Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

Monessa Cummins, who received her Ph.D. in our Classics Department in 1993, has been awarded the 2018 Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level by the Society for Classical Studies. Professor Cummins has taught at Grinnell College for nearly thirty-five years where she has instructed in almost every course offered by her department. Her dissertation on myth and narrative convention in Pindar and Bacchylides provided her with expertise in Greek poetry and a starting point for her publications, but she has also gone on to teach and design a wide range of civilization-based courses. Her citation emphasizes the role model she provided her students outside of the classroom: her letters are full of stories of her humanity, her caring attitude, and the demands she placed on her students. One of her faculty colleagues calls her teaching “challenging, effective, and inspiring.” Professor Cummins attributes her remarkable teaching success to the multidisciplinary training she received in our department. As she explains, “seminars in the Athenian empire, the Roman constitution, and Greek sculpture, among others, fired my interest unexpectedly in the material culture in which the texts I cherished were embedded. It was the broad graduate curriculum in Classical Studies at Cincinnati that set me on the road to becoming the generalist I consider myself today, and which I have to be in order to teach effectively in a small liberal arts college.” Our warm congratulations to Professor Cummins!


The Outreach Program in Classics at the University of Cincinnati began with a pilot season in 2008 and is now entering its tenth year with a wide and impactful reach throughout the Cincinnati community. Our program annually organizes around 10-15 high quality, interactive, student-centered educational modules on various aspects of antiquity from Gladiators to Pompeii, the Roman Army to Pot Sherds. Each lesson is developed by one of our talented PhD students in close connection with faculty mentors on the departmental Outreach Committee who assist in selection of materials and the creation of interactive presentations. We then advertise this annually changing menu of programming to local and regional school districts and other organizations who use a central portal to request whichever topic best suits their curricular needs and or members’ interest. Each individual lesson is then further tailored to the specific needs of the requester, taking into account age, class-size, previous knowledge of antiquity, and any other factors that the requester feels is important to ensure an engaging and productive interaction.

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Our programs, moreover, are entirely free to the requesting school or organization. This means – and this is crucial – that there is no barrier to entry for school systems or organizations with less robust funding for enrichment activities; in fact, we view our programming as helping such school systems or organizations diversify their curricular offerings and enrich their programming. Our commitment to continuing to sponsor (and expand!) this free programming reflects our wider commitment to being an active partner with the diverse Cincinnati community and to open up important dialogues about Classics and the ancient world with community members at all ages and from all backgrounds.

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Over the course of our 10 years running this Outreach Program, we have conducted over 700 presentations and reached over 16,000 members of the Cincinnati community. And we are only getting started.

We are therefore delighted to be the recipient of the 2018 Outreach Award from the national organization the Society for Classical Studies. Their recognition of our home-grown program will help its visibility and ensure its growth for the next ten years.

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The Classics Outreach Program of the University of Cincinnati

The Outreach Prize Committee is very happy to award the 2018 SCS Outreach Prize to the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Outreach Program.

For a decade now, the Classics Outreach Program has been taking the “Classics for All” mission to heart. In close consultation with faculty members who serve as mentors, Cincinnati Classics graduate students have been meeting with a wide variety of local audiences and sharing with them the wonders of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Ancient Mediterranean more broadly.

Driven by their love of teaching and passion for the material, the members of the Outreach Program have devoted their time and energy to bringing the classical world in all its complexity to many who would not otherwise have such a chance to explore them: students in elementary, middle, and high schools (private and public; suburban and inner-city); community and youth centers; and the elderly in retirement communities and nursing homes. UC’s Outreach Program has thus helped cultivate interest in classical culture amongst a broad range of constituents.

A typical year in the program involves upward of 75 presentations to an average of 2,000 members of the community on topics ranging from gladiators, Pompeii, the Roman army, pot sherds, women in the Odyssey, to the classical roots of the city of Cincinnati. Topics are chosen in close consultation with requesters from the community to make sure that particular desiderata are met.

We are deeply impressed by UC Classics’ Outreach Program and their continued dedication, not just to sharing their passion for the classical world, but to using it as a vehicle for developing relationships with audiences outside of the Ivory Tower. The sheer diversity of those audiences commends the program to us especially, as do its reach, the effort and time involved in maintaining the program, and the continued fostering of an ethos of service in the profession. Its community-mindedness and warm engagement with non-elite and non-traditional audiences offers a noteworthy model for academe’s interaction with the public.

The Cincinnati Program adopts an energetic and personalized approach to creating dialogue with the local community at large. Highlighting the intrinsic value of studying antiquity is fundamental in their initiatives. Of equal importance are the exchanges and connections that the program makes possible. They take care to make every interaction dialogic, thereby recognizing that this is a two-way exchange, and enriching for all involved.

For these reasons and more we are, once again, very pleased to award the 2018 SCS Outreach Prize to the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Outreach Program.

Daniel Harris-McCoy, Chair

Emily Allen-Hornblower

Elizabeth Manwell

Professor Jack Davis has contributed a chapter on Carl Blegen and the Classics Department to the recently published book From the Temple of Zeus to the Hyperloop: University of Cincinnati Stories, edited by Greg Hand.  This book, along with Associate Dean David Stradling’s book In Service to the City: A History of the University of Cincinnati, was published by UC Press to celebrate the Bicentennial of the University.  From the Temple of Zeus to the Hyperloop contains several short stories of the UC experience and can be purchased here.

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There will be a free reception to celebrate the publication of From the Temple of Zeus to the Hyperloop and In Service to the City at the Mercantile Library on December 5th at 6:00 pm.  Registration to this event can be found on the Mercantile Library’s website.   

