Department of Classics



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Student Theses and Research Essays - 2017

Alexander Harmantas (Thesis)

Ancient Macedonian Ethnic Identity: A Study with Emphasis on the Literary Sources From the 5th c. B.C. to the 2nd c. A.D.   (QSpace)

The ethnic identity of the ancient Macedonians continues to be the most debated subject within Macedonian historiography. The debate has fixated on a simple question: were the Macedonians Greeks, or a separate ethnic group? Rather than attempting to trace the exact origins of the Macedonians – an exceedingly difficult task in dealing with any ancient people – this thesis will focus on the ethnic presentation of the Macedonians: how do the ancient literary sources identify the Macedonians? How did the Macedonians identify themselves? What factors shaped the Greeks’ perspectives towards the Macedonian kings and their people? How much can we reasonably infer about the Macedonians’ ethnic self-perception and identification in the absence of their own literary testimony? This thesis will seek to answer these essential questions by providing a comprehensive analysis of the relevant ancient literary sources dating from the mid-late 5th c. B.C. to the early 2nd c. A.D., devoting careful attention to all of those passages which particularly relate to the subject of Macedonian ethnic identity. It will be demonstrated that the first established ruling dynasty of Macedon, the Argeads, may be considered Greek according to both modern and ancient Greek criteria for ethnicity; they held a conscious identity as Greeks and were accepted as such at a fairly early point by the intellectual and literary elite of southern Greece. Regarding the wider Macedonian populace, however, more direct evidence is required for us to readily ascertain their sense of ethnic identity. While an ethnocultural merging of Greeks and Macedonians does appear in literature by a later point in antiquity, the Greeks of the Classical period were consistent in designating the Macedonian people as ‘barbarians.’ Although further literary evidence (especially in the form of an average Macedonian communicating their sense of ethnic self-perception) is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn, we may perhaps best understand the Greeks and Macedonians as ethnically related yet distinct groups, gradually placed in close ethnocultural alignment by Greek writers only in the centuries following Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Near East.

Matthew Chandler (Thesis)

Gallicization In Rome: A Study of Lexical Borrowing as Evidence for Gallo-Roman Cultural Diffusion   (QSpace)

Following in the footsteps of Karl Schmidt’s 1967 article, Keltisches Wortgut im Lateinischen, and J.P. Wild’s 1970, Borrowed Names for Borrowed Things?, this thesis examines a total of twenty-one Gallic lexical items that were borrowed by the Latin language during the period of Roman hegemony over the whole of Gaul and, from that point, discusses whether the borrowing of these terms is proof of corresponding instances of cultural diffusion. In an effort to examine lexical and cultural integration in tandem, this study has selected terms from three semantic categories of material culture, specifically ‘food and drink’, ‘clothing’, and ‘wheeled vehicles’, and uses contextual evidence from the literary record to gauge the integration levels of the terms within both the Latin language and Roman culture. As a result, this thesis not only reveals much valuable information pertaining to both lexical and cultural integration, but also the effect which factors like perceived social status and the search of prestige had on the entire process. Furthermore, as a form of linguistic archaeology, this study succeeds in reconstructing certain aspects of Celtic culture which may have otherwise been lost to the passage of time.

Daniel Sloan (Essay)

The Beersheba Edict and Travel in Late Antique Palestine​    (QSpace)

Ever since its first edition and commentary in 1921, the Beersheba Edict has been regarded as a collection of four inscriptions. It continues to be debated amongst scholars, such as Denis Feissel, because it records a collection of yearly sums from settlements across all three Palaestinae in the sixth century. As the Beersheba Edict does not specify a reason for the annual collection of solidi from these settlements, scholars have put forth numerous hypotheses in order to explain them. This paper does not aim to propose a new hypothesis, nor does it seek to disprove the latest interpretation of the Edict by Leah Di Segni. This paper, instead, prefers to work with the hypothesis of Di Segni by investigating the evidence for hospitality services and general travel along the roman roads connecting settlements recorded in the Beersheba Edict.

Nicholas Gill (Essay)

ANGUEM ENIXA MULIER - Near Eastern Snake Omens and Roman Literature​    (QSpace)

Comparative work in the divinatory traditions of the Near East and the classical world, aside from the sub-discipline of astrology, has not been forthcoming. John Jacobs’s 2011 article, “Traces of the Omen Series Šumma Izbu in Cicero’s De Divinatione,” is a notable exception. In this work, Jacobs compared Mesopotamian birth omens with those found in Graeco-Roman literature, and discovered a concordance in the category of lion births. This concordance, however, is not exclusive to omens concerning the birth of lions. Snake omens drawn from the Šumma Izbu, the Mesopotamian omen corpus of birth omens, focus on two portents: the rise of a powerful leader and a negative change in social status. When snake omens in Roman literature are examined alongside these Mesopotamian omens, it is evident that the apodoses of the Roman omens likewise portend either or both of these events. The secondary focus of this work is to provide a history of snake omens in Roman sources, and to that end, this work draws on virtually all snake omens in classical Roman literature, although some late sources may have escaped notice. Ultimately, this analysis of the Roman snake omens provides evidence that several ideas about snake omens—that they predict eminent people and social discord—migrated from Near Eastern omen literature and surfaced in Roman literature. While this investigation does not theorize the means of this transmission, it reaffirms the complex relationship Mesopotamian omen lore has with the classical world.

Brandon Francis (Essay)

The Peloponnesian Fleet: Disputing Thucydides' Land versus Sea Dichotomy​    (QSpace)

The clash between Sparta’s Peloponnesian League and the Athenian Delian League is considered one of the most famous events in Classical history. Lasting over two decades, the Great Peloponnesian War engulfed the greater part of the Greek mainland and Aegean, and extended to Sicily and Italy to the West, and Persia to the East. In essence, to the Hellene of the ancient world, this was a Greek World War. One of the major themes which the Peloponnesian War continuously iterated, and one which is emphasized in Thucydides’ narrative, was the dichotomy between the two πόλεις. Thucydides insinuated that the war was based on a polemic juxtaposition of Sparta, the predominant land power, and Athens, the naval juggernaut. Thucydides ultimately used the land versus sea motif to explain how the two city-states intended to fight. However, by doing this, Thucydides heavily disregarded Sparta’s maritime capabilities and even downplayed the Peloponnesian fleet’s role in the war. This paper will argue that Thucydides misconstrued the reality of the war. I believe Sparta pursued naval hegemony during the war and there is evidence for a deliberate naval program.

Marcus Jeffrey (Essay)

A Roman Frontier Exhibit in Northwestern Ontario: A Theoretical Foundation for Future Work​    (QSpace)

This research project provides a foundation for a travelling museum exhibit about life on the Roman frontier, for display in Northwestern Ontario. An effective exhibit depends on an understanding of the many roles museums play in modern society, and the unique challenges they face. This paper examines how today's museums function as centres of tourism, entertainment, and education. It discusses how desired learning outcomes and market data can affect exhibit design, while emphasizing the importance of cooperation with universities for research. A brief examination of how museums approach contemporary issues is followed by a broader discussion on effective exhibit design; topics include accessibility, labels, visitor movement patterns, audio tours, interactive elements, and the use of reproductions. The benefits of cooperating with other museums when creating travelling exhibits are examined, and examples of travelling ancient world exhibits in Canadian museums, both large and small, are used to support the creation of a Roman frontier exhibit for Northwestern Ontario.