Colloquium in Memory of Penelope Biggs

Sponsored by the Department of Classics and the Program in Comparative Literature



8:30am - 9:00am



9:00am - 9:15am



9:15am - 10:15am

Ovid's Contesting Muses

John F. Miller, Arthur F. and Marian W. Stocker Professor of Classics, University of Virginia

This talk explores how, against backgrounds of ancient literature, scholarship, and artistic reception, Ovid stages the strange scenario of the Muses disagreeing with one another and how a Renaissance Latin imitator resolves the difficulty.


10:15am - 10:30am



10:30am - 11:30am

Teaching Latin in the USA: Challenges and Opportunities

Teresa Ramsby, Professor of Classics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Professor Ramsby will describe the trends in Latin pedagogy in the United States and discuss the challenges facing Latin teachers and Latin programs. Her talk will offer some strategies we, as educators and teachers of educators, can implement to overcome these challenges and transform some of them into opportunities. There are many resources and programs that support Latin teachers and that augment best practices in Latin teaching. Prepared with information and working together, we can help Latin programs survive and thrive in the United States.


11:30am - 12:30pm



12:30pm - 1:30pm

The Cure at Athens: The Disease Theme in Sophocles’ Ajax and Oedipus at Colonus

Sheila Murnaghan, Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Professor of Greek, University of Pennsylvania

Building on Penelope Biggs’s important discussion of “the disease theme” in Sophocles, this talk focuses on the concepts of sickness and cure in relation to two protagonists, Ajax and Oedipus, who are destined to become cult heroes in Athens.  In Sophocles’ depiction of these heroes’ deaths, a human understanding of life as an alternating sequence of diseases and cures, and of medical skill as a proud human achievement, is integrated with a divine vision that transcends ordinary human distinctions and concepts of time. 


1:30pm - 1:45pm

Thoughts from the Biggs Family


1:45pm - 2:15pm






Please RSVP via the link below by November 17, 2023, in order to secure your attendance. A virtual option will be available for these lectures. 

RSVP at this link for either in-person or Zoom attendance.