Student Abstracts 2014

These abstracts of student coursework were submitted by seniors from the class of 2013 for Senior Colloquium, March 2014.

Note on major tracks: Classical Languages and Literature = lang (2); Classical Civilizations = civ (13); Mediterranean Archaeology = arch (5); Ancient History = anch (0)

1. The Rock-Vaulted Halls: A look into the landscape of the Greco-Roman underworld and its origins (Amanda Ball) [arch]

In this paper, I introduce the concept that the Greco-Roman underworld may be a previously unexamined geomyth. The purpose of this study is to provide the background for further study and excavation of these entrances to the underworld. As evidence, I look at descriptions of the underworld in literature, characters associated with the underworld and the archaeology and landscape of sites thought to be connected to the underworld.

2. Impious Aeneas: The Issue of Hospitium in the Dido Episode of the Aeneid (Stacy Burkhalter) [civ]

Hospitium, or guest-friendship, was a highly regulated cultural institution in the ancient world; one was socially and religiously obligated to take in a guest and give them gifts. In turn, if the host was ever traveling in the vicinity of their former guests, the guest would then become the host to the traveler. The concept of hospitium entirely relies on the reciprocity of the exchange of equal and appropriate gifts of goods and services. When this process was carried out correctly, a geographically and temporally expansive network of social bonds was created between families. Alternately, when reciprocity failed to occur, social and emotional bonds were broken and the consequences could be seen for generations afterward. This paper explores the impacts of the violation of the institution of hospitium upon the personal and political relationship of Aeneas and Dido.

3. Sophocles’ Ajax: Beyond the Suicide (Jordan Colbert) [civ]

Within Classical Athens, tragedy represented a form of entertainment that allowed the viewer to symbolically view philosophy, critic of politics, and the ideal citizenry. The ancient tragedians, such as Sophocles, used this medium to convey both values and information to the general population of their city-states. In this paper, I highlight the characteristics that Sophocles’ play Ajax exhibits in the presentation of the ideal Athenian in 5th century Classical Athens. Through an analysis of characters, actions, and cultural background I unearth the presentation of the character of Ajax as a tragic representation of the ideal Athenian citizen.

4. An Analysis of Tomb II of the Great Tumulus at Vergina (Caraline Cugley) [arch]

This paper sets out to examine the archaeological evidence and modern scholarship surrounding the highly disputed Tomb II of the Royal Macedonian tombs found at Vergina, Greece in 1977. This tomb has been identified as the Tomb of Philip II of Macedon; however, this paper disagrees with this identification and argues for a date that post-dates Philip II. It focuses on an analysis of the human remains, architecture, frieze, and artifacts and the arguments that modern scholars have proposed about each of these different features.

5. Reclaiming a Selected Past: Mussolini’s Rome and Bacon’s Philadelphia (Kate Goldenberg) [lang]

Benito Mussolini, reigning in Rome in the 1930s, and Edmund Bacon, influencing Philadelphia in the 1950s, each incorporated and presented the past in modern cityscapes. While imperfect parallels, the changes to the urban fabric of Rome and Philadelphia reveal how historical monuments shape the modern city, leading the public to re-interpret space and enabling leaders and planners to construct memory, evoke nostalgia, and assert ideology. Analysis of photographs, archival data, and secondary sources reveal both Mussolini and Bacon incorporated antiquity into modern cityscapes at the expense of more recent historical structures to borrow the political legitimacy conveyed by monuments able to evoke collective history.

6. Plutarch, Life of Dion (John Howerton) [civ]

My essay hopes to examine Plutarch’s Life of Dion, summarizing its content and suggesting ways that it may have influenced the life of James Madison.  James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution was a proud classicist, and frequently made classical references in his speeches and letters in order to draw parallels between the issues facing the fledgling United States and the societies of antiquity.  Reading about Dion’s experiences, I expect that Madison was not only influenced in his political opinions, but looked to Dion as a role model for his own education and character.

7. Food in Roman Britain: A discussion of current issues in scholarship and a proposed new approach (Julia Hurley) [arch]

This paper reviews current scholarship in the field of Romano-British foodways and the relevance of food in the archaeological record more generally. It aims to address basic issues with scholarly attitudes and methodologies in this field, arguing that there is a conflict between the highly interdisciplinary nature of foodways and the highly specialized knowledge of modern experts in archaeology, and that recent overviews of foodways in Roman Britain are weakened by the thin datasets on which they are based.  Finally, it proposes possible solutions to some of these problems, and presents an ongoing research project in which archaeological evidence for food is mapped, using GIS, across the province of Britannia.  This “pilot” project uses animal remains data from R.W. Davies’ 1971 article, “The Roman Military Diet,” and synthesizes it with current archaeobotanical data gathered from a variety of sources by the author.  The preliminary results of this project are presented, and potential issues with this approach and future directions are discussed.

