Department of Classics
410 Blegen Library
PO Box 210226
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0226
Phone | (513) 556-3050
Fax | (513) 556-4366
The presentations for the 2013/2014 academic year are ready. The following is a list of this year's presentations.
Our wildly popular Outreach Program offers you engaging and ‘behind-the-scenes’ presentations about the ancient world. As an ‘outreach’ program, these presentations are entirely free – they are funded thanks to the kind generosity of an anonymous Cincinnati-based benefactor. The presentations that we offer draw on a broad range of subjects, and we hope at least one will complement your group or school’s interests. Our goal is to increase our community’s understanding of life in the ancient world, Cincinnati’s extraordinary contribution to unlocking the ancient past, and to share our enthusiasm for teaching about antiquity.
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POMPEII: LIFE FROM THE ASHES
Taylor Coughlan, Ph.D. Student
Walk with ancient Romans! This presentation will take students on a virtual tour of Pompeii, a Roman city buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Tour stops will include the town forum, an elite house, a “fast food joint,” the theatre district, the amphitheatre, and the cemeteries outside the city walls. At each stop, we will examine the ways in which the Latin language and the material remains of the town come together to bring the Roman past to life. The presentation will conclude with an interactive project. Students or residents, working in groups and with the aid of a glossary, will translate several inscriptions from Pompeian tombs. The entire group will then reconvene to discuss what the tombs tell us about the individuals buried there, and to imagine the places within the city where those individuals might have lived, worked, and played.
HOW TO PICK UP CHICKS IN ROME: AN INTRODUCTION TO LOVE AND LOVE POETRY AT ROME
Molly Miller, Ph.D. Student
What did it mean to be in love in ancient Rome? In this presentation we will examine Roman conceptions of love and sex and their expression in Latin love poetry (in particular Catullus and Ovid). Students of Latin will gain an overview of Latin love poetry and how that poetry stood in relation to Roman societal norms. This presentation will explore love in the Roman world, noting in particular that concepts that are held in high esteem in American society were far rarer, or even absent from the Roman understanding of love. The role and position of women and slaves in Roman society will also be examined as it relates to the topic of love.
RESURRECTING A DEAD LANGUAGE: WHO SPEAKS LATIN ANYMORE, ANYWAY?
Elizabeth Barnes, Ph.D. Student
Latin has long been considered a "dead" language -- but it doesn't have to be! While it is no longer used as the common language of any country or culture, it is still spoken by people today. Want to make small talk with your friends in Latin? Want to talk about the weather, sports, food, or what you're doing on the weekend? For this presentation, you will view Latin through the Romans' eyes, from the perspective of those who lived and breathed it. This is an an interactive, workshop-style presentation intended primarily for high school Latin classes. The purpose of the presentation is to introduce students to a different and more active way of approaching the Latin language, a perspective that is both eye-opening and fun.
SHERD NERDS: TRACING THE HISTORY OF ROME THROUGH ITS CERAMIC EVIDENCE
Kristina Neumann, Ph.D. Student
Wherever the archaeological site, whatever the time period, chances are the majority of the material remains uncovered will be pottery. This is certainly the case for an excavation focused on the Roman world, where the pieces range from transport vessels to elegant dishes. But how do archaeologists study these broken pieces? How can they tell a larger historical story? Join me – a “sherd nerd” who has participated in excavations in both Israel and Italy – as I explain how pottery was produced, moved and used around the Mediterranean. We will also dig in to the ongoing excavations at the Porta Stabia project at Pompeii to see how pottery is removed, sorted and studied.
STEP RIGHT UP: A TOUR OF THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS
Alison Fields, Ph.D. Student
A stone outcrop rising over the heart of Athens, the Acropolis was an important center of ancient Athenian religious worship and community gathering, and remains one of the most iconic images of the ancient world. In the 5th century BC, the Acropolis was the site of a large-scale building program, instigated by the general Pericles. During this time, the Acropolis and its new monuments, especially the Parthenon, became the symbol of Athens and Athenian greatness in the ancient Greek world. This richly illustrated presentation offers an overview of the history and monuments of the Acropolis, emphasizing the important roles the Acropolis played in how the people of Athens related to their gods, themselves, and others.
