Research

Scholarly expertise spanning the ancient world

Research across the department

The Classics faculty engages in research across many areas of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. The cultures and literatures of the Roman empire are especially well represented; our faculty includes experts in areas such as education, literary reception, medicine, music and performance, material culture, religion, and economics. We are also proud of our work on other rich topics ranging from early Greece to Classical reception and pedagogy, areas in which we also support student research. Collaboration with students also enriches faculty research: undergraduate and graduate assistants participate in numerous ongoing projects.

Recent Faculty Research

Nicola Aravecchia’s latest book project explores early Christianity in Egypt and focuses on a fourth-century church that he and his team excavated at the site of Amheida (ancient Trimithis), in Egypt’s Western Desert.

Elena Baldi, our Postdoctoral Fellow in numismatics, is hard at work building the catalogue and database of the university’s John Max Wulfing Collection of Ancient Coins and Related Objects.

William Bubelis has been collaborating with Dr. Baldi on the Wulfing catalogue and database. His recent publications and projects have ranged from Greek numismatics and economics to Athenian legal and religious institutions to politics in Greek oratory.

Ian Hollenbaugh is developing a monograph on the Indo-European verb, as well as digital corpora of texts that he has tagged in his research on the uses of various tenses in context.

Lance Jenott studies both New Testament apocrypha and Egyptian monastic literature that reveals facets of ancient Egyptian Christianity beyond the confines of Scripture and orthodox doctrines. He is currently writing a commentary on the Gospel of Judas for the Hermeneia series. He recently published a translation of the Coptic Investiture of the Archangel Gabriel, as well as an edition, translation, and literary-historical analysis of The Book of the Foreigner from Codex Tchacos in the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists.

Cathy Keane is writing a commentary on Juvenal’s fifth book of Satires (poems 13-16). She is also engaged in an ongoing exploration of the poetics of Roman satire and related genres, including intertextuality between the Epigrams of Martial and the Satires of Juvenal.

Tom Keeline has just published a commentary on Cicero’s speech Pro Milone. Other recent publications have ranged from the first century BC (“Were Cicero’s Philippics the Cause of his Death?”) through the nineteenth century AD (“Are You Smarter than a Sixth-Former? Verse Composition and Linguistic Proficiency in Victorian Classical Exams”), with stops along the way in the first century AD (word order in Pliny the Younger), late(r) antiquity (the Latin Anthology; Terentianus Maurus), and the early modern period (Count Zinzendorf and Moravian Latin). He is now preparing a digital text of Ovid’s Ibis and working on pedagogical topics both ancient (Asconius; Latin grammarians) and modern (learning and teaching Latin vocabulary). Tom is committed to exploring the richness of Latin and the classical tradition from antiquity to the present; for example, he is co-organizing a panel at the 2022 CAMWS annual meeting on the use of Latin by about about indigenous Americans.

Tim Moore researches and publishes on topics of ancient music, theater, and meter, and is working on a major digital project housed in the Humanities Digital Workshop: a database of meters in Greek drama.

Luis Salas has published a book on Galen’s anatomical experiments, and has been working on shorter projects concerned with Galen’s anatomy, physiology, definitions of disease, and approach to psychological disease. 

Rebecca Sears is writing a textbook on ancient Greek and Roman music. She also researches Ovid’s poetry and its reception.

Zoe Stamatopoulou is writing a commentary and translation on Plutarch’s dialogue Symposium of the Seven Sages. She also continues to research and publish on the poetry of Hesiod and other Greek authors of the Archaic and Classical periods.

Kate Wilson’s research in the field of Hellenistic didactic and scientific poetry and poetics is represented in numerous short publications and a book in progress. She has also been exploring topics in Classical pedagogy and race, on the topic of which she organized a special exhibition at the Kemper Art Museum and a new course.

Undergraduate Research

Visit our undergraduate research page for recent thesis topics, assistantship opportunities, and other projects!