8. Reception of the Aeneid: Sense of Destiny and National Identity in Book VII (Alexa Koike) [lang]

Our founding fathers were all privileged with an education heavily rooted in the Classics, especially our fourth president James Madison. Looking at the themes in these classical works, it is possible to discern values or influences they had on James Madison. Vergil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, had been a cornerstone of education since the time he was alive and was a work that all the founding fathers read. This paper discusses how the themes of destiny and national identity are depicted in Book VII in the Aeneid and the potential ways they shaped James Madison as he was in the developing stage of becoming a prominent politician (before he authored any of our founding documents).

9. The Tomb of Philip II(I Arrhidaeus): The Identity of a King (Kaitlyn Levesque) [arch]

This paper is an investigation into the identity of the inhabitants of the three royal, Macedonian tombs discovered at Vergina by Manolis Andronicos in 1977. The investigation focuses most heavily on the so called tomb of Phillip II. The Homeric overtones and the imagery of Alexander and his father surrounding the tomb have been used as evidence in support of the tomb belonging to Philip II. However, analysis of the antechamber (specifically its construction and grave goods) and the physical remains of the burial, as well as the supporting contexts of the other tombs, assert that the tomb, in fact, belongs to Phillip III Arrhidaeus, son of Philip II.

10. Rethinking Livia and Agrippina: The Changing Legacies of the First Ladies of the Principate (Sara Marino) [civ]

This paper investigates modern and classical conceptions of the Julio-Claudian women. The legacies of Livia and Agrippina have been colored for centuries by their portrayals in the works of ancient historians such as Dio, Tacitus, and Suetonius. More recently, scholars including Anthony Barrett and Richard Bauman have reanalyzed these histories for a fresh take on the infamous women of the Principate. Barrett successfully shows that the vision of the ancient historians stems largely from their inability to attribute power to Roman woman. In contrast, both scholars’ retrospective studies show that Livia and Agrippina actually wielded significant power (beyond coordinating assassinations) and were politically savvy shapers of the early empire.

11. The Arguments Concerning Restriction on the Trade of Antiquities (Theodore Marschall) [civ]

This paper highlights the debate over the trade of antiquities from both the point of view of scholars and museum curators and dealers. One the one hand, the museum curators and dealers advocate their need to be able to freely trade and purchase archaeological items so that they can both sustain their businesses through enhanced collections and make those items more publically available to the average person. However, scholars argue that trade of antiquities needs to be restricted because it incentivizes looting of the archaeological items by providing a market for the stolen goods. A possible compromise between the two factions might be to allow museums to loan out these archaeological objects to one another. A loan based system of trade can already be seen in the 2012 announcement that the Penn Museum would be loaning out its “Troy Gold” collection to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism in return for Penn’s access to Turkey’s Lydian artifacts.

12. On Adultery and Capital Punishment in Fourth-Century BCE Athens (Richard Maurer) [civ]

This paper briefly introduces the seemingly disproportionate punishment afforded by Athenian law for adultery in Fourth-Century BCE Athens as compared to the punishment for other sexual crimes, and resolves that difficulty by arguing that Athenian law allows for capital punishment to be applied to the adulterer because, unlike other sexual crimes, adultery is a serious social crime, which destroys the oikos, the fundamental unit of a Greek city. However, the law also makes provision for other penalties for adultery, such as pecuniary compensation to the injured husband, and that complicates the problem by introducing an apparent inconsistency in the administration of justice. This paper releases the tension that arises from such disparate treatment of adulterers by evaluating the case of The Murder of Eratosthenes from the perspective of contemporary legal theory, and reaches the conclusion that Athenian law permitted a range of punishments to allow for a cuckold’s status to be restored in an economically efficient manner.

13. The Professional Role of Women in the Hippocratic Corpus (Jenna Nickas) [civ]

The medical treatment of women in Classical Greece was a topic not overlooked by the Hippocratic tradition. In fact, women appear not only as patients and family members of the ill, but also occasionally as medical practitioners themselves. This paper investigates the existence of female medical professionals in the 4th and 5th century BC, and their influence on medical practices of the time. In a larger context, this paper aligns the role of these women with that of the Hippocratic female patient, particularly in the area of obstetrics and gynecology. I found that although trained midwives (maiai) appear in many treatises within the Corpus, there is a lack of evidence of female physicians during the 5th century BC. This finding suggests a void of female doctors treating other women during this time, and I propose that this void created a barrier of care for female patients.