THE ROMAN ARMY: THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Andrew Connor, Ph.D. Student
Today, mention of the Roman army might conjure up images of movies like Gladiator or of re-enactors posing for photographs outside the Colosseum. In antiquity, however, the Roman army was a powerful force, not just militarily. It developed the road network that tied the empire together, brought men from around the Mediterranean to defend the borders, and took Rome from a village on the banks of a modest Italian river to unrivaled mastery of the western world. Along the way, it brought Cincinnatus, Julius Caesar, and Constantine (among others!) their fame and power. This talk will explore the life and times of the Roman army—how they fought, what they carried, and what they did when they weren’t fighting—using the wealth of available evidence, from literature and fine sculpture to the letters they wrote, the shoes they wore, and the graves they left behind.
WHAT DO ARCHAEOLOGISTS DO, ANYWAY?
Alison Fields, Ph.D. Student
This presentation explores the work of archaeologists and our place in society. The word “archaeologist” usually brings up images of Indiana Jones, treasure-hunting, or reanimated mummies. Real archaeology is not usually so Hollywood-friendly, but the field is full of both dangers and rewards. We will first discuss the goals of archaeology and how this discipline has contributed to our understanding of human history. We will then consider exactly what archaeologists do, including excavation, laboratory work, and experiments. We will look at a typical day on an excavation, including work, meals, accommodations, and recreation. Finally we will explore the role of archaeologists as advocates for the protection of our past.
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!: A DAY AT THE GLADIATORIAL GAMES
Kyle Helms, Ph.D. Student
We’ve all seen Hollywood’s depictions of gladiatorial combat, but what was a day at the games really like? Through the eyes of the Roman citizen Marcus, you’ll experience the full program of events at the spectacle that defined the Roman Empire and literally set the stage for many of today’s entertainments, including mixed-martial arts events and Spanish bullfights. Enjoy the history of the Colosseum, the greatest amphitheater of the Roman world, and watch as the action pits man against beast in the venationes. Hear about the training of the fighters, learn to tell the difference between types of gladiators based on their armor, and cheer on your favorite fighter in a final battle as an experienced retiarius attempts to win his freedom. Finally, exiting the amphitheater, you will discover the true meaning of what the Romans referred to as a vomitorium!
WHILE ROME BURNED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NERO, ROME'S MOST NOTORIOUS EMPEROR
Taylor Coughlan and Andrew Connor, Ph.D. Students
July 18, 64 AD: Rome is engulfed in flames. From his sprawling golden palace in the heart of the city, the emperor Nero watches the capital of the world burn as he plays his lyre. This image is one of the most famous from the ancient world, but is it true? Who was Nero? Did he watch the city burn? What caused writers, ancient and modern, to tell and retell these stories? The image of Nero, Rome's most notorious emperor, was shaped by a handful of men in antiquity and has survived over two thousand years. Where does it come from? Is it true? In this outreach talk, we will look at the different images of Nero, created by the state (coins, sculpture) and by his contemporaries. We will also consider the role that popular tales, whether of future presidents chopping down trees or of insane emperors launching purges and persecutions, play in shaping our picture of history.
DO YOU HAVE THE TIME? ANCIENT CONCEPTS OF TIME AND THE CALENDAR
David Schwei, Ph.D. Student
In our age of computers and atomic clocks, we divide our day minute by minute and rush not to be late by even a second. Could we have done this 200 years ago? What about 2,000 years ago? How did the ancient Greeks and Romans understand and tell time? In this presentation, we will explore what technology and methods were available to the ancients to know what time of day it was and whether this even mattered to them. The Roman calendar dictated not only during what times of day commerce could happen, but also on what days commerce, warfare, and government activities could take place. Politicians manipulated the calendar to help themselves, their families, and the city of Rome. But did their political opponents stop them from playing with and manipulating time? Did the stars and the seasons? Just how differently did the Greeks and Romans understand time than we do?