Learn More Here

Recent MA Theses

In-Progress Dissertations

“Gesture and Solo Dance in Greek and Roman Comedy” (Marleigh Anderson)
“The Pristine and the Pure: Sex, Gender, and Narrative in Achilles Tatius” (Joe MacDonald)
“The Three-obol Phratry: Aristophanes on the Monetization of Democratic Politics” (Constantine Karathanasis)

the faculty bookshelf

Cicero: Pro Milone
'Ain el-Gedida: 2006-2008 Excavations of a Late Antique Site in Egypt's Western Desert
An Oasis City
The Reception of Cicero in the Early Roman Empire: The Rhetorical Schoolroom and the Creation of a Cultural Legend
Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry
Hallowed Stewards: Solon and the Sacred Treasurers of Ancient Athens
Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions
The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices
Three Comedies
Roman Theatre
Music in Roman Comedy
The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation of 'the Betrayer's Gospel'
A Roman Verse Satire Reader: Selections from Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal
Figuring Genre in Roman Satire
The Theater of Plautus: Playing to the Audience

Cicero: Pro Milone

The Pro Milone numbers among Cicero's most famous speeches. In it he defends his friend T. Annius Milo against the charge of murdering P. Clodius Pulcher, Cicero's own archenemy. Clodius' death, Milo's trial, and their aftermath consumed Roman public life in 52 BC, involving every major political figure of the day. Although Cicero's defense failed, the published speech remains one of his finest, a fascinating document from a turbulent time, full of interest both historical and rhetorical. This edition, aimed at students and scholars alike, provides readers with the help that they need to appreciate the speech as a literary masterpiece and a historical text. Including a comprehensive introduction and a newly constituted Latin text, it provides detailed treatment of Cicero's language, style, and rhetorical techniques, as well as full discussion of the historical background and the larger social and cultural issues relevant to the speech.

'Ain el-Gedida: 2006-2008 Excavations of a Late Antique Site in Egypt's Western Desert

‘Ain el-Gedida: 2006-2008 Excavations of a Late Antique Site in Egypt's Western Desert is a presentation of primary evidence from an archaeological dig at ‘Ain el-Gedida. ‘Ain el-Gedida dates to the 4th century and is a uniquely important archaeological site for the study of early Egyptian Christianity; it is also a rare example of a type of Late Roman rural settlement that was previously known only from written sources.

The authors first present the data collected during excavations of various buildings and rooms at ‘Ain el-Gedida; in the second half of the book, specialists on the ‘Ain el-Gedida research team catalog and describe what was found at the site: ceramics, coins, ostraka, and zooarcheological remains.

An Oasis City

Scattered through the vast expanse of stone and sand that makes up Egypt’s Western Desert are several oases. These islands of green in the midst of the Sahara owe their existence to springs and wells drawing on ancient aquifers. In antiquity, as today, they supported agricultural communities, going back to Neolithic times but expanding greatly in the millennium from the Saite pharaohs to the Roman emperors. New technologies of irrigation and transportation made the oases integral parts of an imperial economy.  

Amheida, ancient Trimithis, was one of those oasis communities. Located in the western part of the Dakhla Oasis, it was an important regional center, reaching a peak in the Roman period before being abandoned. Over the past decade, excavations at this well-preserved site have revealed its urban layout and brought to light houses, streets, a bath, a school, and a church. The only standing brick pyramid of the Roman period in Egypt has been restored. Wall-paintings, temple reliefs, pottery, and texts all contribute to give a lively sense of its political, religious, economic, and cultural life. This book presents these aspects of the city’s existence and its close ties to the Nile valley, by way of long desert roads, in an accessible and richly illustrated fashion. 

The Reception of Cicero in the Early Roman Empire: The Rhetorical Schoolroom and the Creation of a Cultural Legend

Cicero was one of the most important political, intellectual, and literary figures of the late Roman Republic, rising to the consulship as a 'new man' and leading a complex and contradictory life. After his murder in 43 BC, he was indeed remembered for his life and his works - but not for all of them. This book explores Cicero's reception in the early Roman Empire, showing what was remembered and why. It argues that early imperial politics and Cicero's schoolroom canonization had pervasive effects on his reception, with declamation and the schoolroom mediating and even creating his memory in subsequent generations. The way he was deployed in the schools was foundational to the version of Cicero found in literature and the educated imagination in the early Roman Empire, yielding a man stripped of the complex contradictions of his own lifetime and polarized into a literary and political symbol.

Hesiod and Classical Greek Poetry

Hesiod was regarded by the Greeks as a foundational figure of their culture, alongside Homer. This book examines the rich and varied engagement of fifth-century lyric and drama with the poetic corpus attributed to Hesiod as well as with the poetic figure of Hesiod. The first half of the book is dedicated to Hesiodic reception in Pindaric and Bacchylidean poetry, with a particular focus on poetics, genealogies and mythological narratives, and didactic voices. The second half examines how Hesiodic narratives are approached and appropriated in tragedy and satyr drama, especially in the Prometheus plays and in Euripides' Ion. It also explores the multifaceted engagement of Old Comedy with the poetry and authority associated with Hesiod. Through close readings of numerous case studies, the book surveys the complex landscape of Hesiodic reception in the fifth century BCE, focusing primarily on lyric and dramatic responses to the Hesiodic tradition.

