Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

The 2014-15 year saw three prestigious fellowships awarded to members of UC’s Classics Department. Lauren Donovan Ginsberg and Peter van Minnen won research grants from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and Steven Ellis won the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the ACLS Foundation.


Lauren Donovan Ginsberg will use her Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship to work on a monograph on the Octavia, a historical drama on the court of Nero and the tragedy of Nero’s first wife. Combining intertextual analysis with cultural memory theory, her book examines (1) how the Octavia, as a work of ‘history,’ intervenes in and rewrite the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty in light of that dynasty’s destruction, and (2) how, as a work of literature, it actively reinterprets the often regime-celebrating literary canon that the Julio-Claudian age left behind. The Octavia offers a unique opportunity to explore the memory culture of the early empire: it is the sole surviving historical drama from ancient Rome, and it is also likely the earliest surviving literary representation of the Julio-Claudians from the post-Julio-Claudian period. Through its investigation of this fascinating yet understudied text, Ginsberg’s book will offer a new perspective on literature’s role in shaping the way Nero and his family would be remembered.

Steven Ellis will use his Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship to return to the American Academy in Rome for the 2015-16 academic year. His project will be the publication of his archaeological excavations of a large, sub-elite neighborhood of Pompeii. The excavations and publication program are of an unprecedented scale for the study of Pompeii, and aim to chart the socio-economic developments of a series of houses, shops, and workshops over centuries of occupation. The results are contributing a new understanding of the connections between urban infrastructure (especially waste management) and the construction of cities, while also revealing the structural and social relationships over time between Pompeian households of variable economic portfolios, determining the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of Roman urban networks, and registering their response to city- and Mediterranean-wide historical, political, and economic developments.

Peter van Minnen will use his Loeb Classical Library Foundation Fellowship to work on a monograph entitled: Alexandria in the Age of Augustus. This is an in-depth study of about 120 Greek papyrus documents from Alexandria (found elsewhere in Egypt) that deal with loans, leases, and sales; marriage and divorce; and wet nursing and other labor arrangements between hundreds of private individuals in early Roman Alexandria, including Egyptians, Greeks, Jews, and Romans. The documents graphically illustrate the occurrence side by side of various strands of Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, and Roman law. There is nothing like it for any other major city in the ancient world. Alexandria in the Age of Augustus adds yet another papyrological project to the Classics department (we also edit the journal of the American Society of Papyrologists); exemplifies a corpus-based analysis of a society, its legal system, and its language; and highlights the roles of non-elite women, minors, and slaves in history.