LIFE AND DEATH IN ANCIENT EGYPT
Simone Bates-Smith, Classics Major
King Tut, Pyramids, and Mummies. What is the first thing you think of when you hear Ancient Egypt? Their society is not much different from ours. The glamour and wealth of the rich over shadows the existence of the citizens and slaves who keep the country running. In this presentation, we'll consider the life of powerful Pharaohs together with common, working class Egyptians. We'll focus on their monuments including their tombs, art, literary evidence, and mummies to understand class differences better and the importance of the afterlife to all classes.
RUB A DUB DUB, ROMANS IN THE TUB
Chris Cloke, Ph.D. Student
Nowadays, most of us have a bathtub or shower in our home, but in ancient Rome, this was something only the very wealthy could afford. Early on, most people washed themselves with wash-basins (kind of like taking a bath using your sink), but over time very elaborate forms of social bathing developed, and public bath-houses became very popular hangout spots. The baths of ancient Rome, Pompeii, and other Roman cities were massive, lavishly-decorated buildings which made use of some of the ancient world’s most advanced engineering knowledge, and were places where people would go to swim, get clean, hold business meetings, discuss philosophy, and do all sorts of other things! This presentation takes a firsthand look at the archaeology of ancient baths and their descriptions in Greek and Latin literature to explain why going to the bath with everyone else in town became so popular among the ancient Romans, and why this practice disappeared over time.
COUSINS OF ROMULUS: ITALY BEFORE ROME
Amanda Pavlick, Ph.D. Student
Have you ever wondered what Italy was like before the Romans? Who were the people and what were the cultures that predated the group of huts on a hilltop that would eventually grow to rule the known world? The key element to Rome's success was its ability to incorporate elements of neighboring and subdued cultures, making itself a blend of the best - so who were the people who contested with Rome and helped create its culture? This presentation will give an overview of the major players in early Italy, including the Etruscans, the Latins, and the Samnites, blending their descriptions in Livy and other early authors with the materials found in archaeological excavations throughout Italy. Students or residents will gain a mental picture of the people who gave Rome a run for its money, and an appreciation for the kind of savvy and strategy that Rome needed to possess Italy and beyond.
ALL PORTS LEAD TO ROME: ROMAN TRADE
Catherine Baker, Ph.D. Student
Tin from England, grain from Egypt, oil from North Africa – trade was certainly an important part of the Roman Empire! In this presentation, we will discover how different goods, like olive oil, made its way from olive tree to amphora, from ship to port, and into the hands of Romans in cities all over the Empire. Who were traders in the ancient world? What were their lives like? What kinds of goods did they trade, and why were they important? How can a broken pot tell us about more about Roman trade? Using literature, inscriptions, graffiti, pottery, and archaeological evidence from towns and ports like Pompeii and Ostia, we’ll explore the lives of traders, merchants, and shopkeepers in the Roman world and discuss why trade was so important to the success of the Roman Empire.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
David Schwei, Ph.D. Student
We use money every day to purchase things we need or want, but how often do we stop to think about the coins or bills that pass through our hands? What do the designs on the bills and coins mean? Who or what do they honor? Currency provides a unique insight into a culture, and coins are an incredibly common artifact from ancient Greece and Rome. In this presentation we will discuss some of the ways in which Romans used coins as part of their propaganda machines (and which still continues today!), and ways in which we can learn about the ancient economy from the discovery of extraordinary coin hoards.
GREEK ATHLETICS: THE BIRTH OF SPORTS
Andrew Connor, Ph.D. Student
Every four years, the Olympic torch leaves the modern country of Greece to make its way around the world. Why is Greece the world’s spiritual home of athletics? This presentation will examine the rich history of Greek athletics, from the earliest running races to the hugely popular horse races and no-holds-barred fights, as well as the material remains of those games, including the great sanctuaries of Olympia, Nemea, and Delphi. In addition, we will explore what athletics meant to the average Greek, and why a gymnasium was one of the first buildings erected in a new city. Fans of modern sports will see many of the same problems—cheating scandals, untimely injuries, and amateurism questions, for instance—as well as less familiar ones—the sacred truce during competitions, Olympic glory for heralds or trumpeters, and how best to create new competitions in foreign lands. We will, in short, explore the role of Greek athletics in shaping not only the modern Olympics but modern culture.
