Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

The Department of Classics in 2013 expanded its infrastructure considerably when it completed the remodeling of a suite of rooms that had previously belonged to the Classics library. 


This magnificent area now provides the department with much needed work space for archaeological projects and archival storage as well as offices, a home for our collection of glass slides, headquarters for the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, a laboratory for the Pylos excavations, and a new conference and meeting room. 

In early March the complex was inaugurated with a reception in honor of emerita professor Gisela Walberg, at which a display of posters describing her research at the Bronze Age center of Midea in the Argolid was exhibited. 


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Gisela Walberg with one of the Dirt on Midea displays


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The main workroom filled


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The main workroom waiting


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The new Conference Room

Our Alumni are getting more tenure track positions.

Dan Osland (2011) in the Department of Classics at Otago University (New Zealand)

Sean O'Neill (2011) at Hanover College in Indiana

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Five scholars will represent the UC Classics community at the 109th Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS). Their paper abstracts are below.

Charles S. Campbell
Femmes Fatales: the lure of the foreign in Philodemus (AP 5.132) and Catullus (c. 51)

Greece captured her savage conqueror and introduced the arts to rustic Latium” (Horace, Ep., 2.1.156-7). The Greek epigrammatist Antipater of Sidon (2nd c. BCE) brings this well-known topos—often referred to simply as “Graecia capta”—into play in an epigram (AP 9.567) on a female dancer called Antiodemis who has migrated to Italy. She is going, he concludes, “in order to make Rome give up war and the spear with her mollifying charm” (7-8). The poem belongs to a minor “sub-genre” of Greek epigram represented before Antipater by Dioscorides (late 3rd c. BCE; AP 5.137) and later by Crinagoras (1st c. CE; AP 9.429). These poems play on the popular notion of mimesis whereby the qualities of a performance or performer—in these poems a ‘femme fatale’— have the power to mold the ψυ χ ή of the audience (for the idea, cf., ultimately, Plato, Rep. 605a-e). Antipater’s contribution is to direct the performer’s influence not at an individual but an entire society.

While this epigram has been read as a critique of Roman military aggression against Greece during this period (so Penzel, 2006, 171), it is easy to imagine the appeal it might have had for a Roman audience. Like Antiodemis, Antipater himself had made the journey from east to west and become rather famous as a member of the entourage of Quintus Lutatius Catulus (cf. the glowing notice at Cicero, de or., 3.194). So, instead of threatening Rome with enervation through foreign influence, Antipater plays (ironically?) on the widespread anxiety among the Roman audience about this very possibility.

In this paper, I would like to argue that Antipater’s modification of the figure of the femme fatale was taken up by two later poets, Philodemus (AP 5.132) and Catullus (c. 51), who used it as a vehicle for the expression of two different perspectives on the ‘Graecia capta’ topos: Philodemus ingeniously inverts Antipater’s formulation. His femme fatale is an Oscan woman named Flora, who, he says, “does not sing the poems of Sappho” (AP 5.132.7). The cultured Greek is here undone by the uncultured Italian—the very opposite of the elegiac docta puella (following Gow-Page, 1965, II.382 and Sider, 1997, 108). The femme fatale of Catullus c. 51—his translation of Sappho fr. 31— meanwhile, is either, per the recent suggestion of Young, 2011, Sappho herself, or at any rate a Sapphica puella like Lesbia whose beguilements may prove destructive. Philodemus’ epigram and Catullus’ poem are mirror images of one another.

Whether or not we accept a direct relationship between these poems of Catullus and Philodemus—or between them and Antipater’s epigram—they remain illustrative not only of the interest among Latin as well as Greek poets in the ‘Graecia capta’ topos, but also of the use of the female as a vehicle for the figuration of the intercultural dynamics that underlie the topos.

Andrew Connor
"Not War, but Man-Eating": P.Oxy. 42.3065 and the Language of Chaos

A letter (P.Oxy. 42.3065) written in the third century from a man named Arius to his parents, Agrippina and Cornelius, in the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus preserves a most interesting claim. His tone is tense and he notes, somewhat cryptically, his escape from “the city” (probably Alexandria) and the chaos that has enveloped it. While the street battles that periodically broke out in Alexandria throughout much of the Roman period are familiar, it is Arius’ choice of words that piques our interest. The fighting was not, he says, war (polemos) but man-eating (anthropofageia), a delightfully vivid word. In this paper, I argue that Arius’ letter ought not be read literally but rather as the product of a literary tradition that couched the description of mob violence, especially in the Nile valley, in terms of cannibalism. The Roman satirist Juvenal, for instance, in his fifteenth satire, paints a captivating, if implausible, tale of two warring Egyptian villages, Ombos and Tentyra, finally settling their quarrel. In typically Juvenalian hyperbole, they do this through a pitched battle that turns into a rout and then a cannibal feast. We need not (and should not) take this account as anything approaching the actual goings-on in Roman Egypt. Not only Juvenal, but Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride 72) and Dio Cassius (68.32) describe inter-community violence in Egypt that spills over to illicit eating, both of sacred animals and of people. When, therefore, Arius, fleeing an Alexandria inflamed by its periodic bursts of violence, attempted to capture in writing the chaos of his experiences, it was to the by-now traditional, if overheated, language of literature that he turned.

