the “plaza” or “area” of a particularly dyspeptic early Roman Emperor. Given his distinctly-less-than-warm-and-fuzzy reputation, its seems ironic, as shown in the fourth photo, that his “area” is a inviting, grassy park in which children play soccer!

The fifth photo shows a street sign associated with a Roman Emperor said to have been more personable. It is then fitting, in his case, that his street (the sixth photo) also flanks an area where children play.

The seventh photo shows in the distance the narrow branch of the river beyond the hill where these streets lie, in a district perfectly suited for watching with care the traffic on the water, to try to see if it was bringing friendly visitors or hostile raiders.

New perspectives after a month in & around Greece

September 25th, 2017 by Classics Department

By Zach Sowerby ’19

Zach and Julia on a hill overlooking Athens. Mount Lycabettus, the Panathenaic Stadium, and the Aegean Sea are in the background.

It’s been nearly one month since my arrival in Athens, and Julia Spiegel has been here three weeks longer than I. We are both juniors, of the graduating class of 2019, spending this semester abroad as part of our Classics majors. We have spent our time here learning Greek, taking classes on a range of topics, exploring Athens and the local culture, and visiting the great historical and cultural centers of Greece.

The rate at which new information has been colliding with my brain has been so enormous that it sometimes can be tough to take a break to process everything. Over the last few weeks, our program has taken us to Delphi and Crete on extended trips, packed with professor-guided visits to cultural centers, archaeological sites, museums, and towns. A full review of even these two trips would consume countless pages of text, so I will allow the included pictures and their captions to tell some of the story. Classes themselves also often are held on site, out of the classroom, as professors introduce us to the topography of Athens or lecture on objects in one of Athens’ many museums.

The Temple of Apollo at Delphi and Mount Parnassus.

It has been most efficacious towards a well-rounded liberal arts education to immerse myself in the Greek way of viewing the world. From the day-to-day interactions with my professors and the people in my neighborhood, as well as from observing the manner in which Athens operates, I have gained a perspective distinct from my experiences in the US.

The Island of Spinalonga, off of Crete.

In case you missed it: links about HC Classics from earlier this year

September 25th, 2017 by Classics Department

*CBS news aired a feature story on departmental alum Anthony Fauci ’62 and his work on the AIDS epidemic

*Departmental alum Tabitha Lord ’93 published her second novel, titled Infinity.

*The Holy Cross website included profiles of retiring faculty, including Prof. Blaise Nagy of the Department of Classics.

*Jason Steranko ’17 blogged over the summer about his collection of Ancient Greek black-out poetry, titled Melasmos.

*The article “Citation and Alignment: Scholarship Outside & Inside the Codex” in the journal Manuscript Studies, written by Christine Roughan ’14, Prof. Neel Smith, and Christopher Blackwell, was made available through open access.

*Prof. Mary Ebbott’s essay “Seeking Odysseus’ Sister” appeared in Michigan Quarterly.

*Plans for the College’s new Center for Arts and Creativity will include a studio theater named after the late Kenneth Happe ’58, an associate professor emeritus of Classics.

Reflection on four years at Holy Cross by Stephanie Neville ’17

June 4th, 2017 by Classics Department

During the 2017 Commencement Week, Classics major Stephanie Neville ’17 read the following reflection to classmates at the senior luncheon. Stephanie, who is from Grand Island, NY, began the study of Latin and Greek at Holy Cross and was a four-year member of the Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club. This summer Stephanie will continue her internship at Dovetail Internet Technologies in Worcester, and in the fall she will begin as a law student at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA.

Beginning on move-in day at Holy Cross, we were encouraged to Live the Mission. We were told to be men and women for others. And as first year students we nodded and went along with it because I do not think that any of us truly understood what those phrases meant at the time. For each of us, however, as we spent our days trekking between buildings on Mt. St. James, we came to understand the significance of those words in a different way, and we came to see how we could apply these terms to our everyday lives.

In my own experience, I came to understand these words in my attempt to create a college bucket list, as I imagine many of us attempted at one point or another. Early on during my Holy Cross career, I jotted down a list of 25 tasks, some more generic than others, that I hoped to complete before I graduated. I then saved my list so I could return to it and mark off those experiences as necessary. Spoiler alert, I never completed all of the tasks on that list.