THE ROMAN CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
David Schwei, Ph.D Student
Democracy. Americans have sought to spread this form of government throughout the world in the twentieth century, but how did we get it? The United States of America was born from one of many monarchies of the eighteenth century. In a rejection of monarchy, the Founding Fathers sought inspiration in the ideas of Montesquieu and especially in the ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Fathers were steeped in classical education. They studied ancient Greek and Latin at school, assembled libraries of classical literature, and imitated ancient architecture, such as at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. This presentation will discuss the influence of ancient Greek and Roman authors on the American constitution: how the writings of the statesman Cicero and of the historian Polybius guided James Madison and the other Founding Fathers as they crafted a new Constitution and a new nation.
IRON MEN AND MUTANTS: WHAT ARE HEROES MADE OF?
Bea Peruzzi or Emilia Oddo, Ph.D. Students
Superman. Percy Jackson. Voldemort. Batman. The Joker. Medusa. In modern film, literature, and art, we regularly encounter fictional characters who represent ideals of heroism and villainry. Stories about heroes and villains are not just entertaining, they also reveal information about the dos and don’ts of our contemporary society. Ancient Greeks also loved to tell tales about heroes who were sent on quests to prove their abilities and to help keep the land safe from monsters and brigands. These myths were used in antiquity to express complex ideas about ancient ethics, civic pride, and cultural identity. This interactive presentation analyzes our concept of heroism and compares it with that of the ancient Greeks through the stories of Hercules, Perseus and the other Greek heroes. By using examples from ancient material culture and modern pop culture, we explore what mythology can tell us about ancient Greece and its political and cultural life.
DIGGING UP HOMER
Emily Egan, Ph.D. Student
Did the Trojan War really happen? This presentation is designed to give students and residents an introduction to the archaeological evidence for one of the most gripping stories of the ancient world, Homer’s Iliad. Discussion focuses on archaeological excavations at Bronze Age palaces in Greece including those of Agamemnon and Nestor at Mycenae and Pylos, and from the citadel at Troy. Different forms of archaeological evidence including ceramics, fortifications, weapons, wall paintings, bones, and bathtubs paint a varied and dynamic picture of an ancient way of life. But is this enough to prove Homer’s tale? To answer this tantalizing question, this presentation looks at the problems involved when Homer and archaeology are brought together and what archaeologists are doing to figure out the best ways to determine if “X” truly marks the spot.
MAN OF GLORY, MAN OF MYSTERY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Emilia Oddo, Ph.D. Student
Alexander the Great lived in the faraway land of Macedonia, at the northern borders of Greece. He was an extraordinary man but a mysterious one who continues to puzzle and fascinate the modern world as he did the ancient one. Many questions concerning Alexander are still very difficult to answer. For example, what does and did it mean being from Macedonia? Was Alexander a Greek or was he a Macedonian? Has it ever mattered? What we know about his life is connected to his deeds and public role as a conqueror and a leader, but we still know very little about his late life, his death, or even the place where he was buried. Let’s embark on a trip to Alexander’s homeland, Macedonia, where we can explore together the rich royal tombs of his family in the town of Vergina, looking for clues that can help us unveil the mysteries of this “Great” leader. On the road, we will uncover what we still have in common with Alexander himself.
IT’S ALL GREEK
Austin Chapman, Ph.D. Student
You didn’t really think Latin was the only ancient language, did you? Sure, there were lots of ancient languages, and most of them disappeared, never to be seen again. But some survived in ancient texts, and we can read them if we learn them. Come, join me for a day of learning Greek, the language spoken by the other major civilization of Classical Antiquity, as it was spoken and written in the times of Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great! You will learn to recognize its unique alphabet, pronounce its words, and compare its forms with Latin.