14. The Function of Human Beings: An Analysis of Aristotle’s Function Argument (Clarissa Palmer) [civ]

This paper was written for the History of Ancient Philosophy. Through a close reading of Book 1 of The Nicomachean Ethics, I analyze Aristotle’s function argument. Aristotle’s function argument provides an explanation about the aspect of life that sets humans apart from different species and how this helps bring happiness but the evidence Aristotle uses to support his theory are unconvincing. He mostly gives vague arguments in support of premises without specifics that allow for his overall argument to come into question due to ambiguity. His overall conclusion, however, is compelling. Aristotle argues that happiness is the pursuit of a rational life, an activity that humans are capable of. Happiness is thus in the control of the doer of the activities.

15. The Power of Poetry: Plato’s Critique of Homer (Faryn Pearl) [civ]

Plato’s Republic is infamous for championing the censorship of poetry, particularly the works of Homer. However, Plato’s extreme critique is informed more by the rise and fall of Athens after the Peloponnesian War – and the rise and fall of his mentor, Socrates – than by any narrative faults by Homer. The Republic attacks the Odyssey and the Iliad to neutralize their persuasive rhetorical power over the impressionable masses, whose misinterpretation of literal actions as values had already, in Plato’s eyes, led to the destruction of his city.

16. Dionysus and the Cultural Identity of Thrace: A xenos god for a xenos people (Elizabeth Potens) [civ]

Numismatic material provides significant insights into the culture and daily life of a group of people. Past excavations of Maroneia and the Molyvoti peninsula have uncovered much coinage, providing clues to the culture of the ancient Thracian people there. In my study of a portion of these coins, I highlight the imagery and iconography of Dionysus and grapes as indicative of Thracian culture. The origins of Dionysus, in ancient histories, literature, and myth, reflect the influences of Greek and Eastern cultures on this deity, something also reflected in the Thracian people and their cultural influences and interaction throughout history.

17. Metabolai Politeiōn (Devin Scanlon) [civ]

This paper presents an analysis of the structural and demographic features of Aristotle’s theory of political change (metabolai politeiōn) and compares it to the conclusions reached by modern Structural-demographic theory. Aristotle claims that the particular structuring of the politeia of a polis makes certain psychological conditions more or less likely in the inhabitants and vise verse. When passions are enflamed, people are more likely to attempt to remove or alter whatever factor they see as the source of their painful sentiments. In order to examine the validity of Aristotle’s qualitative claims, the work of structural-demographer Peter Turchin, especially his Historical Dynamics and Secular Cycles, is used. Turchin’s quantitative evaluations of the same processes offer hard, data-driven evidence to support many of the conclusions Aristotle draws.

18. The Vitruvian Message in Augustan Architecture (Natalie Shemilt) [civ]

Buildings are used as a means of delivering a message.  A building can symbolize power and might, success in the arts and sciences, and wealth, among other things.  Augustus’ building program did just this, sending a message to the world of his empire’s might.  When looking at his building program, it would seem that Augustus relied heavily on architectural principles set forth by Vitruvius, particularly as seen in his de Architectura. This paper attempts to show that Augustus and his architects were indeed deeply influenced by Vitruvius by examining not only the physical remains of some of these buildings but also primary sources that allude to these buildings, with a particular focus on the Temple of Mars Ultor.  Ultimately, the paper concludes that Augustus particularly designed his buildings to send a public message asserting his dominance and he was able to do this through his reliance on Vitruvian principles.

19. Dahan-e Golaman: A Case Study in Center-Periphery Perspective (Morgan Williams) [arch]

The Achaemenid dynasty governed a vast and diverse empire in the ancient Near East. Most scholarship on the Achaemenids has focused on material from the imperial center, as most of what remains in the archaeological record comes from the Achaemenid heartland (Fars). More recently, settlements in the outer regions of the empire, such as Dahan-e Golaman, have drawn interest in scholarly discourse. Ancient Near Eastern scholars hope that further investigations of the ‘peripheries’ together with recent cultural interaction theories will contribute to a broader understanding of how the empire functioned. As an Achaemenid town located at the eastern edge of the empire, Dahan-e Golaman has the potential to shed light on the proliferation of Achaemenid imperial culture and how it interacted with that of the peripheries.

20. Call Me Demaratus: Narrating Spartan ethnography in the Histories of Herodotus (Carson Woodbury) [civ]

The exiled Spartan king Demaratus is central to Herodotus’ presentation of Spartan ethnography in the Histories.  I argue that Herodotus deliberately shapes Demaratus into a character who will make an effective narrator for Spartan ideals.  I create a picture of Herodotus’ perfect Spartan by assessing the author’s tone towards Spartan actions described in the narrative.  Then, I follow Demaratus through the text, exploring the Spartan’s many ambiguities, comparing him to the ‘ideal’ Spartan, and investigating how the author uses Demaratus to convince readers to believe his portrait of Sparta.  Demaratus is the perfect narrator for Spartan culture precisely because he is not an ideal Spartan.  His shortcomings make him believable, freeing the Histories from the haze of mistrust sowed by the Spartan mirage.