Majors can participate in the College’s study abroad programs in Athens and Rome and gain first-hand experience with classical sites. Students can spend a semester in Rome or Athens or one semester in each city.
There is also a new Maymester program in Rome (PDF) titled "Rome in History and Imagination," offered in May-June.
Classics majors have many and diverse opportunities for conducting research. Some majors pursue year-long senior theses, either through the College Honors program or within the department.
Research frequently takes place in class, as well. Podcasts created by the students in Professor Aaron Seider's course on Vergil's “Eclogues” and “Georgics” are now available through iTunes U. Read more about the project.
Abstracts of Senior Theses, 2016-2017
Charles Schufreider, “On the format of the scholia to the Iliad in the Venetus A”
While the layout of Venetus A manuscript, an important tenth-century C.E. manuscript of the Iliad, is understood well, the purpose of its unique layout is not. On each page there are both lines from the poem and scholia, or scholarly footnotes commenting on the poem. These scholia appear on the page in five distinct zones. My thesis applied methods of distant reading in order to better understand how these five zones function. Distant reading, as opposed to close reading, uses a computer to run broad statistical analyses across large corpora of texts. I was able to demonstrate that these zones differ significantly in content and style, which suggests that each came from its own separate source tradition. Thus the five zones should never be treated as being equivalent, but as their own separate documents each with its own function, style, and history.
Jason Steranko, “Methods of Persuasion in Josephus’s Against Apion”
My thesis explores Against Apion, the final book written by the first-century C.E. historian Flavius Josephus. Although he is known for his long works of history, the Jewish War and the Jewish Antiquities, Against Apion is often considered his tightest, best argued work. It is a spirited defense of the Jewish people and their laws against the anti-Semitic slanders of firstcentury writers. In it Josephus draws upon the Greco-Roman historiographical tradition to bolster his authority and legitimize the existence of his people. My thesis follows the rhetorical strategies he employs as a historian who is both writing within this tradition and critiquing it from an outside perspective. I conclude with a consideration of the audiences constructed by Against Apion and of whether or not the text endeavors to spread Judaism among gentile readers.
Melody Wauke, “Alexandrian editors and the scholia of the Venetus A”
The tenth century Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad contains very little information about the sources for its scholia, or scholarly comments, which fill the margins of the pages. In the second century B.C.E. at the library of Alexandria, Aristarchus created his own edition and commentary of the Iliad. Although his works were no longer extant even at the time of the creation of the Venetus A, they survived through paraphrases and copies of certain parts. Thus his editions are referenced and directly excerpted in the scholia of the Venetus A. The goal of my thesis is to identify the scholia which come directly from Aristarchus’ own editions. I approach this task by selecting a set of features which indicate that a scholion’s source is either Aristarchan or post-Aristarchan. Then, from this clustering of features, I create an Aristarchan scholia identifier using a machine learning model. With this model, I am able to recover original Aristarchan material from over two millennia ago.
Abstracts of Senior Theses, 2015-2016
Steven Merola, “Apologetic Epinoiai: Christ as Light and Wisdom in Origen’s ‘Contra Celsum’ ”
The third-century theologian Origen of Alexandria developed a sophisticated doctrine on the names of Christ. He called these different names epinoiai, or “conceptualizations.” Drawing from a well-developed philosophical and religious tradition, Origen sees these different conceptualizations as the means by which the Second Person of the Trinity relates to creation. Some of these epinoiai are inherent to the divine life while others exist solely to raise creatures to a fuller participation in the Godhead. In this thesis I compare Origen’s use of two conceptualizations – Wisdom and Light – in his works written for Christians to his use of them in his apologetic text “Against Celsus.” I examine how Origen develops his understanding of these two epinoiai in his writings for Christians and then see how he adapts them for his debate with Celsus, a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher. I conclude by showing the relevance of this ancient doctrine to modern theological controversies about the naming of God.
Joseph MacNeill (Fenwick Scholar for 2015-16), "God as Logos: Theology in Postmodernity"
The problem of theology is a perennial one, that is, how is it that we can speak of God? Whereas the pre-moderns could rely on a theology firmly founded in a vast metaphysical metanarrative, modernity has witnessed the failure of the metanarrative as such, leaving postmodernity with a pronounced post-structuralism. The recovery of a theology for postmodernity has largely involved adopting the piecemeal approach of the postmoderns, variously directed against modernity's intrusions into the Christian tradition. The Radical Orthodoxy movement has typified this strategy, staging a number of isolated efforts at repositioning particular shards of the shattered metanarrative within a loose framework of theology, all while rebuffing any intimations of a reactionary brand of neo-orthodoxy. The unfortunate result has been a theology stripped of ecclesiology, a radically subjective endeavor. I argue, on the other hand, that theology is radically objective, inasmuch as it is the site of the condescension of the one divine Logos into man's problematic logos of God. Theology, then, is primarily an encounter, one which expands through testimony into the community of the ecclesia. Nowhere is this more the case than in the seminal theology of John the Theologian, who presents theosas logos at the very beginning of his Gospel. It is precisely because of this — because God is logos — that we can do theology, in postmodernity and otherwise.
