Recent Completions

Rachel Morihovitis (Thesis)

Searching for a ‘Working-Class Hero’ in Greek Old Comedy

The attitudes towards work and labour in antiquity vary based on lens and scholar, ancient or modern. This project aims to make new connections between the realms of Labour Studies and Classics through the examination of ancient literature, with a focus on the fifth century BCE. Specifically, it examines a selection of the comic poet Aristophanes’ works in order to determine whether or not a ‘working-class hero’ existed within them. Additionally, it explores what impact, if any, this character type may have had on ancient theatregoers, and how the working-class hero lines up with a staple of Old Comedy, the comic hero.

In order to investigate this, context is key. This project first provides relevant vocabulary, both in English and Greek, with definitions specific to this body of work. Following this are examples of paid labour in antiquity. This project finds that there is ample evidence of paid labour across industries in the fifth century BCE, both in public and private spheres. In the former, the surviving records provide far more exact wage information, and while the latter is not as specific, it still indicates some sort of compensation for work.

This project finds that there is a connection between working-class heroes and Old Comedy. The parallels between working-class and comic heroes are numerous, and appear in more than one Aristophanic play. The poet’s protagonists were almost always average, everyday men, pushing back against power structures in order to make change for the better. In addition, there is reason to believe that the audience felt a connection to the comic hero as a working-class hero. Through analysis of specific scenes, Aristophanic patterns and tropes, as well as the results of competition, it becomes clear that spectators likely would have related to the contents of the plays. This study demonstrates that, through examining Old Comedy from a labour-based lens, there are clear connections between these two vastly different disciplines.

Emma March (Thesis)

Supervisors:  F. Colivicchi; K. Olson, Western University

A Comparison of Ancient Roman Justice Systems and Canadian Indigenous Justice Systems: Approaches to Crime and Punishment     (QSpace)
Canadian law is legally pluralistic and combines common law, civil law, and Indigenous legal traditions. Roman law has contributed largely to both the Canadian common law and civil law traditions while Indigenous law has developed from its own belief system and history. Conflict has arisen within Canada’s criminal system with respect to Indigenous offenders due to the retributive nature and positivistic approaches of both the common law and civil law systems in the face of the restorative methodology found in Indigenous approaches to crime. The retributive approach is largely reflective of the legal ideology developed by the Romans and their methods for punishing crime. However, Rome had many different periods of law and the history of Roman law before the classical period has largely been ignored in legal scholarship. By contrasting the two systems, I argue that criticism for Indigenous law as being largely custom is misplaced and that Indigenous law derives force from similar sources of law found in the Roman system. Moreover, I argue that the overincarceration and representation of Indigenous individuals within the Canadian criminal system is partially the result of differences in core values resulting from separate histories and customs. The Canadian criminal system may benefit from adopting smaller organizational structures in order to provide more personal services as is seen in Indigenous systems. Furthermore, the Canadian criminal law system needs to incorporate further aspects of Indigenous law into its structure which represent traditional Indigenous values in order to encourage reconciliation and help heal Canada’s Indigenous peoples. However, this presents difficulties given the sizeable population of modern cities and the needs of administering justice over a large population.

Meaghan Cosby (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor:  C. Zaccagnino

Tiberius' Politics and Propaganda Through the Analysis of some Works of Art
This paper aims to examine the different aspects of the images related to emperor Tiberius’ politics and propaganda. This will be done by examining coins, the decorative program of his villas at Sperlonga and Capri, the Boscoreale Cup depicting Tiberius, the so-called sword of Tiberius, the Grand Camée de France, and the Gemma Augustea. Along with these pieces of archaeological evidence, primary sources (literary and inscriptions) have been examined to understand what messages Tiberius wanted to deliver to the empire. Based on the evidence, I believe that Tiberius wanted to stress especially his relation to Augustus and the Julio-Claudians, maintaining this dynastic line, and stressing his disappointments and the values he believed in through the means of Greek mythological tales.

Briar Bennett-Flammer (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor:  R. Ascough

Commandeering a Symbol of God: Reevaluating the Use of the Chi-Rho in Roman Britain as a Sign of Imperial Authority   (QSpace)
The Chi-Rho (☧), or Christian monogram, is one of the most common religious symbols in Christian art. Traditional archaeology has considered the presence of a chi-rho to be an indicator of a Christian artifact, as a result of a long-standing association with the figure of Christ. As a result, artefacts adorned with the chi-rho have been consistently used as evidence for Christian activity in Roman Britain. An association with imperial figures, however, has created a need to question the validity of these assumptions in certain contexts. After his “Divine Revelation” Emperor Constantine adopted the chi-rho as his personal sign of military triumph and political authority, giving the symbol dual functions representing both religion and imperial power. In Britain, Constantine’s many personal and military connections may have increased the chi-rho’s imperial role. The symbol appears in the province as architectural decoration, graffiti, and on objects as original ornamentation. When this material evidence is reevaluated with consideration for function, context, potential as a religious and/or secular artefact, and the purpose of the chi-rho as part of the objects’ decoration, the Romano-British chi-rho is demonstrated to be a symbol with an ambivalent nature. While in some cases the symbols are religious and/or ritual in function, often the chi-rho is clearly used as an imperial emblem on objects associated with the administrative system, the military, or those displaying fealty to the imperial family.

