Published March 29, 2016

National classics convention

Monmouth College to host 88th meeting of Eta Sigma Phi, April 1-3
  • Two students demonstrate ancient military customs in a staged battle. Similar demonstrations are scheduled to be part of the Eta Sigma Phi convention.
Monmouth College will host the 88th Annual Convention of Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics honorary society for undergraduates, April 1-3.

“This is the fourth time Monmouth has hosted the national convention,” said Tom Sienkewicz, Monmouth’s Minnie Billings Capron Professor of Classics. “The previous times were in 1983, 1992 and 2001. Marcene Holverson Farley (a 1984 Monmouth graduate), who served as the local chair of the 1983 meeting, will be in attendance.”

Approximately 80 delegates will attend the meeting, coming from a variety of colleges and universities, including the University of Michigan, Wake Forest University, the University of Arkansas, Temple University and the University of Arizona, as well as nearby schools such as Augustana College, Beloit College and the University of Illinois.

“This year’s program features a number of unique opportunities for classics students on our campus,” said Sienkewicz. “They will be able to see the Canopus Stone, the James Christie Shields Collection of Art and Antiquities and the Archaeology Lab.”

The guest speaker at the April 2 banquet will be Steve Perkins, a Latin teacher at West Central High School in Westfield, Ind. A former Latin student of Farley’s at Pekin (Ill.) High School, Perkins was named Indiana Teacher of the Year in 2014. He will speak at 8 p.m. in the Whiteman-McMillan Highlander Room of Stockdale Center.

Four students will present papers at the convention, and Monmouth’s Emma Vanderpool, a junior from Frankfort, Ill., is among them. The title of her paper is “Sights, Sounds and Smells of Animals in Martial’s ‘Epigrammata.’”

Four Monmouth alumni have been invited to campus to speak about how they used classics in their careers, including Neil Dahlstrom ’98, Richard Harrod ’07, Matthew Katsenes ’04 and Sylvia Shults ’90. They will speak on April 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

Other programs at the convention will include demonstrations on Greco-Roman costume and ancient military customs. The latter session will be led by Robert Holschuh Simmons, assistant professor of classics at Monmouth.

Eta Sigma Phi began in 1914 when a group of students at the University of Chicago organized an undergraduate classical club, to which honor students in Greek and Latin were elected to membership. The organization later united with a similar organization at Northwestern University and became Eta Sigma Phi. In 1924 the society became national, and chapters were organized at leading colleges and universities.

The archives of Eta Sigma Phi’s national organization reside in Monmouth College’s Hewes Library. A link to more information can be found at

In an era in which classical studies are increasingly disappearing from college catalogs, Monmouth celebrates them with one of the leading college classics programs in the nation. Headquarters of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Monmouth is also home to an archaeology research laboratory, an annual classics lecture and a national classics writing contest.
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