Student Abstracts 2018

These abstracts of student coursework were submitted by seniors from the class of 2018 for Senior Colloquium, April 2018.

Note on major tracks: Classical Languages and Literature = lang; Classical Civilizations = civ; Mediterranean Archaeology = arch; Ancient History = anch

1. A Case for Egyptian Influence in Early Greek Religion Hesiod on Chaos, Creation and Death (Anuj Amin) [CIV]

The themes of chaos, death and creation have an extensive presence in the mythologies and literatures of early Greek and Egyptian societies, with clear overlaps between these two cultures’ expression of these themes. In conjunction with proposed historical frameworks of the colonization of early Greece, the present study seeks to ascertain how influences from the Ancient Near East, specifically Egypt, affected Hesiod’s Theogony. The following discussion will take into consideration Hesiod’s Theogony and the core religious texts of Ancient Egypt, which primarily stem from Egypt’s New Kingdom. After laying a historical foundation for Near Eastern influences found in Greece prior to and during the time of Hesiod, the study will extend into a thematic comparison of Egyptian religious texts and Hesiod’s Theogony. The objective of the following study is to unearth pivotal connections between Ancient Egypt and Greece, ultimately highlighting the role Egyptian religion and culture played in the formation of Hesiod’s Theogony.

2. Ants, Bees, Cities and Colonies: An Analysis of Two Insect Metaphors in Virgil’s Aeneid (Rive Cadwallader) [CIV]

The unmistakable communality (or eusociality, to use a term from the biological sciences) of ants and bees makes these insects accessible literary analogies for human society. This paper briefly explores two similes from Virgil’s Aeneid, which liken human activity to that of insects. I consider the ways in which the visual factor of scale is presented and applied in a poetic context. In the comparisons of the Trojans and Carthaginians to ants and bees, Virgil reasserts differences in both the behavior and circumstances of these two human communities.

3. Photis’ function as a critique on the cult of Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses  (Amy Chan) [LANG]

While scholars have long proffered Photis — Pamphile’s slave and the instigator of Lucius’ titular metamorphosis — as a foil for Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, this paper examines Photis as Isis’ mirror. The similarities between the descriptions of the two women are too abundant to be ignored, and the simultaneous elevation of style in the Photis scenes and menace of enslavement in the Isis scenes suggest that Photis and Isis are two halves of a double-headed coin. In proposing that Photis’ and Isis’ similarity is a criticism on the cult of Isis’ extensive personal control, this paper proposes a satiric interpretation of Book 11 — illuminating another possibility for the rather oblique ending of Metamorphoses.

4. Imperial Democracy: Institutional Design and the Citizenship Law of 451/450 BC as an Athenian Strategy for Empire (Alexis Ciambotti) [LANG]

Supported by the 2016-2017 Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism Program (Andrea Mitchell Center), this research paper examines Athenian strategic institutional design in the fifth century BC. The Athenian assembly in 451/450 BC passed the Citizenship Law (CL) as a measure of strategic institutional design, defined in terms of the composition of a political body, to ensure that Athenian interests would maximally inform future imperial domestic and foreign policy. The CL strategically homogenized every democratic institution in Athens into the immediate posterity, and the assembly of 451/450 BC used the CL to narrow the composition of the electorate in the political institutions such that every vote on every policy, case, or agenda maximally represented Athenian interests. Although the CL was unprecedented in its substantive alterations to citizenship, its applications for strategic institutional design find definitive epigraphical precedent only in the Decree relative to Erythrae of the mid-450s BC. The CL simultaneously reflected an evolving social consciousness among the Athenian voters; namely, a narrowing in their focus from the Athenian state writ large to its relationship with the individual citizen. Aeschylean tragedy prior to the CL illustrates the narrowing consciousness as dramatic performances reflected the collective social identity and sentiments in Athens. 

5. The Beyceğiz Tumulus: A Phrygian Monument and its Social Significance (Braden Cordivari)  [ARCH]

Gordion is a multi-period site located approximately 65 kilometers southwest of the Turkish capital of Ankara. It was the capital of the Iron Age Phrygian kingdom from the 10th to 6th century BCE, including the reign of the legendary King Midas (ca. 740-700 BCE). The site is surrounded by at least 125 tumuli, monumental burial mounds, including the first known examples in Asia Minor. The social significance of tumuli extends beyond their role as burials and includes the importance of the construction process.

6. Baltic Amber on Faliscan Fibulae: Economic Mechanisms and Interpretive Perspectives (Claudia Epley) [ARCH]

This project explores one class of artifacts found within the 7th–6th century BCE tombs from Faliscan Narce: leech fibulae with bows constructed of Baltic amber. At the surface, this combination is paradoxical. Fibulae, an utilitarian object which every Faliscan individual would have owned, is decorated with what is arguably the most mysterious precious material known to the ancient Mediterranean. This project elucidates this relationship by considering both textual and archaeological evidence documenting amber’s trade, value, and its myriad of strange properties and associations.

7. Rethinking the Brontoscopic Calendar: Epidemiology, Climate, and Trade in Iron Age Etruria (Mileidy Gonzalez Negreira) [CIV]

This project looks at the Brontoscopic Calendar, exploring the logic behind the recurrence of the noun “disease.” The purpose is to formulate theories about the impact of infectious diseases on the Iron Age Etruscan society. This research draws upon mostly ancient and classical sources (literature and archaeology), and upon modern scholarship on epidemiology. By speculating on the possible pathogens implicated in the omens that refer to “disease,” this research highlights the impact of climate and routes of transmission on the interaction between pathogen and host. Likewise, it evinces the idea that disease, thus pathogens, are not static but rather active.

