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Classics department news

Barry McNamara
04/22/2010
Monmouth College recently celebrated Greek Week, a time to highlight the college’s outstanding sororities and fraternities.

It’s also been a Greek (and Roman) Week of sorts for another group on campus, as classics students have been busy with a variety of activities.

Members of the college’s Gamma Omicron chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics honorary society, recently attended the 82nd Annual National Convention, hosted by Virginia Tech University. Senior Robert Grafsgaard of Minntonka, Minn.; juniors John Callebert of Des Plaines and Derek Huff of Edmonds, Wash.; sophomores Katherine Bradshaw of Wichita, Kansas, and Anne Cave of Holts Summit, Mo.; and freshman Emily Morland of Galesburg were accompanied by faculty members Nick Dobson and Tom Sienkewicz.

The chapter received Eta Sigma Phi’s first Exelauno Day award. Derived from the Greek verb for “march forth,” Exelauno Day is annually celebrated in classics departments on March 4. Students are challenged to “march forth on March fourth” to promote the classics in their communities. Six members of the Gamma Omicron chapter “marched forth” to Monmouth’s Public Square in Monmouth, where they performed as street mimes representing mythological characters and historical figures from the ancient world.

Students in “Latin 102” at Monmouth also participated in another recent celebration, holding a 2,764th birthday party for Rome. The founding date of April 21, 753 B.C., was calculated by Marcus Terentius Varro. The correctness of his calculation has not been proved scientifically, but is still used worldwide.

The day before, the first recipient of the college’s newly-named prize for excellence in Latin was named. Grafsgaard received the honor, which is now named for Virginia K. Hellenga, who will retire at the end of this semester after teaching Latin at Monmouth for 15 years.

Looking ahead, the classics department will host Antonios Augoustakis, visiting professor of classics at the University of Illinois, on April 29. Augoustakis will present “Hrotsvita Reading Terence” at 7:30 p.m. in Room 114 in Wallace Hall.

Hrotsvita’s six plays are in direct dialogue with the six comedies of Terence. The 10th-century nun grafts the genre of comedy with hagiography and drama to christianize Terence’s language and themes. Among the plays discussed will be “Dulcitius” and “Sapientia.”

Augoustakis, who specializes in Latin Imperial epic, is the director of the Baylor in Italy program.