Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

Here you will find an exciting list of topics. All can be modified to meet your own interests and are flexible in terms of time. When you see a topic that sounds good, please fill out our online presentation order form with your preferred dates and presentation topics. UC’s semester system means that we will have presenters available from now through early May, 2019.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT: MAN OF GLORY (New Offering!)
Simone Agrimonti, Ph.D. Student
He was tutored by the great philosopher Aristotle. He won his first battle at age 18 and became king at 20. He attacked and conquered the greatest empire known to ancient Greeks. He reached the borders of India with his army. All this before dying suddenly and mysteriously when only 33 years old. This and more is what made Alexander of Macedon one of the most famous characters in history. His life and deeds were recorded by Greek and Roman historians, and entered the tradition of many other people. Let’s embark on a trip to discover more about a man who single-handedly changed the course of history, and marked the beginning of a new era for the Greek world. We will learn more about his conquest of the East and the effects that this had. On the road, we will uncover some of the mysteries of this “Great” leader, while also observing what we still have in common with Alexander himself.

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!: A DAY AT THE GLADIATORIAL GAMES
Mohammed Bhatti, 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!

THE WORLD OF WOMEN IN HOMER’S ODYSSEY (New Offering!)
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. Student
Homer’s Odyssey has fascinated audiences for thousands of years thanks to the incredible and captivating adventures of its main character, Odysseus. But Homer’s world is populated with fascinating women at every stage of the hero’s troubled journey. This presentation will take us into the world of four mythological women, all different from one another, yet all crucial to Odysseus’ tale: Calypso, the powerful, loving nymph; Nausicaa, a young girl growing up; Circe, the enigmatic witch; and Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, his perfect match in skill and cunning. Together we will explore the world of these mythological women. What powers do women have in a man’s world? How do they contribute crucially to a heroic quest? We’ll answer these and other questions as we turn the spotlight on Odysseus’ fabulous female companions. (this presentation can be tailored to coincide with a unit on the Homeric poems or so that outside knowledge of the Odyssey is not necessary)

PASSION, MADNESS AND LOVE: WOMEN IN ANCIENT MYTH (New Offering!)
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. Student
We usually associate Greek mythology with the astonishing exploits of heroes, such as Achilles, Jason, or Hercules. What about the women? Greek society often left them in the background, in a secondary position as wives and daughters. But the women of mythology are a different story. They seize active roles and receive a prominence that women seldom experienced in real life. However, by doing this, they go against one of their most important obligations: live quietly and stay inside the house. Through this presentation, we will focus on three women whose strong agency and determination mark them out as sinister to the Greek imagination and yet somewhat heroic to ours. Medea, the sorcerer who left her homeland because of love; Antigone, the girl who sacrificed herself on behalf of her family; and Phaedra, the woman who died because of an insane passion. Together we will explore the stories of these women and investigate what they can tell us about being a woman in Ancient Greece in a man’s world.

DIGGING UP HOMER
Maura Brennan, Ph.D. Student
Did the Trojan War really happen? This presentation is designed to give the audience 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.

STEP RIGHT UP: A TOUR OF THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS
Vasiliki Tsikritea, 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.

DRAG ON A DENARIUS: ACTORS AND ACTING IN ANCIENT ROME (New Offering!)
Andrew Lund, Ph.D. Student
From advertisements to Hollywood blockbusters (and all the tabloid sites in between), we encounter actors nearly every day. Today, these talented men and women can acquire great fame, fortune, and notoriety. But what was it like for actors in ancient Rome, and what can we say about their craft? Join us as we learn about the men (and in some cases, women!) who performed on the dramatic stage, and attempt to reconstruct how an actor might have transformed into Agamemnon or Medea for a performance through things like gesture, movement, costume, voice modulation, and masks. Travel to the stages and theaters in which these actors performed, and learn what the Romans thought about actors and their profession! (Available Spring Semester 2019.)