Christopher Ryan, "A contemporary Understanding of Free Will in Augustinian Death”
Augustine of Hippo is widely known for shaping the Christian understanding of free will and grace. Less studied, however, is the role that death plays in Augustine’s writings. My thesis examines how Augustine might advise a Christian to die and where he might see grace in death, in order to contribute to the modern debate surrounding the right to die. To abridge the gap between Augustine’s understanding of death and our own, I compare Augustine’s writings on death with the writings of Karl Rahner, the twentieth-century theologian who significantly contributed to modern Catholic teaching on death.
Abstracts of Senior Theses, 2014-2015
Andrew Boudon, “Cognitive Dissonance after the Lamian War and Changes in the Greek Understanding of Divinity”
This paper investigates the implications of the aftermath of the Lamian War on Athenian religious ideas. A passage from Plutarch’s “Life of Phocion” describes the extreme stress which these events put on citizens of Athens. By applying the modern psychological theory of cognitive dissonance, we can begin to search for ways in which Athenians may have reconciled their beliefs with the reality that the gods had permitted their loss in the war. Our search yields the discovery of several ways Athenians may have resolved their dissonance, as well as a change in the formulation of religious argument which has implications for religious populations throughout history.
Nikolas Churik, “Paraphrasing Homer: Studies of a Byzantine Paraphrase of the 'Iliad' ”
With the afterlife of the “Iliad” the genre of paraphrases arose. These are intralingual, prose translations of the epic from Homeric to Byzantine Greek. Although the paraphrases have long been thought to be mechanistic trots of the text, this paper tries to demonstrate the innovation within the texts and to reconsider some the practices behind ancient translation. The main text for this project was Book 15 of the paraphrase of Michael Psellos, an 11th century Byzantine scholar.
Brian Clark, “Retellings of the 'Iliad' and the Epic Cycle”
The goal of this thesis is to look at a variety of retellings of the traditional stories that surround the Trojan War, in order to understand how later authors deal with these highly complex epics. By a retelling, I mean a later source that works with the same thematic material, but condenses one or more of these epics from their original form with the purpose of reuse. I have divided the relevant passages of the Proclus summaries of the Epic Cycle, Apollodorus' “Library,” John Tzetzes' “Homeric Allegories,” an unpublished hypothesis of the “Iliad,” and the texts and images on the Tabula Capitolina into distinct episodes. Then, I have compared these corresponding episodes across these various retellings in order to better understand the multiformity and highly compressed allusion among them. Wherever possible, I have worked with primary source documents and created diplomatic digital editions to accompany my research.
Lindsey Nemshick, “The Veiled Power of the Female Voice in Homer's ‘Odyssey’ ” (for the College Honors program)
My thesis seeks to explore the power of the female voice in Homer’s Odyssey through the voice and gesture of its leading female character, Penelope. Analyzing Penelope’s character in public male audience in Book 1 and in a private male audience in Book 19, my work desires to contribute to the newly developing characterization of Penelope as a woman who is concerned about maintaining her own kratos (authority) and kleos (fame) in her oikos (household). Penelope’s various interactions with men, including her son Telemachus, reveal her as a strategic female character, who preserves her female gesture to mitigate her use of male discourse.
Classics majors have been part of the Summer Research Program in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts since its inception in 2010.
Brian Clark '15, Claude Hanley '18, Stephanie Neville '17, Charlie Schufreider '17, Alex Simrell '16, and Melody Wauke '17 continued the work of the Homer Multitext Project by completing a digital edition of Book 18 of the “Iliad” from the Venetus A manuscript. Nicholas Jalbert '16 worked on a novel inspired by the 19th-century German scholar Max Mueller's writings about the kinship of scholarship and poetry. These students presented their work at the 2015 Summer Research Symposium.
In the Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents (MID) Club, a recognized student organization, students work on the editing and publication of a variety of primary sources from the ancient world: manuscripts of Greek and Latin texts, as well as inscriptions on stone.
The club meets on a weekly basis to pursue research on primary sources. Over the past few years, projects have included work on manuscripts of Homer's “Iliad” and related texts, manuscripts of Jerome's “Chronicles,” mathematical diagrams in Greek and Latin manuscripts, and early manuscripts of Gregorian chant. For more information, visit the club's website, and read the classics blog posts on the Gregorian chant project and on the Homeric researchers' presentation of their work.
Parnassus, a journal produced annually by students in the department, showcases some of the research students do for courses or other projects, as well as creative writing and artwork.
Debbie Sokolowski '14, the editor-in-chief of the second issue of Parnassus, introduced the journal in this way: "Parnassus’ mission is to share the passion of Holy Cross students for the ancient world. This journal provides students with a way to share work from courses, research, and other projects with a wide audience. All pieces aim to be generally understandable, allowing the study of the ancient world to be more accessible to non-specialists in the community."
Steven Merola '16, the editor-in-chief of the third issue, expanded on the image of Parnassus by noting that "our contributors are none other than contemporary types of the ancient Muses, whose love for knowledge and mastery over the written word animate this hill with their passion for the classical world."
Issues of Parnassus, going back to the debut issue from the spring of 2014, are available here on the publication platform of the Holy Cross Libraries, CrossWorks.
Teacher Education Program
Classics majors frequently participate in the Teacher Education Program (TEP), which prepares students for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to taking courses in the major, students enroll in education courses specifically designed to promote excellence in teaching. The Holy Cross TEP places a special emphasis on issues surrounding urban education.
Visit the Teacher Education Program site for more information.