Student Abstracts 2020

These abstracts of student coursework were submitted by seniors from the class of 2020 for Senior Colloquium, April 2020.

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

1. The Iliad: Far from Political Treatise, Far from Political Neutrality (Anthony Ciro) [CIV]

While the Iliad presents an account of fighting at the end of the Trojan War, it also provides glimpses into a society of which monarchy forms the backbone. It is through this time of strain that fundamental questions regarding the structure and function of the institution of monarchy are brought out from beneath the surface. Questions revolving around the merit, strength, and divine favor of a king, as well as the dissent expressed towards a king, arise throughout the antimonarchic discourse in the poem. Even though the Iliad is not a political treatise, antimonarchic discourse forms a substantial component of the epic. The extent to how generalizable such discourse is in the poem is explored, with special attention paid to the early speeches of Achilleus, Kalchas, and Thersites. 

2. The Role of Punishment in Petronius’s Satyricon: Resemblances between the “Quartilla” and the “Ship of Lichas” Episodes (Maggie Danaher) [LANG + ANCH]

This paper examines the “Quartilla” and the “Ship of Lichas” episodes from Petronius’s Satyricon through the lens of punishment. Narrative features such as the character’s roles and motivations in carrying out punishment as well as the language and structure of both scenes are analyzed in order to ultimately reveal the close relationship between these two separate and fragmentary episodes. By setting up expectations for the reader in the Quartilla episode, Petronius is able to “reconceptualize” certain elements of this scene in the Ship of Lichas episode, which may have been a technique used in the complete version of the Satyricon.

3. Matriarch, Mother, Mouthpiece: Examining Televisual Representations of Livia Drusilla (Catherine de Luna) [CIV]

This paper examines televisual representations of Livia Drusilla, the third wife of Augustus, in three series: I, Claudius (1976), The Sopranos (1999-2007), and Rome (2005-2007). Livia’s life, both historically and televisually, is organized and analyzed through the lens of her roles as matriarch, mother, and a mouthpiece to the gods. In comparing ancient texts and artifacts with cinematic depictions of the Roman matron, one also learns a considerable amount about modern attitudes toward ancient Rome, and toward women who exercised power in the periods when the shows were produced.

4. The Introduction and Presence of “Exotic” Foodstuffs in Late Iron Age and Early Roman Britain: an archaeobotanical analysis (Max Frantz) [LANG + ANCH]

This paper addresses the presence of “exotic” foodstuffs at military, urban, and rural sites in early Roman Britain and whether these foodstuffs were introduced prior to 43 A.D. These issues are discussed through case studies, which analyze archaeobotanical and amphorae evidence, dated to the Late Iron Age and early Roman period. This paper finds that “exotics” were mostly present at urban sites, with a significant number at military sites. Additionally, there is evidence of these “exotics” prior to the Roman conquest, discounting arguments around Romanization and the possibility of fundamental changes to British diet in the early Roman period.

5. Analysis of Hippocratic Tendencies in Places in Man (Cameron Isen) [LANG]

Marked by a sense of novelty and sophistication in his approach, Hippocrates employs unique themes and principles in his works that imbue them with a distinctly Hippocratic tenor. The passage from Places in Man provided exhibits several of these fundamental Hippocratic aspects, as this paper will explore. Primary among these are the emphasis on humors as the cause and mechanism of illness; the intersection and distinction between global and induvial factors of illness; and a distinctly deductive and causal tone. This paper will uncover these thematic elements in Places in Man and other Hippocratic texts to demonstrate their pervasiveness in Hippocrates’ writing.

6. Peace and Alliance in Xenophon’s Hellenica (Max Jokelson) [CIV]

This paper addresses whether Xenophon postulated in the Hellenica that peaceful interstate relations could coexist with, or even be furthered by, alliance creation among the Greek cities. While he does not voice his beliefs directly, through a presentation of the speeches, motivations, and views of the figures in his work, Xenophon presents an evolving view of the relationship between peace and alliance. Focusing on four events, this paper aims to show that Xenophon initially believes that alliance and peace can operate together, but comes to hold that developments in this direction are hindered by the behavior of hegemons.

7. Ἀμήχανος Ἡρωίς: Gender and Power in Apollonius’ Argonautica (Clare Kearns) [LANG]

Who is the hero of Apollonius’ Argonautica? In this Hellenistic epic, the concept of heroism is distinguished from its Homeric predecessors through the notion of the “ἀμήχανος ἥρως,” signalling how power and helplessness shape the experiences of protagonist Jason and his female counterpart Medea. But these experiences differ in gendered ways, with ramifications for agency and heroism in the Argonautica. Using previous literary usages of ἀμηχανία and Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of gendered immanence as theoretical frameworks, this essay will trace the concept of ἀμηχανία throughout Apollonius’ epic to better understand Jason and Medea’s respective heroism (or lack thereof).

8. The Classical Greek Perception of the Trojan War (David Kestenbaum) [CIV]

This paper studies the classical Greek view on the historicity of the Trojan War. To do so, it uses Herodotus’ Histories and Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War as the means of interpreting ancient Greek thought on the Trojan War. Additionally, this paper focuses on modern interpretations of the aforementioned ancient texts as a means of comparing my views with those of other modern scholars. This paper addresses my assertion, from analysis of the writing of ancient and modern scholars, that the Greeks believed that the Trojan War occurred, debating only the exact details of the events surrounding the War.