The University of Cincinnati’s annual Certamen was hosted Saturday, November 3rd, by Classics Club, Mu chapter of ΗΣΦ, and the Ohio Senior Classical League. The event, which supports the high school Latin community in Cincinnati, was a great success!  Certamen is a Classics-based academic tournament, with teams competing to answer the most questions pertaining classical history, mythology, and art, as well as Latin grammar, vocabulary, and literature.

 Summit first intermediate story2  Intermediate First Place Winners Jimmy Fraley, Kendall Richard, Jennifer Sullivan, and Irene Calderon from Summit Country Day School

mcauley first advanced story 2 Advanced First Place Winners Gabrielle Kammerer and Katlyn Havlin from Mercy McAuley High School


Associate Professor of Classics Steven Ellis has recently published The Roman Retail Revolution with Oxford University Press.

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The Roman Retail Revolution offers a thorough investigation into the social and economic worlds of the Roman shop, focusing on food and drink outlets in particular. Combining critical analysis of both archaeological material and textual sources, it challenges many of the conventional ideas about the place of retailing in the Roman city and unravels the historical development of tabernae to identify three major waves or revolutions in the shaping of retail landscapes. The volume is underpinned by two new and important bodies of evidence: the first generated from the University of Cincinnati's recent archaeological excavations into a Pompeian neighborhood of close to twenty shop-fronts, and the second resulting from a field-survey of the retail landscapes of more than a hundred cities from across the Roman world. The richness of this information, combined with the volume's interdisciplinary approach to the lives of the Roman sub-elite, results in a refreshingly original look at the history of retailing and urbanism in the Roman world.

In October, papyrus from West Virginia visited the Classics department, to be restored and read by Professor Peter van Minnen. At some point, the Sunrise Museum in Charleston, WV, acquired a sizeable papyrus from Egypt in multiple fragments. When the museum moved to a new location (the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston), the collections were pruned of unwanted items. These were then distributed among other institutions. The papyrus ended up at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, where it is now part of the Archaeological and Ethnographic Collections. Its curator, Anthropology professor Nick Freidin, prodded one of his students, Michelle Young, an Anthropology senior, to contact Peter van Minnen, who had earlier restored the Duke University papyrus collection.

Michelle transported the papyrus from Huntington to Cincinnati and back. It took Peter almost a week to restore the papyrus, read the text, and get the papyrus photographed. The text consists of three columns of a Greek list of tax payments from Heracleopolis in Middle Egypt. The palaeography suggests a fifth-century date for the papyrus. The text is missing just a few entries at the top and originally recorded almost 100 individuals, all men, who paid relatively small amounts of money, ranging between 1/4th of a solidus (a gold coin) and 1 1/4 solidus. The tax may have been an ad hoc levy on the urban population. Such direct taxes on people were rare in Late Antiquity, when most taxes were on land. This is in notable contrast to the earlier Roman Empire, when landowners were relatively lightly taxed and direct taxes on people were high.

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Before coming to Cincinnati, Emilia taught at Dartmouth College and New York University. She received her PhD at the University of Toronto, which is her hometown. She was enticed by the University of Cincinnati’s renowned John Miller Burnam Classics Library, unique intradisciplinary department, and dynamic community of students. It definitely is not about the chili, she says.

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Her main research interests lie in republican poetry and Plautine comedy in particular. She is currently writing a book about the letters in Plautus, which looks at the embedded epistles as plot devices and agents of comic mischief but also as emblems of the dramatic script. She has also written on various other Plautine topics, including novelty and reception. She has some articles on Greek epistolography. She has become increasingly fascinated by the interaction between letters and comedy in imperial Greek literature, when comic personae move from the stage to the ‘page’ and become letter-writers in fictional epistolary collections.

When she’s not buried in Plautus, her other interests include long-distance running, theater, and (above all else) her dog Chloe, depicted below. Chloe and Emilia met just before Emilia started her dissertation, so she has truly been with her through it all.

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If you walk past Emilia’s office, you may hear voices, but don’t be so quick to blame the resident ghosts of Blegen Library! Emilia prefers to read her writing aloud and recites everything. In addition to supervising all beginner Latin courses this year, Emilia has taught Latin Prose this semester and will be teaching a Latin Novel course next semester. Although she’s been called a fantastic and fair instructor by our students, you can always use gummy candy to get on her good side.

The Department of Classics in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Cincinnati invites applications for a tenure-track position in Ancient Greek and Latin language and literature at the rank of Assistant Professor, to begin August 15, 2019. 

Qualifications: A Ph.D. in Classics or a related field (e.g., Comparative Literature) is required prior to the date of appointment. Candidates must demonstrate, through their writing sample or published work, capacity for high-quality scholarly research in a field of Ancient Greek or Latin literature. They must have developed the ability, through their Ph.D. program or other experience, to teach Ancient Greek and Latin language and literature at all levels (undergraduate and graduate) as well as undergraduate courses in literature in English translation and classical civilization. They must also show interest in working within an interdisciplinary department that educates students in philology, ancient history, and archaeology. More information about the department can be found on our website:

Application procedure: Candidates must apply online at and search for Requisition #34066. In addition to completing the online application, candidates should attach within the electronic application a cover letter (letter of application), a CV, and a writing sample of at least 20 pages. A one-page statement addressing the candidate’s intended contributions to the University’s goals of diversity and inclusion, through teaching, research and mentoring, is also required. In addition, three confidential letters of reference should be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line “Philology Search.”

The committee will review applications beginning November 15, 2018, and, where possible, conduct interviews at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in San Diego, January 3-6, 2019. The position will remain open until filled.