Department of Classics Graduate Theses

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    Wrestling’s Grip on the Past: A Comprehensive Study of Ancient Greek Wrestling
    Bols, Bjorn; Classics; Colivicchi, Fabio
    Wrestling was the first non-running event added to the ancient Olympics in the 18th Olympiad in 708 BC. Wrestling continued to appear in Greek and Roman art and literature all the way until the end of antiquity, leaving behind a large cultural legacy over a period of a thousand years. This long history reflects a level of importance and prestige associated with the sport that is deserving of further study. By applying a modern and practical understanding of grappling sports to the descriptions and images from the ancient world, this research aims to illuminate further details about the ancient sport and its cultural function in Greco-Roman art and literature. Due to the similar general rule-sets and lack of equipment, modern knowledge of wrestling can help inform details about ancient images and texts, and correct misunderstandings and confusion between the modern and ancient sports. With its proven pervasiveness in Greco-Roman culture, wrestling can serve as a valuable nexus point to examine many aspects of ancient life, from art and entertainment, healthcare and philosophy, politics and class, and religion and war. This thesis will present its information in sections to discuss wrestling as it relates to a variety of different topics and artistic mediums. Through the analysis of wrestling in the context of myth, literature, art and other modern interpretations, this work will aim to prove the importance of wrestling to Greek culture and identity in the ancient world and how a practical knowledge of wrestling techniques can help inform these subjects overall.
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    Achilles and Beowulf: Mirror Heroes
    Ghorvei, Michael A.; Classics; Griffith, R. Drew
    Comparative Indo-European (I.E.) and Proto-Indo-European (P.I.E.) studies have for the past 250 years been the crowning achievement of classical philology, brought to the fore by Sir William Jones in 1786. Since his third discourse to the Asiatic Society, a myriad other scholars have directed their tireless effort towards the discovery and classification of P.I.E./I.E. sound-laws through the comparative linguistic approach. Similarly, much ink has been spilled over the exact whereabouts of the hypothetical P.I.E. homeland. One of the most fascinating avenues of research, however, is the comparative reconstruction of many P.I.E. cultural beliefs and figures, such as their cosmogony, cosmology, social structure/practice, and, most importantly to this work, their heroes. This work uses the aforementioned comparative methods and archaeological theories to link and contrast the heroes Achilles and Beowulf, concluding that they are mirror images to one-another. Sharing a common I.E. cultural origin, each reflects a different telling of the same story: the hero *Trito’s struggle against a foe who has slighted his tribe, and the eternal glory he gained after death for his deeds. Achilles and Beowulf face the same struggle and receive the same recompense as their forebear *Trito. However, while Beowulf directs his actions towards glory through the heroic code, Achilles does not, usurping glory for himself outside the code instead. It is through the adherence or departure from this code that these two heroes reflect one-another, offering a broader view on what exactly the character of the I.E. hero is: a man who is principally interested in gaining his own immortality through glory.
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    Domestic Depictions: Women of the Home in 5th-Century Attic Vase Painting
    Landgraf, Georgia; Classics; Zaccagnino, Cristiana
    Mortal women in the Ancient Greek world are generally understudied when compared to their male counterparts. This is partially due to a lack of information from antiquity and a lack of interest from modern scholars. Second wave feminism acted as a catalyst in the study of women in academia, however, larger scale studies of women on Attic vase painting were not seen widely in major scientific journals and books until the 1980s. This thesis attempts to fill in this gap in knowledge through the examination of women depicted in domestic space on 5th-century Attic vessels. This wide time span allows for the evaluation of the changing attitudes towards women as related to historical events within Athens over the century. Through the study of a selection of vessels from the Beazley Archive Pottery Database (BAPD), scenes of mortal women were divided into seven major types: marriage preparations, childcare, household labour, women at leisure, music, a warrior’s departure, and funerary practices. The scenes on these vases are also compared to grave stele of the fifth century due to their similar iconography. Representations of women on the 5th-century vases do not necessarily show the daily lives of the average Athenian housewife, but rather express the important socio-political role women played for both the oikos and the polis serving as a symbolic motif of Athenian prosperity. The iconography of vessels such as these allows for modern viewers to understand the ancient societal expectations placed upon Athenian women throughout the turbulent political context of the fifth century.
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    Bucolic Irony: A Close Reading of Theocritus Idyll One
    Field, Andrew; Classics; Griffith, R. Drew
    Irony, like many abstract Greek nouns, is difficult to pin down to a single definition. Through his sonorous hexameters, Theocritus immediately recalls the Greek oral poetic tradition. In addition to archaic epic traditions, Theocritus incorporates the recent trends of urban poetry, coming mostly out of Alexandria, to aid in his initiation of a “faux” tradition. The terms bucolic and pastoral do not seem to be synonyms, translated from Greek (βουκολικός) into Latin (pastoralis). What it is exactly Theocritus initiated can be explored through a careful analysis of the surfeit of traditions present in his poetry. The result of this analysis has yielded an understanding of Idyll One that, due to the programmatic nature of that poem, can serve as a starting point for future research into Theocritus and ancient pastoral or bucolic poetry. In Idyll One, Thyrsis and the goatherd seem to abide by a set of rules that gives the lines a palpable irony: it is as if two competing Homeric singers suddenly started singing about the countryside and Pan as a way to compete and argue contemporary poetics. The weaving of traditions, in addition to multiple opportunities for simultaneously complex and simple interpretations, initiates the phenomenon of bucolic irony; this phenomenon both unites the Greek bucolicists and differentiates them from later pastoralists. The approach to irony offered is based largely on Aristotle, but also a modern theory of humour, taking “irony” to mean, most basically, “a misrepresentation of understanding”. Through the evolution of ancient conceptions surrounding both the words βουκολέω and εἴρων, the term bucolic irony is outlined in the first two chapters, followed by four chapters dedicated to a close reading of Idyll One.
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    AN INVESTIGATION OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR ROMAN BRITAIN AND ITS CONTEMPORARY RECEPTION WITHIN BRITISH SOCIETY
    Walsh-Beauchamp, Raphaelle; Classics; Zaccagnino, Cristiana
    This project will analyze nineteenth-century archaeological records for Roman-British sites and policies involving artefacts and museums. I will use findings to form connections between archaeological activity during the Victorian period and contemporary British thought on Britain’s past, racial hierarchies, and imperialism. Particularly pertinent to this study is the way in which Britons used their perceived Roman past to justify the expansion and maintenance of their empire. This period of archaeological excavation was a unique time in which science and storytelling intermingled to create a picture of Britain’s past. The sudden increase in finding the remains of Roman Britain was attributed to the demands of urbanization during the nineteenth century. Thus far, Victoria Hoselitz’s work Imagining Roman Britain: Victorian responses to a Roman past (2007) is the only study I have come across to utilize a similar approach to that of my project in order to draw conclusions about British culture during the Victorian period. In order to complete my research, I have consulted nineteenth-century excavation reports by various British antiquarians. In addition, rare, published works and physical remains at various institutions, including the British Library and the British Museum, have been consulted.