Hallowed Stewards: Solon and the Sacred Treasurers of Ancient Athens

Students of ancient Athenian politics, governance, and religion have long stumbled over the rich evidence of inscriptions and literary texts that document the Athenians’ stewardship of the wealth of the gods. Likewise, Athens was well known for devoting public energy and funds to all matters of ritual, ranging from the building of temples to major religious sacrifices. Yet, lacking any adequate account of how the Athenians organized that commitment, much less how it arose and developed, ancient historians and philologists alike have labored with only a paltry understanding of what was a central concern to the Athenians themselves. That deficit of knowledge, in turn, has constrained and diminished our grasp of other essential questions surrounding Athenian society and its history, such as the nature of political life in archaic Athens, and the forces underlying Athens’ imperial finances.

Hallowed Stewards closely examines those magistracies that were central to Athenian religious efforts, and which are best described as “sacred treasurers.” Given the extensive but fragmentary evidence available to us, which consists mainly of inscriptions but includes such texts as the ps.-Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians, no catalog-like approach to these offices could properly encompass their details, much less their wider significance. By situating the sacred treasurers within a broader religious and historical framework, Hallowed Stewards not only provides an incisive portrait of the treasurers themselves but also elucidates how sacred property and public finance alike developed in ancient Athens.

Juvenal and the Satiric Emotions

In his sixteen verse Satires, Juvenal explores the emotional provocations and pleasures associated with social criticism and mockery. He makes use of traditional generic elements such as the first-person speaker, moral diatribe, narrative, and literary allusion to create this new satiric preoccupation and theme. Juvenal defines the satirist figure as an emotional agent who dramatizes his own response to human vices and faults, and he in turn aims to engage other people's feelings. Over the course of his career, he adopts a series of rhetorical personae that represent a spectrum of satiric emotions, encouraging his audience to ponder satire's proper emotional mode and function. Juvenal first offers his signature indignatio with its associated pleasures and discomforts, then tries on subtler personae that suggest dry detachment, callous amusement, anxiety, and other affective states.

As Keane shows, the satiric emotions are not only found in the author's rhetorical performances, but they are also a major part of the human farrago that the Satires purport to treat. Juvenal's poems explore the dynamic operation of emotions in society, drawing on diverse ancient literary, rhetorical, and philosophical sources. Each poem uniquely engages with different texts and ideas to reveal the unsettling powers of its emotional mode. Keane also analyzes the "emotional plot" of each book of Satires and the structural logic of the entire series with its wide range of subjects and settings. From his famous angry tirades to his more puzzling later meditations, Juvenal demonstrates an enduring interest in the relationship between feelings and moral judgment.

The Monastic Origins of the Nag Hammadi Codices

Hugo Lundhaug and Lance Jenott offer a sustained argument for the monastic provenance of the Nag Hammadi Codices. They examine the arguments for and against a monastic Sitz im Leben and defend the view that the Codices were produced and read by Christian monks, most likely Pachomians, in the fourth- and fifth-century monasteries of Upper Egypt. Eschewing the modern classification of the Nag Hammadi texts as »Gnostic,« the authors approach the codices and their ancient owners from the perspective of the diverse monastic culture of late antique Egypt and situate them in the context of the ongoing controversies over extra-canonical literature and the theological legacy of Origen. Through a combination of sources, including idealized hagiographies, travelogues, monastic rules and exhortations, and the more quotidian details revealed in documentary papyri, manuscript collections, and archaeology, monasticism in the Thebaid is brought to life, and the Nag Hammadi codices situated within it. The cartonnage papyri from the leather covers of the codices, which bear witness to the monastic culture of the region, are closely examined, while scribal and codicological features of the codices are analyzed and compared with contemporary manuscripts from Egypt. Special attention is given to the codices' scribal notes and colophons which offer direct evidence of their producers and users. The study ultimately reveals the Nag Hammadi Codices as a collection of books completely at home in the monastic manuscript culture of late antique Egypt.

Three Comedies

Three Comedies features the work of three dramatic geniuses of the glorious, no-holds-barred tradition of ancient Athenian comedy. Here Aristophanes, the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of Old and Middle Comedy meets Menander, elephant in the room of New Comedy, in a match made possible by Douglass Parker—if not Athenian exactly, or even ancient, possibly the maddest chameleon ever to absorb the true colors of an ancient choral song, transpose a lost pun, or channel a venerable, giant, dung-eating cockroach for the benefit of those who couldn’t be there the first time.