RETURN TO SENDER: LETTER WRITING IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
Taylor Coughlan, Ph.D. Student
Today most of us communicate with our friends and family through email, skype, text messaging, or our cell-phones. In the ancient societies of Greece and Rome the only way to reach someone who lived on the other side of Italy or the Mediterranean was to send a letter. Many letters of many different varieties have survived from the ancient Graeco-Roman world. This presentation will examine what information about the history, culture, and people of the ancient world we can glean from these interesting sources. From letters recovered from the sands of Egypt that provide a glimpse into the life of locals, to Cicero’s private letters to his friends covering the tumultuous end of the Roman Republic, to more “literary” letters such as those of Pliny and Ovid’s fictional letters between mythological characters, the ancient letter is a treasure-trove of exciting information. Reading these letters together we will learn just what personal correspondence can tell us about the ancient world and the people who inhabited it.
THINGS THAT WENT BUMP IN THE NIGHT: VAMPIRES, WITCHES, WEREWOLVES AND GHOSTS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
Desiree Gerner, Ph.D. Student
Tales of supernatural beings have experienced a rise in popularity in recent years, but did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans had their own versions of these creatures? This presentation explores the myths and legends surrounding these characters in antiquity. We will also take a look at some of their modern counterparts in contemporary entertainment. Along the way, we’ll find out that when it comes to the imaginary things that both frighten and amuse us, we’re not so different from the ancients after all!
“A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO FOUNTAIN SQUARE:” ROME AND THE ROOTS OF THE MODERN CITY
Kristina Neumann, Ph.D. Student
If an ancient Roman traveled to modern-day Cincinnati, what would he or she think? Certainly the technology would be shocking, but in many ways, both cities have much in common. Indeed, modern cities trace their roots back to the ancient Greek "polis" and the Roman "civitas," including governmental structures and entertainment facilities. With Rome and Cincinnati, however, the similarities are all the more striking. Let's take a walk along the Ohio and Tiber rivers, comparing the many buildings in terms of their architecture, arrangement and the different functions they play (for example: the Colosseum and Paul Brown Stadium!). We will discover how alike the modern city and its citizens are to the ancient civitas.
HOME SWEET HOME: ROMAN HOUSES AND EVERYDAY LIFE
Bea Peruzzi, Ph.D. Student
Hollywood didn’t invent high living and lavish houses! Some of the residences recovered in Pompeii and Rome by archeologists have intricate mosaic floors, marble bathrooms, and sophisticated gardens, complete with famous statues and even private pools and saunas! We will investigate the architecture of these houses and the lifestyle of their inhabitants. Did you know that every morning rich Romans would be visited by dozens of their neighbors? Or how many slaves worked behind the scene to keeps these houses clean and their owners happy? Let’s live one day in the life of the rich and powerful in Rome and see how they ate, where they slept, where they conducted their business and, more importantly, where they partied!
ANCIENT ART FROM THE UC CLASSICS STUDY COLLECTION
Carol Hershenson, PhD Student and Curator of the Classics Study Collection
Get up close and personal with genuine objects of ancient art! This presentation brings a selection of artifacts from the Classics Study Collection to your classroom and community to encourage a hands-on discussion of their place in Greek art and society. We’ll consider the full life of the piece of ‘art’, including its creation utilizing local resources, the techniques of producing Greek pottery (illustrated with actual examples), a discussion of “What is Art?”, and an exercise on how archaeologists learn from these fragments of the past. Students and residents have the opportunity to handle the artifacts, and to examine our finest vases more closely than they will ever see them in a museum.
YES, IT’S REAL! VISIT THE DEPARTMENT OF CLASSICS STUDY COLLECTION
Professors Steven Ellis, Eleni Hatzaki, and Kathleen Lynch
The Department of Classics owns a modest study collection of ancient objects: ceramics, coins, tablets, seals, and small statues. Much of the pottery is fragmentary, which permits hands-on activities. Groups of 20 or fewer are invited to arrange a visit of one to two hours. Students and residents would be introduced to the relationship of use to form and decoration of pottery, the way archaeologists learn from broken pottery, how pictures convey messages on pots and coins, and how museums care for objects. A great opportunity for your students and residents to interact with objects over 2500 years old! Contact Program Coordinator to make arrangements.