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Sienkewicz to present Monmouth’s Fox Lecture on Hercules

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – For more than 30 years, classics professor Tom Sienkewicz directed Monmouth College’s Fox Lecture program, bringing to campus speakers who told how classics relates to the modern world and how it intersects with other liberal arts disciplines.

This year, the professor emeritus of classics who founded the lecture series has been given the “Herculean” task of presenting it.

Sienkewicz, who retired in 2017, will give the Fox Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Pattee Auditorium of the Center for Science and Business. Titled “Hercules Politicus in Art: The Mythic Hero as Political Role Model from Alexander the Great to Vladimir Putin,” the talk is free and open to the public.

Sienkewicz’s broad historical survey will include how Roman emperors, Medici rulers, U.S. presidents and other prominent figures identified with and were connected to Hercules in such media as coins, painting, sculpture and editorial cartoons. The examples will be analyzed and the associations with Hercules explained.

The lecture series honors the late Bernice L. Fox, who taught English, Latin and Greek at Monmouth from 1947-81.

“When I came to the College (in 1984), I thought it was very important for Bernice to feel recognized, but also it would be good for the classics program to have a major lecture every year,” said Sienkewicz, who served as the Minnie Billings Capron Professor of Classics. “Bernice was a really remarkable woman. Monmouth College, in many ways, was her life. She had a cadre on students who really appreciated what she did for them.”

Fox gave the inaugural lecture in 1985, and for many subsequent years, Sienkewicz invited her former students and colleagues to be the featured speaker.

“It created a really nice tie between the College and its alumni,” said Sienkewicz. “I think I’m the last person alive who hasn’t given the lecture who knew Bernice and was her friend.”

From 1984-2007, Sienkewicz offered a full classics program essentially single-handedly and designed a unique, award-winning Triad curriculum. He is also the author of books and articles on the classical world, including Disce! An Elementary Latin Course with Kenneth Kitchell and Vergil: A Legamus Transitional Reader with the late LeaAnn Osburn ’72.

Sienkewicz has served as president of the Illinois Classical Conference, vice president of the American Classical League and executive secretary of Eta Sigma Phi. He is currently secretary-treasurer of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South and business manager of The Classical Journal. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Illinois Classical Conference and Eta Sigma Phi.