Not long after I made this list, I felt that something was just not quite right about it. While studying outside in the Hoval and finding the fourth floor of the science building, as a humanities major, were interesting experiences, these did not seem to mean as much to me as the small yet meaningful moments that I increasingly experienced as I met more people on the Hill. So, as a typical Holy Cross student would, since my first list just did not live up to my expectations of what I had hoped it would be, I did the only logical thing: I made a second list. Although this list was a little different from my first, it was something my roommate and I referred to as a nectar list. Whenever I had a new and often unanticipated experience in my life that I felt had meaning to me, I wrote it down in a list. Pretty soon, I had recorded over two hundred moments that I might have otherwise forgotten, like that time the RA knocked on my door on a school night because my roommate and I sang along to Les Mis a little too enthusiastically or the first time one of my professors invited me to office hours just to talk with me about how I was enjoying my classes so far.

Stephanie (second from left) with classmates Drew Virtue, Melody Wauke, and Charlie Schufreider during Commencement festivities.

Looking back at the moments I included on my nectar list, it is clear that the experiences that seemed to mean the most were the everyday and even mundane moments that I had the pleasure of sharing with all kinds of people that I was able to meet. We can all think of people who helped to make our college experience meaningful for us, of the passerby who became a mentor, of strangers who became family. Years from now, when we look back at our time in college, of course we are going to remember those monumental experiences we had, such as when we boarded a plane to study abroad or when we formally declared our major. But when we reflect on what this time actually meant to us and how it shaped the people we are today, we are going to think of the fleeting moments we shared with people who have come to mean the world to us. We are going to think of scouting out tables in Dinand, of asking a friend to swipe us into a dorm when we lost our ID, of waiting in line on chicken parm night at Kimball.

And when we look back at those small moments, those will be the moments that we can look back upon to see how much we’ve grown. When I look back at my list, I am able to see a progression of a timid freshman who fell on the Fenwick stairs on to a more seasoned and a much more comfortable Holy Cross student who tried my hand at cooking in the apartments and who ventured to explore the area around Holy Cross like the Worcester Art Museum, the Blackstone movie theater with discount movie Tuesdays, and other areas of New England that I had never visited.

By choosing to embrace our identity as Holy Cross students, we have already begun to Live the Mission. By immersing ourselves in this incredible community in whatever ways we have found ourselves called, we have played a role both in shaping each other’s experiences and in growing as individuals. Even the smallest moments we have shared with friends or acquaintances on campus or in the Worcester community can have an impact, as we never can fully comprehend how our words or gestures can take effect. Even a passing smile or an open door can make all the difference to someone. At Holy Cross, we have learned how to be open to sharing those moments with those we have been blessed to have around us. As a class, we have served as orientation leaders, served as club leaders, congratulated our classmates who have won Fulbrights or secured jobs, and proofread essays for our peers. In whatever way the opportunity has presented itself, we have learned to support each other, and we have learned how to extend those gestures of support to those beyond the Holy Cross community. Many of us have participated in international or domestic service trips, have served as big brothers and sisters, and have led fundraisers.

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve put in a lot of hard work into our education, our relationships, and our growth as men and women for others. But this is only one milestone in our journey. As we move forward to the next phase of our lives, we must continue to embrace the small moments in life and recognize the beauty in sharing these with the people around us. With this mindset, we can be open to new experiences and to reaching out to new people. With this mindset, we can continue to expand our own definitions of what it means to Live the Mission and to be men and women for others. What are the small moments that you have experienced at Holy Cross that have shaped who you are today and who you want to be?

Students share research on the Iliad at international conference in Heidelberg

May 16th, 2017 by Classics Department

By Charlie Schufreider ’17 and Melody Wauke ’17

Hallo!

On May 12 and 13 we had the opportunity to attend “Digital Classics III: Re-thinking Text Analysis,” a conference held at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Heidelberg, Germany. For those as uninformed as we were before this trip, Heidelberg is an incredibly beautiful city.

Melody on the banks of the Neckar River.