9. Lasting Legacies of Persecution (Jalen Laughlin) [CIV]

While Rome is a city that was built by foreigners, after several centuries of existence, the new generations of Romans turned away from the ways of their ancestors and sought to shun the influence of a few foreign cultures. Namely, two groups that drew most of the ire from the central authority of Rome were the Jews and the Egyptians. While it can be said that both were persecuted, the treatment of the Jews by Rome was far worse than that of the Egyptians and other minority groups residing in Rome. Even though Egyptian culture at certain points of Rome’s history was in style and had an influence on Rome and its culture, similar advances made by the Jewish culture were not received in the same way.

10. Art from Archaeology: Reconstructive Illustrations and Historical Empathy at the Saronic Harbor site of Kalamianos (Sylvia Moore) [ARCH]

This research uses the archaeological data from surface survey conducted from 2007 to 2009 by the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project to create a series of four illustrations recreating the lived experience of the Mycenaean harbor site, Kalamianos. I was given access to the research of co-directors Thomas F. Tartaron and Daniel J. Pullen to reimagine the site plan in Image One, create a sailor’s view in Image Two, design a scene of daily life in Image Three, and to produce an intimate scene of a threshing floor in Image Four. Each image is extensively researched and attempts to create a product that as much as possible reflects empirical data. The concept for the project is to introduce viewers to a holistic scope of the site, and then to scale each scene down to finish in an intimate scene. Each image gives context for the following image until audiences become acquainted with the layout and the lived experience of ancient peoples in the context of Kalamianos. The project will conclude with the application of these images in educational settings such as field schools and museums to provide scholars and the public with better tools for viewing the past.

11. Roman Citizenship & Political Community (Louis Morledge) [CIV] 

This paper traces the history of Rome from the time of the Gracchi to the consulship of Cicero for lessons about citizenship and Roman political life. The condition of Roman citizenship evolved to fit the tumultuous circumstances of the period between 133-60 BC. The citizen of the Roman republic was one of both the vast expanse of the known world and the smaller community of the city itself. The Roman example may indicate that the listening to voice of the people is imperative and the will of the magistracy is not always aligned with the best interest of the state. In essence, this project aims to answer who and what were Roman citizens.

12. Shakespeare Takes On the Romans: Ovid and Vergil, the Artistic Imagination, and Love over Empire in Antony and Cleopatra (Alyssa Mulé) [CIV]

In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the titular characters refashion classical narratives of Aeneas and Dido in order to subvert the construction of empire propagated by Caesar’s Rome, creating a form of reality in which the love between Dido and Aeneas is uncircumscribed by the constraints of the future Roman Empire. This reversal of Vergilian and Ovidian texts, if only in the realm of imagination, culminates in Cleopatra’s final victory in death over Caesar.  Through the titular characters’ revision of Augustan writing in acts of imagination that merge with reality, love destabilizes the narrative of Caesar’s Rome by triumphing over empire in the end.

13. Medea’s Symposium (Breyasia Scott) [ANCH]

This project explores current issues of exclusivity in the field of Classics through a creative reframing of Medea’s story and a critical examination of my own experiences as a POC/WOC in Penn's Ancient History department. Set in the context of an ancient Greek symposium, this play considers the experience of “the other” and gives a voice to the otherwise silent—women, slaves, and Medea herself—in a dialogue inspired by Plato's Symposium.

14. An Analysis of the Cross-Contextual Supplication Sequence in Book 22 of the Odyssey (Sydney Shiffman) [CIV]

This paper fills a gap in existing research about supplication in Homer’s Odyssey. There is a significant body of scholarship on ritual begging and the two primary contexts for it: the household and the battlefield. Yet, academics have not considered how the intersection of the domestic and warzone spaces complicates this cultural act. This study combines an examination of secondary sources with a thorough analysis of the supplication sequence in Odyssey Book 22. Ultimately, this paper establishes the definition, expectations, and function of the formerly unrecognized third sub-type of ritual begging: cross-contextual supplication.

15. Poseidon, and His Duality as God of the Earth and God of the Sea (John Tsamoutalis) [CIV]

Out of all of the Greek Gods Poseidon stands as the most conflicting in his role. Everybody knows him as the God of the Sea, either from when he sent a flood to swallow up Atlantis or from the countless times he was brought to life through Homer’s poems. Yet, with epithets such as Seischthon and Gaaeiochos (both meaning earth shaker), he also played a vital role in earthquakes, and thus, was also a sort of God of the Earth. And now, where do horses come in? This paper looks at myths from across Europe, with emphasis on Greece, and theories on the Proto-Indo-Europeans to parse out the creation and evolution of Poseidon. Juxtaposing myth and reality, can we finally reconcile Poseidon's dual nature?

16. Excavating Ancient Cities: Troy and Gordion (Eleanor Wynn) [CIV]

While I did not write a thesis, my studies as a Classical Studies (in Classical Civilizations) major did take a certain trajectory in my junior and senior years. This trajectory was largely informed by the scholarly work of Professor Brian Rose and his excellent courses. I wrote this paper on the debates surrounding the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, for Professor Rose’s class CLST 228: Excavating Ancient Cities Troy and Gordion. The paper’s central topics actually tie in nicely with the next Rose class I took, CLST 363 Penn Museum Curatorial Seminar, as we discussed similar topics in this class as well. These topics are: controversial discussions of repatriation, and the ethics of acquiring and showcasing artifacts. My paper on the Elgin Marbles, entitled (cheekily) “Losing My Marbles” describes how these remnants of the Parthenon’s sculptures were acquired by Lord Elgin and why they are now trapped in the British Museum—and touches upon my opinion that their rapture was and is wrong, unjust, and ultimately, sad.