Department of Classics



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Recent Completions

Sophie Stefanovich (Essay)

Women in Etruscan Tomb Painting     (QSpace)

Previous scholarship on women in Etruscan tomb painting has grounded its conclusion on a number of select, well distinguished tombs that have been used to support or disprove the claim that women held a prominent position in Etruscan society. This research paper aims to expand the literature by compiling an extensive catalogue of tomb paintings at the Etruscan site of Tarquinia, to examine the representation and iconography of women between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. Of the 135 painted tombs known in the Monterozzi necropolis of Tarquinia, there are 62 tombs that contain the depiction of women in various settings, including scenes of dance, athletics, the journey to the afterlife, and most frequently, the banquet. By analyzing the 24 tombs that contain scenes of the banquet where women are present, through their positioning, attire, and iconography, it is evident that the elite women in Etruscan society played an important role in the family. In comparison to scenes of the banquet in Greek art, as well as the accounts from ancient authors who comment on the scandalous actions of Etruscan women, a different picture emerges. The women depicted on the walls of these Etruscan tombs are not entertainers or subordinate companions. They are wives and mothers who, as members of the aristocracy, were essential figures in maintaining the family lineage and as such held greater authority and power. It is within these family tombs that they were honored and respected in this role.

Lucas Meadows (Essay)

The North African Influence on the Mosaics of Piazza Armerina     (QSpace)

This study begins with a discussion regarding the military crises of third and early fourth century Roman Empire and how they appear to have missed Sicily entirely, resulting in the island entering a period of prosperity, especially in the rural regions. The direct link between the establishment of Constantinople as capital of the Empire and Sicily’s subsequent economic boom is also examined. Within this historical context, the relationship between the mosaics of North Africa and those of Sicily begins with a survey of the richly-decorated Villa Romana del Casale near modern-day Piazza Armerina. The extensive collections of mosaics adorning this villa are examined in depth and grouped thematically. Finally, comparisons of the motifs, and the methodologies used for creating these mosaics are made with similar, and in some cases even identical works found in North Africa, especially around Carthage. From this, it can be determined that not only were the mosaics of Piazza Armerina influenced by North African design, but they may have even been made by North African mosaicists themselves.

Alexandria McKellar (Essay)

Etruscan Religion and Divination: Examining the Etruscan Gods and Demons, Divination and Haruspicy     (QSpace)

The Etruscans are described by Roman and Greek sources as a people devoted to religious practices above any other. A facet of Etruscan religion is divination, a field in which they had a reputation for excellence in ancient Italy. This caused many Etruscan priests to be summoned to Rome to explain phenomena that local experts could not. The Romans turned to the practices of the Etruscan haruspices as a way to provide a procuration or a way to “find remedies” for the disturbances between man and the gods. For the purpose of this paper, the focus will be on Etruscan religion. Main points of discussion will include: 1) where our understanding of Etruscan religion stems from and an overview of the foundations of Etruscan Religion; 2) the Etruscan pantheon and the features distinguishing the Etruscan gods from the Greek and Roman gods; 3) divination and haruspicy in Etruria. For all three subjects archaeological evidence will be presented. A catalogue of select artifacts associated primarily with divination provides additional material in support of the discussion.

Theresa Ainsworth (Essay)

A Timeline of the Decans: From Egyptian Astronomical Timekeeping to Greco-Roman Melothesia     (QSpace)

The decans were a set of thirty-six stars or constellations selected by the Egyptians in the First Intermediate Period as a means of marking the progression of the hours during the night. The rising of each decan on the horizon would mark the beginning of a new hour. The decans were depicted most often by the Egyptians in a funerary context, which led scholars to believe their initial function was not just astronomical but deeply religious as well. Once Egypt became colonized by Hellenistic rulers, the decans were adapted into the imported Babylonian zodiac. Once incorporated into the Hellenistic astrological system, which synthesized elements of both Egypt and Mesopotamia, the decans were believed to influence human health through the bonds of cosmic sympathy – the idea that all celestial bodies impacted human life in one way or another. The decans were each assigned to various sub-sections of the human body in a practice called melothesia. Once this assignment was established, a tradition of creating medical amulets emerged, allowing individuals to create folk remedies to alleviate disease and injury. The purpose of this paper is to review, synthesize, and contextualize the existent research on the decans.

Jade Wells (Essay)

A Virtual Reconstruction of the Baptistery of the Episcopal Basilica at Stobi (Republic of Macedonia)     (QSpace)

In the last decade of the sixth century CE, the baptistery of the Episcopal Basilica at Stobi, presently located in the Republic of Macedonia, collapsed, which destroyed the roof and the interior support structure of the baptistery. When the building was excavated in 1971, the stratigraphy was difficult to interpret; scholars originally believed that the baptistery had been undisturbed, even though there was no evidence of the roof present in the stratigraphy. To date, two very different reconstructions have been made. The first (figs. 7-8), made by William Dinsmoor in 1975, was disproved by subsequent archeological discoveries. A second reconstruction (fig. 9) was published in 2006 by James Wiseman, but failed to include any supporting evidence from comparanda. Since no adequate reconstruction attempt has been made, this paper will put forth a new reconstruction for the baptistery, supported by a photogrammetry-derived 3D model and evidence of similar baptisteries from the same period. Additional research topics which have not been addressed in the existing scholarship of the baptistery will also be discussed, including the provenance of the kantharos and the function of the structure found underneath the baptistery.