8. Paradoxes of Rhetoric: Socrates the Philosopher-King and Johnnie Cochran the Attic (Adam Ireland) [CIV]

In contrast to its recent pedagogical decline and ongoing negative perceptions, the enduring significance of rhetoric as an independent, systematized discipline continues to be emphasized by modern scholars. In light of this dichotomy, this study presents a coherent, cross-cultural review of two renowned, juridical speeches which aims to highlight the vitality, applicability and confluence of classical Greek rhetoric in contemporary legal speech. Employing its own rhetorical taxonomy, this study seeks to illuminate rhetorical interconnections between examples of classical and modern, North-American forensic oratory by highlighting the homogenous and canonical methodology of ancient and modern orators.

9. ἐλευθέρα εἶμεν καὶ ἀνέφαπτος: 
An Examination of the Manumission Inscriptions at Delphi (Claudia Kassner) [LANG + HIST] 

Located at the ancient sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi is a collection of inscriptions that detail the sales of slaves by their owners to the god Apollo. In reality, these slaves were purchasing their freedom, and the Delphic inscriptions are the manumission contracts between slave and slave owner. But how did the Greeks reconcile the integration of slaves into free civilization with their established systems and rationalizations surrounding slavery? My project investigates the Delphic approach to manumission, using the manumission inscriptions in conjunction with evidence from other locales to examine the circumstances and methods that would enable a slave to achieve freedom through the Delphic procedure. Close reading and consideration of these inscriptions reveal a tension between the many advantages manumission offered to slaveowners, and the centuries of alienation and objectification of the slave figure to the appellation of merely σῶμα ("body"). This tension, and other evidence of Greek discomfort and anxiety concerning boundary-crossing and categorical dilemmas, may help explain the strange role of the god in the Delphic epigraphy. 

10. The Real Catiline: How and Why Catiline Has Been Misrepresented (David Kinnaird) [CIV]

This paper focuses on the portrayal of Catiline by Cicero and Sallust, the two most influential sources on the Catilinarian Conspiracy, and what impact their portrayals had on the portrayals of Catiline by later Roman historians. More specifically, this paper examines the difference in word choice between the portrayals in Cicero’s Catilinarian Orations and Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, how the context of the times influenced the two works, and the effect these choices had on the accounts of Catiline’s War by the historians writing centuries later. Lastly, this paper discusses certain aspects of Catiline’s portrayal that were influenced by Cicero and Sallust’s personal agendas, and attempts to identify these aspects and explain the motivations behind their inclusion in the portrayal and persistence in the historical narrative. 

11. The Persians: An Account of Victory and Early Triumphalism (James Konopka) [CIV] 

In my paper, I examine The Persians and how it acted both as an account of the Greeks' victory and an early example of ugly triumphalism. The reason for this paper was to provide an understanding of what the play could be meant for as both a celebration, but also a warning. As evidence, I look at the makings of the play, as well as specific scenes throughout it.

12. The Cost of War: Analyzing the Role of Women in the Iliad and Euripides’ Trojan Women (Brian Mendoza) [CIV]

This paper seeks to examine the different ways in which the female characters of Troy are used to represent different forms of suffering. The status of these figures as icons of suffering is established by analyzing key passages of the Iliad. The focus then shifts to specific analyses of the characters in Euripides’ Trojan Women. This paper suggests that Euripides structured his play to make each of the woman’s suffering unique: from when their suffering occurs, to how they choose to deal with that suffering, to how much time they spend on stage. This paper concludes that the women of Troy are used as reminders that it is the women who live through war that suffer the most. 

13. Tangled Motivations: Community, Mobility, and Frugality in a 10th Century Textile Assemblage from the Mongolian Altai (Kristen Pearson) [ARCH]

This paper presents findings from the analysis of the Uzuur Gyalan burial textiles, which was undertaken beginning in the summer of 2017 with the permission of the Cultural Heritage Center of Mongolia and the Mongolian National Museum. This assemblage reveals distinct patterns in local habitus, including primary spinning in a Z direction and the use of narrow, portable looms for weaving. Exceptions to these patterns are discussed as possible indications of exchange, which may inform further research on contemporary textiles of the region. By establishing local textile habitus, the assemblage is situated in a context of mobility, seasonality, and household economy. Finally, this paper discusses next steps for Mongolian textile archaeology, proposing methodological and theoretical frameworks for future research.

14. The Eruption of Thera: A Disaster Studies Perspective (Samantha Warrick) [ARCH] 

The eruption of Thera has caused extensive debate in the scholarly community about both its date and projected impact on Minoan civilization. This paper will begin with an examination of the context and previous scholarship on the topic, and move into a new perspective on the evidence. I will take a disaster studies perspective to understand the eruption within the context of Minoan civilization, proposing potential effects and response mechanisms outside the usual paradigm of assigning blame for the fall of Crete as a Mediterranean power.

15. Authorial Games of Ancient Rome (Sam Wert) [CIV]

"The aim of this paper is to explore some of the complex reactions that Romans had towards the gaming and gambling culture by unpacking a wide variety of examples of game playing in Roman texts from the mid 1st century BCE to the beginning of the 5th century CE. This paper then looks into all the examples of games and gambling throughout The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. This process will show how authors in Rome looked down upon gambling habits, but actually embraced gambling culture for its power as a literary tool."

16. The Replication and Regulation of Gender and Myths of Sex Change in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Rachel Wood) [LANG]

In this paper, I examine myths of sex change in Ovid’s Metamorphoses through the theoretical framework of West and Zimmerman’s “Doing Gender.” More specifically, I look at the status of uir and the performance of uirtus in the myths of Caeneus, Hermaphroditus, and Iphis. A thorough examination of these myths of sex change is vital to understanding how gender is replicated and regulated throughout the Metamorphoses and for exploring the implications on our understandings of ancient Roman gender.