Timothy J. Moore offers concise and informative introductions and notes to Parker’s brilliant translation of Aristophanes' fantastical Peace and Money, the God and Menander’s lively, domestic Samia—and includes, as a bonus, Parker's James Constantine Lecture at the University of Virginia, "A Desolation Called Peace: Trials of an Aristophanic Translator."

Roman Theatre

When we think of ancient theatre today, we tend to think of Greek theatre. Yet the Romans also had a lively and varied set of theatrical traditions, which have had a considerable influence on later drama. This book offers an introduction to these traditions, including the origins of Roman theatre, the extant plays of Plautus, Terence and Seneca, and the many works of comedy, tragedy, mime and pantomime that no longer survive as written texts. The emphasis throughout is on performance, the role of these theatrical works within Roman society, and Roman theatre’s legacy.

Music in Roman Comedy

The plays of Plautus and Terence were profoundly musical: large portions of all the plays were sung to accompaniment, and variations in melody, rhythm and dance were essential elements in bringing both pleasure and meaning to their performance. This book explains the nature of Roman comedy's music: the accompanying tibia, the style of vocal performance, the importance of dance, characteristics of melody, the relationship between meter and rhythm, and the effects of different meters and of variations within individual verses. It provides musical analyses of songs, scenes and whole plays, and draws analogies between Roman comedy's music and the music of modern opera, film and musical theatre. The book will change our understanding of the nature of Roman comedy and will be of interest to students of ancient theatre and Latin literature, scholars and students working on the history of music and theatre, and performers working with ancient plays.

The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation of 'the Betrayer's Gospel'

Lance Jenott presents a new critical edition, annotated translation, and interpretation of the Gospel of Judas which, for the first time, includes all extant fragments of the manuscript. Departing from the scholarly debate over how this second-century Gospel portrays the character of Judas Iscariot, he investigates the text's preoccupation with Jesus' Twelve Disciples, and why its author slanders them as immoral priests who unwittingly offer sacrifice to a false god. Jenott challenges previous interpretations of Judas as a Gnostic text that criticizes the sacrificial theology, Christology, and ritual practices of the orthodox church, including Eucharist and baptism. Instead, he emphasizes how its Christian author voices a political critique of the emerging clergy who established their ecclesiological authority through doctrines of apostolic succession and the exclusive right to administer the Eucharist. In the final chapter, Jenott leaves questions about the author's second-century Sitz im Leben behind to consider how Judas may have appealed to the fourth-century Coptic Christians who produced our only known copy.

A Roman Verse Satire Reader: Selections from Lucilius, Horace, Persius, and Juvenal

The trademark exuberance of Lucilius, gentleness of Horace, abrasiveness of Persius, and vehemence of Juvenal are the diverse satiric styles on display in this Reader. Witnesses to the spectacular growth of Rome’s political and military power, the expansion and diversification of its society, and the evolution of a wide spectrum of its literary genres, satirists provide an unparalleled window into Roman culture: from trials of the urban poor to the smarmy practices of legacy hunters, from musings on satire and the satirist to gruesome scenes from a gladiatorial contest, from a definition of virtue to the scandalous sexual display of wayward women. Provocative and entertaining, challenging and yet accessible, Roman verse satire is a motley dish stuffed to its readers’ delights.

Figuring Genre in Roman Satire

Horace, Persius, and Juvenal, the verse satirists of ancient Rome, developed a unique mode of social criticism by borrowing from their culture's existing methods of entertainment and moral judgment. Keane's analysis of the satiric genre reveals its debt to four key Roman practices: theater, public violence, legal process, and teaching.

The Theater of Plautus: Playing to the Audience

The relationship between actors and spectators has been of perennial interest to playwrights. The Roman playwright Plautus (ca. 200 BCE) was particularly adept at manipulating this relationship. Plautus allowed his actors to acknowledge freely the illusion in which they were taking part, to elicit laughter through humorous asides and monologues, and simultaneously to flatter and tease the spectators.

These metatheatrical techniques are the focus of Timothy J. Moore's innovative study of the comedies of Plautus. The first part of the book examines Plautus' techniques in detail, while the second part explores how he used them in the plays PseudolusAmphitruoCurculioTruculentusCasina, and Captivi. Moore shows that Plautus employed these dramatic devices not only to entertain his audience but also to satirize aspects of Roman society, such as shady business practices and extravagant spending on prostitutes, and to challenge his spectators' preconceptions about such issues as marriage and slavery. These findings forge new links between Roman comedy and the social and historical context of its performance.

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