Alexandra Elvidge (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor:  R.D. Griffith

The Function of Exile in Euripides’ Medea
Exile is a principal theme of Euripides’ 431 BCE production of Medea, with Medea and Jason forced from their homelands and living by the hospitality of a tyrant in Corinth.  This project seeks to fill the gap in present scholarship by exploring how Medea and Jason’s actions are influenced by their exile.  I evaluate the impact of exile on the individual by outlining first, the legal and political ramifications of banishment in fifth-century Athens, and second, the portrayal of exile in the Archaic and Classical literary tradition.  Travel in the ancient world was clearly dangerous. This danger was exacerbated for the exile who, living in a foreign state without the benefit of the laws and civic customs of their homeland, was devoid of any rights, security, or status.  The exile therefore depended upon a host, in a form of ritualized protection known as ξενία, which would provide him with tenuous security and a modicum of freedom. Medea and Jason both live in such precarious circumstances:  Jason relies on the protection of ξενία through Creon, while Medea must rely on the private sphere of her husband’s οἶκος, both of which are sacrificed by the end of the tragedy. While her status as a woman and a foreigner deprives Medea of civic rights, being an exile without host protection threatens the security of her person. Meanwhile, Jason’s exile eliminates the rights and privileges he had held as a Greek male citizen, and I therefore argue that his choice to marry into a ruling Corinthian family is motivated by his desire to regain his civic autonomy. This project acknowledges the profound and multifaceted impact of exile on the individual and explores how the widely held scholarly interpretations of Medea and Jason’s actions acquire further complexity and nuance when the characters’ exile is given due consideration.

Alexander Moore (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor:  C. Zaccagnino

The Art of Storytelling: Epic and Tragedy in Ancient Greek Vase Art
The purpose of this study is to survey the narrative scenes present on Ancient Greek red-figure vases of the 5th to 4th centuries BCE in order to discern whether or not there is any correlation between the genre of said narratives and iconographical convention. The study will utilize primarily the methodology outlined by Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, analysing the various compositional elements of each narrative scene and the overall iconographic convention of which the various selected narratives are a part. The study will compare and contrast the two most prominent narrative genres of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, epic and tragedy.

Francesca Rousselle (Thesis)

Supervisor:  A.F. D'Elia

Art for God's Sake: An Augustinian Defense of Theatre     (QSpace)
In City of God Augustine refers to the theatre as a “pestilence” on the morals of the Roman people. Further, he devotes a large portion of the third book of the Confessions to outlining his own sinful experiences with the theatre and a Platonic attack on the poetical arts. From these passages in his two most famous works it would be reasonable to see theatre as incompatible with an Augustinian worldview. However, by expanding upon O’Connell’s Art and the Christian Intelligence in St. Augustine, Smith’s “Staging the Incarnation: Revisioning Augustine’s Critique of Theatre”, and Drever’s “Entertaining Violence: Augustine on the Cross of Christ and the Commercialization of Suffering”, this study shows that a complete condemnation of the theatre cannot be sustained in light of the wider Christian framework within which Augustine operates. This thesis begins by examining the similarities between Plato and Augustine’s critiques of theatre on both ethical and ontological grounds. Having established that the basis of their attack lies in three elements: imitation, the emotions, and material images, an exploration of Augustine’s views on material creation, the Incarnation, Resurrection, and human persona shows that neither the emotions nor material images can be condemned on the Platonic assumption that their natures are inherently corrupting; in fact, both of these are shown to be moral goods that, while liable to corruption because of the Fall, are innately good. Given that they are moral goods, it becomes possible to make room in Augustine for the possibility of a ‘redeemed theatre’ where the mimetic imitation inherent to the theatrical arts is not a moral hindrance but a devotional aid. Indeed, Augustine’s use of theatrical elements in his own writing points to the efficacy of this method of evangelization.

Rachelle Bustamente (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor:  A.F. D'Elia

Making Space Sacred: An Investigation of the Christianization of Pagan Monuments in Rome
Following the decline of paganism and the rise of Christianity in Rome, the re-use and re-interpretation of pagan monuments began to serve the function and desires of the now Christian city. Rather than face absolute obliteration due to their association with its pagan past and its evils, many of Rome's famous monuments were fashioned new meanings and re-used to serve the faith. Thus, this paper will investigate the religious, cultural, as well as political ideologies and traditions developed by Christians in Late Antiquity that influenced the Christianization of pagan monuments in Rome. 

The Christian martyr and their sites of veneration, superstitio and the belief in demons, as well as the expanding Christian topography in Rome are the Christian ideologies that will be primarily be examined. These particular ideologies and their influence on the re-use and re-interpretation of pagan buildings will be unified through a case study of two of Rome's most renowned monuments: The Pantheon and the Colosseum. Through and investigation of the re-use and re-interpretation of these monuments in Rome, it is the ultimate goal to suggest that the Christianization of monuments in this city was a representation of the caput mundi, once famously pagan, now under the hammer of Christianity.

Ryan Beatty (Major Research Paper)

Supervisor: A.M. Foley

Regional Variations of Archaic Korai
The Archaic Period of Greek Art was a time of great artistic prosperity. During this period, the kore type was introduced. Despite being a well-known sculptural type, korai are not fully understood. Scholars who have studied these statues have come up with many theories on how they should be studied. The best route to take appears to be splitting the type into regional groups. There are different characteristics of the korai that can be attributed to the region they were produced. These characteristics would eventually spread to other regions before creating what is known as the “International Style” late in the Archaic Period. This paper will try to single out these regional variations in an attempt to stress the importance of studying the korai not as a single group, but as many regional groups.