The conference allowed us to present many of the results from our respective senior theses. Melody’s thesis is titled, “Alexandrian editors and the scholia of the Venetus A” while Charlie’s thesis is titled “On the format of the scholia to the Iliad in the Venetus A.”

Both of us were working on applying digital tools in order to analyze patterns of language within the scholia (or scholarly commentary) to the Iliad in the tenth-century Venetus A manuscript. In addition to our research, we also discussed more generally the methodology of the Homer Multitext project. This portion of the talk was prepared and developed by our thesis advisor, Professor Neel Smith; however, he was ultimately unable to attend the conference.

Beyond our own presentation, we were also able to listen to talks from several digital Classicists. From their presentations and the discussions which followed, we learned a great deal about different ways to analyze Classical texts using digital technologies. We were particularly interested by the couple of talks which detailed automated analyzes of the language in Greek tragedy. For example, Francesco Mambrini of the German Archaeological Institute was able to show how the Paedagogus from Sophocles’ tragedy Electra speaks in a manner most similar to the choruses of Sophocles’ plays. (Click here for a link to the full conference program.)

Melody and Charlie at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. They were joined on the conference program by faculty from the University of Leipzig, the University of Paris, Oxford University, and other institutions around Europe.

However, attending the conference was only one part of this trip. There was ample time for us to explore the culture and history of Heidelberg. Sausages with sauerkraut were a mainstay of almost every meal, but the real highlight was getting to explore the large Heidelberg Castle along with its gardens. Due to our early morning arrival in the city, the castle was largely devoid of tourists, making the sights all the more enjoyable. The crown jewel of the castle was its surprising collection of increasingly large barrels, the biggest of which is shown below.

In the end, we are extremely thankful to the Ignite Fund for covering the expenses necessary for this trip. We were able not only to visit this incredible city but also to grow more experienced as scholars of Digital Classics.

Charlie and the largest barrel of all.

Eta Sigma Phi’s “Homerathon” brings the Odyssey alive on campus

April 25th, 2017 by Classics Department

Michael Kelley ’18, Melody Wauke ’17, Charlie Schufreider ’17, Hanna Seariac ’20, Jeffrey Dickinson ’19, and Allyn Waller ’18 at the Homerathon donation table.

On Wednesday, April 19, the student Classics society Eta Sigma Phi hosted the College’s first Homerathon, a daylong reading of all twenty-four books of Homer’s Odyssey to the campus community. The event, which took place in the Hogan Oval, was a fundraiser for Ascentria Care Alliance, a local organization devoted to immigrant and refugee resettlement.

For more on the event, see:

*the story in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, titled “Epic tale: Entire Odyssey read at Holy Cross to benefit refugees

*the piece on the Holy Cross news site, titled: “Holy Cross Takes on Sirens and Cyclopes with Marathon Reading of the ‘Odyssey’

*a timelapse of the first several hours of the Homerathon on YouTube

Liam O’Toole ’20 braves the elements, Odysseus-like, as he reads from the Odyssey.

 

Classics Day tributes to Ms. Toni Methe

April 22nd, 2017 by Classics Department

On April 6, 2017, the Holy Cross Classics Department and the student society Eta Sigma Phi hosted our 45th annual Classics Day, with hundreds of high school students from around New England gathering for a day of Classically themed competitions and events. Click here for the Holy Cross news story on the day.

Toni at the tribute ceremony in the Hogan Ballroom

This year we honored Ms. Antoinette “Toni” Methe, the administrative assistant in Classics, on the occasion of her last Classics Day. Toni has worked at Holy Cross since 1974 and in the Classics Department since 1990. She has organized Classics Day for the last 27 years. Students signed posters for Toni and the Hogan Ballroom full of students resounded with cheers of “Gratias tibi, Toni!” We also read tributes to Toni from four alums of the Department. We print those tributes here:

Michael Russo ‘15

This is Michael Russo, graduate of the class of 2015, writing to you now as a middle school Latin teacher from Texas. I am saddened to know that the Fenwick 4 that I knew will never be the same. I cannot even imagine what the Department of Classics at Holy Cross will be like without you, Toni. You have been its administrative secretary of decades, its longstanding and true bedrock. Your consummate ability to marshal people and resources and to spearhead and organize the annual Classics Day on the campus for countless years has helped make The College of the Holy Cross a local, state and national giant in the promotion of the study and appreciation of the Classics. I will never forget your very friendly and hospitable personality or your constant commitment to the good and proper management of the department and the well-being of its majors (or your operatic voice or love for cats!) On behalf of all Holy Cross Classics majors, I wish you the best health and most happiness that anyone could ever have.