Tarryn Andrews (Essay)

Greek Tholoi of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods: An Examination    (QSpace)

This research aims to examine the Greek tholoi of the Classical and Hellenistic period focusing on the monuments from Olympia, Delphi, Epidauros, Samothrace, Cyrene, Limyra, and Knidos. These buildings have been examined separately and the similarities of each structure and the influences they may have had upon the others have been stressed. Comparing information from primary sources (literature and inscriptions) and archaeological evidence it seems that the round shape of these buildings is related to the heroic and dynastic cult, which started with Philip II and Alexander the Great and was later continued by the Ptolemies. I believe that the antecedent to the tholos used as a building for the dynastic cult may be identified in the heroon dedicated to Herakles Patroos (Fatherly) in the Macedonian Palace at Verghina. The Macedonian Royal House believed that Herakles was an ancestor of them and worshipped him as such.

Steven Mooney (Essay)

Fourth-Century Gothic Settlement and the Late Roman Economy     (QSpace)

Settlement and integration of non-Romans within Roman territory, political institutions, and culture were driving factors in the success of the Roman Empire since its foundation. This paper aims to examine the changing dynamics of settlement through the fourth century. One such group that were settled in the Roman empire, first recorded in 284 CE, were called the laeti. Laeti had the obligation to serve in the army in exchange for land – a situation that recalls idealized solider-farmer in Roman thought. The land they were settled on, however, some of which had been abandoned by aristocrats. This land was appropriated by the state and give to settlers. The phenomenon of agri deserti “(deserted land)”, was land not enrolled on the tax register, and became a source of conflict between the state and aristocrats, as well as the newly settled non-Romans and the aristocrats who still claimed the land. The aristocrats had to abandon the cultivation of this land due to labour shortages since their tenants had to serve in the army. Institutionalized settlement of non-Romans, such as the laeti, competed directly with the aristocratic economic aims. The institution of a new gold currency, the solidus, under Constantine, motivated the aristocrats to commute their in-kind taxation to gold (aderatio) due to the stability of the currency against inflation that the solidus brought. Landholders were willing to pay ten to twelve times the annual salary of a labourer in taxes to the state to retain these tenants. As less land was subsequently declared agri deserti, the state had large sums of money but few recruits. Furthermore, land that was traditionally given to non-Roman settlers was eliminated since tenants of large estates were not being recruited into the army. Thus, when the Gothic tribes sought asylum in the Roman Empire, the perfect source of manpower presented itself. However, after the almost complete destruction of the Roman army at the battle of Adrianople (378 CE) the process of aderatio was cemented as de facto state policy.

Olivia De Brabandere (Essay)

The “Hippocratic” Stance on Abortion: The Translation, Interpretation, and Use of the Hippocratic Oath in the Abortion Debate from the Ancient World to Present-Day     (QSpace)

The Hippocratic Oath was written in the fourth or fifth century BCE and was an esoteric document until hundreds of years after its creation. Physicians were not required to be familiar with this document in the ancient world, and its prominence in later history was mainly due to its association with Hippocrates, though the famous doctor is likely not its author. The document was adopted in the medieval and renaissance periods, however, and adapted to conform to Christian ideals that physicians were expected to abide by. In present-day society the oath has been used in legal trials such as Roe versus Wade, and continues to be used by many pro-life associations to argue that abortion should not be permitted under any circumstances. It is the purpose of this essay to examine the oath’s stance on abortion in the context in which it was written, to reinforce the fact that it largely disagreed with moral and medical standards which existed prior to the rise of Christianity. This is demonstrated through an examination of the use of the oath by physicians in antiquity as well as the medieval period, changing moral and religious concerns with induced miscarriage, and laws associated with abortion throughout the procedure’s history in relation to changing cultural norms. Though the intended meaning of the line in question may be uncertain, it is clear that abortion was an accepted procedure in medical circles in antiquity, and that the adoption and use of the Hippocratic Oath to advance pro-life argumentation was aided by changing social, moral, medical, and religious beliefs.

Ryland Patterson (Essay)

Selections from the Lexicon of Sextus Pompeius Festus, On the Meaning of Words: Translated with Introduction and Notes.     (QSpace)

The Lexicon of Festus has never been published in English translation. Although several modern editions were prepared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Festus is accessible only to those who can read him in the Latin original or who can read a nineteenth-century French translation based upon a now-obsolete Latin edition. While this state of affairs may have sufficed in the past, the general decline of Latin reading ability and the delaying of Latin language study to the university undergraduate level has rendered this untranslated text inaccessible to a large swathe of students and enthusiasts in the English-speaking world. This is unfortunate not only because the Lexicon of Festus is a fascinating text in its own right, being an early example of a dictionary and encyclopedia, but also because it contains much information which will be of use to those interested in the institutions and religion of Rome, the peoples of ancient Italy, and Latin linguistics, among other topics. My edition of translated selections includes scholarly notes and a full introduction setting the Lexicon in its historical context. It makes parts of this text accessible for the first time to those without Latin reading ability.