HISTORY’S LIES: GREAT ‘COVER-UPS’ IN ROMAN HISTORY
Carina Moss, Ph.D. Student
Ancient Romans, just like many modern civilizations, had unsavory elements in their history. Wars, deaths, and transitions of power happened frequently but sometimes, these events had aspects that made the Roman people uncomfortable. In this presentation, we will discuss events in the Roman past and the different ways Roman writers talked about the unseemly aspects of their own history. What do these moments of discomfort show us about the Roman people? Does it matter if they lied about their history, or pretended certain events happened in different ways to make themselves sound better? We’ll consider these and other questions as we explore examples in Roman history that the Romans, great conquerors of the world and our cultural ancestors, preferred to forget.

THE ROMAN ARMY: THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE ROMAN EMPIRE
C.J. Miller, Ph.D. Student
Everyone knows the Roman army was a powerful military force, but did you know it did much more than fight wars? 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. Along the way, it brought fame and power to Cincinnatus, Julius Caesar, and Constantine—to name just a few! This talk will explore the life and times of the Roman army—how it fought, what it looked like, and what its soldiers were up to when they weren’t at war. You’ll get a sense of the wealth of surviving evidence: from literature and fine sculpture to the letters soldiers wrote, the shoes they wore, and the tombstones they designed for themselves.

CINCINNATI IN THE AEGEAN: AEGEAN OBJECTS IN CINCINNATI
Jeff Banks and Anna Belza, Ph.D. Students
Did you know that archaeologists from Cincinnati have been digging in the lands around the Mediterranean since the 1920s? Using objects from the departmental Classics Study Collection, this talk presents the history of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati. In particular, the great characters of Cincinnati Classical archaeology - Carl Blegen, Jack Caskey, Marion Rawson - and their amazing discoveries about the prehistory of the Aegean region are presented alongside some of the objects found on their digs. Together with these pioneers, we will explore the sites at Troy, Pylos and many others.

POMPEII: LIFE FROM THE ASHES
Christopher Motz, Ph.D. Student
Walk with ancient Romans! This presentation will take students on a behind-the-scenes 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 amphitheater, and the cemeteries outside the city walls. And did you know that Cincinnati has been digging up Pompeii for over a decade? In fact it’s the largest area of Pompeii to be excavated in the past 200 years! We’ll show you what we’ve been discovering and learning about an entire neighborhood of the city.

SHERD NERDS: TRACING THE HISTORY OF ROME THROUGH ITS CERAMIC EVIDENCE
Sarah Wenner, 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.

ANCIENT VILLAGERS AND CITY SLICKERS
Sarah Wenner, Ph.D. Student
What was it like to live in the past? This presentation brings to life the space and everyday activities of ancient farmers and urbanites. How did an ancient farm work and what kind of jobs did farmers do every day? How can we get at the sights and sounds of living in an ancient city like Athens or Rome, and what did urbanites do to make a living? We will see how archaeologists use the trash of the past to answer these questions. This presentation will step into ancient farmhouses and giant apartment buildings. The secrets of good shepherding and the sales tricks of urban shopkeepers will be revealed. But it won't be all hard work, because the ancients knew how to have fun too!

WHAT DO ARCHAEOLOGISTS DO, ANYWAY?
Shelby Raynor, 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.

THE CENTURIONS OF THE ROMAN ARMY: THE MEN UNDERNEATH THE ARMOR
CJ Miller, Ph.D. Student
Meet the Roman centurion: one of the most iconic figures from antiquity. The success of the Roman army was legendary and the centurions were the key to this success. They kept ranks, kept order, and kept cooler heads in combat. Yet, these famous soldiers were more than simply military machines. This talk will discuss evidence from ancient inscriptions and literature (including the New Testament) to reveal the real men underneath the armor.

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.

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO FOUNTAIN SQUARE: ROME AND THE ROOTS OF THE MODERN CITY
Jeff Banks, 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.