Rose MacLean
Panel Co-Organizer
Imperial Freedmen's Contributions to the Ideology of Empire

Studies of Roman freedmen tend to focus either on the beliefs and practices of slave-owners or on recovering the freedman’s perspective – a bifurcation that risks replicating ancient hierarchies, on the one hand, or downplaying the limits of ex-slaves’ freedom, on the other. I attempt to strike a balance between these approaches by examining the exchange of ideas between freedmen and the freeborn ruling orders. As a test case, I consider the ways in which the familia Caesaris contributed to the development of imperial ideology. I argue that the emperor’s freedmen were active participants in the rise of monarchy, particularly in modeling for the elite how to negotiate one’s relationship to the princeps.

Whitney B. Snead
A Discriminating Market: The Creation of a Euxine Emporion in Acharnians

In Aristophanes’ Acharnians, Dikaiopolis has grown weary of life in a polis. The apathetic citizens (17-22), ineffectual policies (59-124), and the sycophantic reliance on a cash economy (29-36) have compelled him to seek out, Amphitheus, a new god to broker peace with Sparta and establish a novel community away from Athens. Once he enters into this separate peace, settling into his rural home, Dikaiopolis’ life is good and ultimately triumphant. His departure away from the polis to some other location, his general tolerance to all foreigners, and his decision to operate a barter-only emporion are what make Dikaiopolis so successful.

This paper will argue that Dikaiopolis plays the role of an oikistes; but instead of creating yet another possibly corrupt “home away from home,” he founds an emporion, similar to those established around the Black Sea by Ionian colonizers. At the time Acharnians was produced in 425, the Greek settlements around the Euxine littoral were known to a majority of the audience. And while many scholars have viewed the comedy as a criticism of the prolonged Peloponnesian War, I suggest that it is also a commendation of the new inclusive policies of the Black Sea communities. The emporia of the Black Sea in particular, were remarkable for their multiethnic populations, comprehensive laws and regulations to promote international trade, and a successful bartering system that lasted up until the Roman period.

When Dikaiopolis goes to Euripides to get a beggar’s costume, he disavows the costumes of Phoenix, Philoctetes, and Bellerophon for that of Telephus, a Greek who established his own kingdom among hostiles, away from his fellow Greeks. Although the hero claims he is from the deme Cholleidai (406), the new location of his emporion is not clear, only that it is away from Athens and rural (202-40). After he performs the appropriate foundation rites with his household (247-79), Dikaiopolis ensures that the emporion is also outfitted with the proper paraphernalia: boundary stones (719), market-place laws (723), an inscribed treaty (727-8), and even taxation (896).

In the later bartering scenes, Aristophanes is keen to show how Dikaiopolis’ rejection of coinage, the transportable symbol of a polis, and his acceptance of foreigners is an ideal concept in a time of war, poverty, and destructive imperialism. The Boeotian trader makes the winning principles of the emporion explicit: he brings all the goods found only in Boeotia in hopes of exchanging them for goods only in Athens (873). Such an exchange ensures cooperation and lasting peace. And when Dikaiopolis feasts it is on exotic foods. It clearly was not just poverty that prevented him from eating well, but also the embargoes against Athens enemies. He rejects the soldier Lamachus’ business in spite of (or because of) being offered three drachma (966-8). This rejection of a polis mentality, frees Dikaiopolis from dealing with the typical by-products of the polis: litigious informers, greedy cheats, and political rivals (842-59).

By 425, most of Attica was hold up in the city walls. The plague of 430 had not yet tapered off. Pericles was dead and the city’s financial reserves were depleted. And yet Panticapaeum on the Kerch Strait was effortlessly supplying grain to Athens. The citizens of Panticapaeum were decorating their homes with fine ware pottery and gold jewelry. Istros in modern Romania had successfully repelled the Persians with the help of their Getic neighbors and Borysthenes-Olbia enlarged their city and enriched their community with great temples to Apollo. In the Black Sea there were exemplars everywhere for Athens to emulate. Aristophanes with his Dikaiopolis was showing the way.