Deborah Sokolowski ‘14

Toni was one of the first people I ever met at Holy Cross, when she kindly helped me–a VERY lost freshman–find my first Latin classroom. I was fortunate enough to see her kindness almost every day in the department, and I especially enjoyed working with Toni to prepare for Classics Day — I say “with” because, even though Toni always had the event planned down to the last detail, she always took the time to explain schedules to us, which she had carefully planned out well in advance so that everything ran smoothly.  I especially had fun working the sign in table with her, as many returning teachers and students either knew her as Holy Cross alums, or had come to know her over the years as the “brains behind the whole operation.” Toni’s hard work not only during Classics Day, but daily in the department, made everyone feel welcome and excited to be a part of the Classics community!

Lee Fratantuono ‘95

Toni Methe for years now has been the heart and soul of Holy Cross Classics.  Who can forget her wisdom, humor, kindness and generous help?  She guided so many student workers, majors, and friends of the Classics Department through so much.  She was a master of organizing the many and varied activities of the department, not least with her meticulously crafted flyers and posters…a vintage collection of which I fondly keep in my own office desk. She served a special, extraordinary role as travel secretary to the late, much missed Ken Happe on his many world travels, helping to share news of his adventures with his friends and colleagues.  Toni will never be replaced and always be remembered.  Her legacy of service to Holy Cross Classics is well deserved and assured.

William Ziobro ’66 (Professor Emeritus in Classics)

For well over 30 years I had the pleasure to work with Toni on planning many events for the Holy Cross Classics Department – from that of the Bean Scholarship to different Lecture Series. There was no event, or program, however, that Toni made more “her own” than Classics Day. She took complete ownership of the Day, from its early planning every year, to organizing the participation of Holy Cross Classics majors, to all internal contact at the College, and all external contact with so many schools throughout New England. She was the prime reason why Classics Day has grown from about 100 hundred students to 400 or 500 students. In the background of every chariot race, every lunch reservation, every security arrangement – the list goes on and on – Toni was the driving force. Thank you, Toni, for making this day so memorable for all the guests whom you have so cordially welcomed to the Holy Cross campus. Yours has been a job exceptionally well done. Congratulations!

Advanced Archaeology Course Explores “Time and Cosmos” Exhibit in NYC

March 7th, 2017 by Classics Department

By Kelsey Littlefield ‘17

On Saturday, February 25, fourteen students from Professor Neel Smith’s “Archaeology and Time” course explored the “Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity” exhibit, curated by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, an affiliate of New York University (NYU).

Christine Roughan ’14 (front left) welcomes the class to the “Time and Kosmos” exhibit.

Christine Roughan ’14, a Classics major and physics minor while at the College and currently a Ph.D. candidate at NYU, gave Prof. Smith’s class a private docent tour upon arrival. The exhibit allowed students to connect their previous knowledge of timekeeping methods garnered from the course with practical, technologically advanced possessions from antiquity. Some featured objects in the exhibit included numerous public and portable sundials (a way for the ancients to calculate the passage of time by observing the shadows cast by the sun); the Roman calendar, or fasti, carved in marble; surveying instruments; and other tools for timekeeping.

On the tour Roughan highlighted the importance of astrology and the zodiac symbols that we know in modernity as a way for ancient Greeks and Romans to reflect on time and the universe’s dual partnership that had the power to shape the environment and destiny.

“Archaeology and Time” is an advanced archaeology course that aims to understand what kinds of evidence and reasoning lie behind chronological claims about events, such as Xerxes invading Greece in 480 B.C. and Mount Vesuvius erupting precisely on Aug. 24, A.D. 79, by means of literary/historical sources and other dating methods. In addition, the course allows students to blend theoretical reasoning with hands-on research that will culminate in a research project that assesses and seeks to explain a chronological problem through the use of primary evidence.