Student Abstracts 2019

These abstracts of student coursework were submitted by seniors from the class of 2019 for Senior Colloquium, April 2019.

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

1. Philip II of Macedon’s Military Reforms: The Dominance of the Macedonian Army (William D’Angelo) [ANCH]

Few leaders have had more of an impact on world history than Philip II and his son Alexander the Great. Changing the course of history for Greece, the Middle East, and Egypt, the dominance of the Macedonian army under their leadership allowed these kings to create one of the greatest empires in history. This paper focuses on how the early military reforms of Philip II uniquely fit him to take control of the Greek peninsula more easily than any other leader who had attempted the same. The reforms, which were one of the first acts of Philip II, showcase his leadership skills and his ability to analyze his enemies, as well as paving the way for Alexander the Great to topple the Persian Empire. 

2. Greek Loanwords into Etruscan, and Etruria’s Relationship with her Neighbors: A Comparative Sociolinguistic Perspective (Peter Carzis) [CIV]

This paper aims to reconstruct the external relations and patterns of migration that characterized ancient Etruria between the eighth and first centuries BC by aggregating linguistic data from the corpus of Etruscan inscriptions, and analyzing this data within frameworks borrowed from historical sociolinguistics. Specifically, this paper looks at three groups of loanwords into Etruscan: 1. Umbrian loanwords; 2. Greek loanwords pertaining to ceramic items; and 3. Greek loanwords pertaining to religious and mythological figures. This data suggests that while linguistic contact with Umbrian is attested in Etruria's uplands, and Greek ceramic vocabulary fairly well attested in Etruscan ports, the more geographically robust diffusion of mythological loanwords throughout the entire region beginning in the late sixth century suggests a more sophisticated pattern of lexical acculturation, and may corroborate substantial Greek migration during that period.

3. The Fourth Century Athenian Economic Miracle and the World’s First Credit Market  (Vassilios Fassas) [CIV] 

Scholarship revolving around ancient economic activity is very polarizing. The Modernist-Primitivism and the Formalist-Substantivist debates have dominated the study since the 1970s. Formalist believe that the Athenian economy can be analyzed by the same principles of modern economies, such as concepts like utility maximization and profit maximization. Modernists are convinced that the Athenian economy was well-developed and functioned through a markets that allocated resources based on decisions by self-interested and logical economic actors. This paper advocates for the modernist approach to analyzing the Classical Athenian economy and will not place too much emphasis on the Formalist-Substantivist debate. While there is undoubtedly merit to the argument that the fourth century Athenian economy matched the contemporary American economy in the structure of its credit market, my work also supports Finley’s Substantivist argument to the extent that I agree that social considerations played a driving force in the organization of economic activity.

4. Recovering Lost Voices: The Experiences of Women during the Peloponnesian War (Victoria Greene) [LANG+ANCH]

Thucydides’ Histories provides a detailed and gripping narrative of the Peloponnesian War, full of dramatic battles, mesmerizing oratory, and striking descriptions of human suffering.  However, one side of the story that is glaringly absent from Thucydides’ account is that of women. This project aims to piece together the experiences of women during the Peloponnesian War, a subject for which there is little evidence and existing scholarship.  In order to deal with this dearth of source material, as well as the problem of male authorship, I put various forms of evidence into dialogue with each other, supplementing Thucydides’ account of the war with Xenophon’s Hellenica, contemporary plays from Euripides and Aristophanes, legal cases, the inscriptional record, and works of art.  Based on a close examination of this body of evidence, I argue that the lives of women were deeply entangled with the war and that they suffered its consequences heavily, enduring displacement from their homes, entrapment in besieged cities, capture, enslavement, rape, widowhood, and the loss of their children. 

5. Love, Eros, and Philosophy: The Union of Desire and Philosophy in Plato’s Symposium (Michael Kleiman)  [LANG]

This paper is a response to the statement that, in the context of other Ancient Greek writings, Plato’s view of love is “idiosyncratic, if brilliant.” In this paper, I examine Plato’s descriptions of common views on love and other ancient authors’ descriptions of the effects of love, and compare them with the novel description of eros (translated as “love”) which Plato presents in his Symposium and Phaedrus. The result of this comparison is that Plato is intentionally radical, which I argue is not only for the purpose of provoking lasting discussion, but also is a brilliant way of “reconciling the common tendency to love and desire with the Platonic view of what makes a philosopher.”

 6. The Evolution of an Allegorical Masterpiece: Peter Paul Rubens and The Judgment of Paris (Catherine McNally) [LANG]

From the beginning of his artistic career in the Guild of St. Luke to the end of his life as an artist-scholar-diplomat, Peter Paul Rubens maintained an enduring fascination with the Judgment of Paris narrative that resulted in seven compositions of the myth. This project explores the influence of classical mythology, ancient sculpture, and Neostoicism on four of these seven compositions in order to survey and critique the different spheres of influence evident in each visual representation of the literary narrative. By examining these paintings in a trajectorial manner, we may conduct an iconological analysis of his latest composition that employs several metaphorical allusions to other myths involving the paradigm of choice to represent his own allegorical interpretation on decision-making to the Spanish monarchy. 

7. A Second Take on The Second Punic War (Ryan Sobel) [CIV]

One of the most notorious bon mots of the classical era was allegedly uttered by a Carthaginian commander, Maharbal, following Hannibal’s great victory over the Romans at Cannae. With the consular armies destroyed, Maharbal claimed to Hannibal “in five days you will be feasting in the Capitol” going on to note, “You know how to win victory, Hannibal, you do not how to use it” (Liv. AUC 22.51). With the backdrop set, this paper examines the divergent representations of Hannibal’s strategies presented by Roman and Greek authors in an attempt to dispel myths surrounding the Hannibal’s Italian campaign. This continues into a reappraisal of Hannibal’s strategies with an eye towards the constraints that the general faced and how he had to operate around them.

8. Literary Gossip in Troilus and Criseyde and The Testament of Cresseid (Nancy Yuan) [CIV]

This paper explores two medieval narratives that return to the Trojan story. In Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Troy is re-imagined as a site of failed romance. Criseyde's infidelity in Troilus and Criseyde results in a tradition in medieval literature of writing ill of the woman who abandoned Troilus. In this paper, I discuss how Robert Henryson and Chaucer contribute to a literary tradition of gossiping about Cressida, how medieval defamation laws influenced Henryson's continuation of Chaucer's narrative, and how The Testament of Cresseid reflects on the implications of participating in such a tradition.

9. From Ancient to Modern Medicine: Hippocrates and Galen in 19th-Century U.S. Medical School Curricula (Rachel Zachian) [LANG]

In this paper, I investigate the transition from study of ancient medicine to that of modern medicine in U.S. medical school curricula in the 19th century, with a focus on the University of Pennsylvania. This study details the prevalence of Hippocratic influence in medical lessons and texts at this time, the reasons for and extent of this reform, and the arguments for and against reform. My research will show that the works of Hippocrates and Galen did not fade from medical school curricula in the United States without great controversy between those who supported knowledge of ancient medicine and those who believed that it was irrelevant to medicine in the face of the rise of bacteriology. Although medical schools did eventually remove Classical language requirements and direct teaching of the Hippocratic Corpus from their curricula, more subtle Hippocratic influences are still apparent in medicine today.