David A. Schwei
Nikai on Coins and Pottery from Gela in Context

The iconography of coins is often studied in relative isolation, but much more about the meaning of these images can be ascertained by examining them within the visual vocabulary and broader cultural milieu of ancient Greece. In Sicily, depictions of Nikai appear on the tetradrachms of Gela and Syracuse at the beginning of the fifth century B.C., but it is ambiguous whether the Nikai commemorated the Deinominids’ military or athletic victories, or both. Gelon, the tyrant of Gela and later Syracuse, and his sons won many athletic victories in the 480s and 470s, but they also won major military victories—the capture of Syracuse in 485 and the Battle of Himera in 480.

Nikai appear on more than just coins. Gelon dedicated a tripod and Nike at Delphi, and Nikai are often depicted on Attic pottery imported to Sicily. The archaeological context in which these vessels were found is important to the meaning of the goddess’s image in Sicily. Attic pottery with images of Nike were primarily imported to Gela, but not to Syracuse. Hardly any vessels with Nike depictions were imported to Akragas, another major Sicilian city. At Gela, the images of Nike are found on vessels deposited in male graves and are very common from 475- 450 (Torelli 2003). This masculine funerary context suggests that the images on the pottery likely commemorate the Deinomenid military victories achieved by Geloan soldiers in the battles of the 480s. Therefore, similarly, the Nikai on the Sicilian coins are more likely to relate to the Geloan military than to the athletic victories. The Geloan citizens and the mint demonstrated their pride in their victories through their coins and choice of imported pottery, but only the Syracusan mint commemorated the city’s defeat by Gelon.

In addition to clarifying the meaning of the coins’ iconography, the pattern of Nike images is important for understanding the trade in Attic figured-pottery. Even though Akragas, Gela, and Syracuse are on the same trade route, Gela strongly preferred pottery featuring Nike (Giudice 1996, Giudice 2007). Indeed, nearly 40 pots with Nike dating from 475-450 were found in Gela, but only one was found at Akragas. This concentration of pottery with depictions of Nike shows a clear Geloan taste for images of Nike to commemorate their military victories. The Athenian pottery industry targeted these tastes and sold many pots with depictions of Nike to Gela. Several Athenian painters exported multiple depictions of Nike to Gela, and the Bowdoin Painter even exported more than ten pots with Nike. Just as the context of the pottery sheds light on Sicilian coins’ iconography, it also provides greater insights into trade in Attic pottery.

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On Saturday, December 1, 2012 the department hosted its first annual Certamen, in which local high school students competed in answering questions on Latin and mythology. UC Classics major Michelle Martinez organized the event, with the help of Larry Dean (ABD from UC), who teaches at from Summit Country Day. Other participating schools and teachers included Jeff Brickler from Nagel/Turpin (B.A. from UC, M.A. from OSU), Tara Ligon from Walnut Hills (B.A. and M.A. from UC), David Ligon from Ursuline (pictured above, ABD from UC), Kyle Lovett from McAuley (B.A. from UC), K.C. Kless and Mark Atwood (M.A. from UC) from Indian Hill, Mark Torlone from Sycamore, and Brian Sebastian from Seven Hills.

Ron Jackson, Dean of UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed the students. Susan Prince (Director of Undergraduate Studies and faculty organizer of the event), Lauren Ginsberg, Kathryn Gutzwiller, and Jacquie Riley spoke to the participants about the Classics program at UC.

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Our own Kathleen Lynch has won the coveted James R. Wiseman Award from the Archaeological Institute of America. The Wiseman Award is given annually to the book that the AIA deems most worthy of recognition in the year. 

Dr. Lynch's book is titled The Symposium in Context: Pottery from a Late Archaic House near the Athenian Agora published as part of the Hesperia series by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. You can see more information about the book, and an interview with Dr. Lynch at their website.

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We are pleased to introduce University of Cincinnati Classics, our new departmental Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/Classics.UC

The University of Cincinnati Classics Facebook page is a space for members of our community to connect with each other and with people interested in Classics worldwide. University of Cincinnati Classics provides a medium for us to increase our outreach efforts, and allows us to publicize news, events, links and articles, and even course offerings to an audience that encompasses and extends beyond UC.

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Susan Prince's work is highlighted in the McMicken Monthly

Are cynics and happiness mutually exclusive? For modern cynics, perhaps. But for the ancient Cynics, not necessarily.

Research by the University of Cincinnati's Susan Prince shows that despite the historical perception of the ancient Cynics as harsh, street-corner prophets relentlessly condemning all passersby and decrying society's lack of virtue, these Greek philosophers, indirectly descended from Socratic teaching, weren't all doom and gloom. They actually might have espoused a shortcut to happiness.

Read more

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Jack L. Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology in the Department of Classics, was elected on October 25 to the board of the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and on October 26 as a Trustee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Davis returned to Cincinnati in August after a five-year absence to serve as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. He is the first former director to be named to the board of the Gennadius Library and only the second in the 130-year history of ASCSA to be appointed to its Board of Trustees.