Classics Program

Classics Students at SU Student Works Symposium

Advanced Classics students Trey Frye (‘12), Georgia LoSchiavo (‘12), and Jenna Gaska (‘13) were on the program at the 13th annual SU Student Works Symposium

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    Jenna Gaska
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    Georgia LoSchiavo
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    Trey Frye

April 03, 2012

Three advanced Classics students were on the program of the 13th annual Student Works Symposium. Trey Frye (‘12) paper was on the philosophical position of St. Justin Martyr, Georgia LoSchiavo (‘12) presented her recrystallization of the Antigone myth, and Jenna Gaska (‘13) discussed Catullus’ articulation of late Roman Republic anxiety.

Frye and LoSchiavo will present versions of their presentations at a national conference at the Sunoikisis Undergraduate Research Seminar in Washington later this month.

The topics and abstracts are as follows:

Jenna Gaska, “The Self-Castration of Attis in Catullus 63: An Analogy for Roman Anxiety During the Late Republic.”

The poem Catullus 63 describes the self-castration of a Greek youth named Attis in supposed worship of the goddess Cybele. The cult of Cybele had a long and colorful history; beginning with its arrival in Rome in 204 B.C. Writing during the period of the late Republic, Catullus utilizes his audience’s familiarity with this cult to provide the context for a sexually violent act that had deep-rooted implications about one’s identity and status in both Roman and Greek society. As a young Greek youth, Attis had enjoyed a glorified sexual role as the passive partner amongst the older, elite males of his society. Yet as he prepares to become a full-fledged male of the upper classes, he is expected to step into a different, societal demanded role as the active partner. The madness that causes him to castrate himself is driven by an underlying anxiety concerning the uncertainty of his future. Like Attis, the Romans of the late Republic found themselves on the cusp of a transition both unpredictable and alien to their previous experiences. As the stability of the state and its political traditions crumbled, elite Romans were faced with an identity crisis of their own. Attis’ transition into adulthood thus evokes the madness created by the anxiety of change, a madness only compounded by desperate actions, the madness of the late Republic.

Georgia LoSchiavo, “Antigone Re-Crystallized: Ancient Myth in Modern Times.”

Ms. LoSchiavo has found interesting material in the crystallization of myths, as discussed by Walter Burkert. During studio art courses, along with a personal study of graphic art, she has identified that the graphic novel was an art form well-suited to re-crystallization, particularly for ancient plays that now, rarely performed, have lost their visual impact. The Antigone presented itself as an especially interesting play from which to approach an experiment, due to its range of Greek cultural mores that are challenging to translate into concepts accessible to a modern audience. Ms. LoSchiavo will be adapting the play into a 23 page comic, translating key scenes herself and researching scholarship for the overall meaning. She will consider the process of re-crystallization and the process of visual translation of Greek cultural values into a current medium and for a modern audience. She will present three pages: Antigone mourning Polynices, Haemon’s initial praise of Creon, and Antigone and Haemon in the bridal chamber/tomb. For each, Ms. LoSchiavo will briefly discuss scholarship on the overarching theme of the scene, and her choices in how to interpret those themes within the medium to bring forth a story that is accurate to the original, while still appealing to a modern audience. For example, while a modern audience could simply interpret Haemon as a coward for deferring to his father, an exploration of the culture behind his actions renders him a much more complicated and interesting character (H. Foley, Female Acts in Greek Tragedy).

Trey Frye, “St. Justin and the Graeco-Roman World: An Analysis of Justin’s Presentation of Christianity as the Fulfillment of Graeco-Roman Tradition.”

In the second century AD, Christianity faced attacks from the Graeco-Roman world because the Romans viewed the Christian religion as a threat to philosophical traditions which formed the foundation of their society. Our evidence suggests that most early Christians did not respond to or answer specific charges, but St. Justin the Martyr, the first Christian philosopher, openly dealt with these accusations throughout his writings. Mr. Frye will focus on how Justin presents Christianity as a way of life within which is the fulfillment of Graeco-Roman traditions. For example, Justin attempts to argue throughout his work that specific philosophers who rejected traditional paganism were actually Christians who lived before Christ because they lived by reason (I Apology 46). Conclusions from this analysis will be placed within the broader context of Graeco-Roman Christians’ perceptions of their relation to the traditions of the Graeco-Roman world.

Papers on other topics delivered by Classics students include Katlyn Hoover (Latin IV student), “A Comparative Analysis of the United States and Danish Healthcare Systems;” and Elizabeth Marzec  (Med. Legends/Troy class), “Swapping Frog Legs for Fries: Identity, Food, and Globalization in Toulouse, France.”