Robert Holschuh Simmons

Associate Professor and Chair, Classics

Rm 21 Wallace Hall 309-457-2378 View my resume


Who I am as a teacher and scholar is in large part a reflection of my own education in the liberal arts at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. There, I majored in classics and English and was inspired to pursue a doctorate, hoping to do for other undergraduates what my outstanding professors did for me.

St. John’s also inspired me to push my limits in other ways, personally, professionally and athletically. The strong emphasis on social justice at St. John’s led me to teach English and direct recreation as a LaSallian Volunteer at a reform school in Albany, New York, immediately out of college. Then I earned a master’s in teaching at Minnesota State-Mankato to continue my effort to reach students at formative levels. I parlayed that degree into three years of teaching English at Omaha (Nebraska) North High School.

But I continued to love classics, so when I decided to return to graduate school to pursue my doctorate it was in classics at the University of Iowa. Throughout my years in Albany, Omaha and Iowa City, I continued to be the well-rounded person that I had been encouraged to be at St. John’s, training diligently as a distance runner (I ran cross country and track in college), culminating in my qualification for and competition in the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials.

After completing my doctorate at Iowa, I taught for eight years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My goal all along, though, was to return to my roots in the liberal arts. I love being here at Monmouth.


My teaching and research interests, broadly, start with the ancient worlds of Greece, Rome and their neighbors. More narrowly, within that broad range, I focus on political, social and class conflict and evolutions; love and friendship; gender and sexuality; tragedy and comedy; epic; sports; outreach; and, of course, Greek and Latin languages.

These interests show up in all sorts of courses that I teach and research that I share. (See my list of courses taught and selected research for examples.) In whatever I research, teach and demonstrate to the public, I am keenly aware of what the ancient world communicates about the modern one, and of the perpetual importance of revealing the levels of contemporary significance that can be taken from studying different aspects of the classical world.


BA – Classics and English, St. John’s (Minnesota) University, 1993 MAT – English, Minnesota State University-Mankato, 1995 PhD – Classics, The University of Iowa, 2006

Courses Taught

GREK 101-102: Introductory Greek I-II

GREK 111-112: Introductory Biblical Greek I-II

GREK 200/300/400: Directed Readings in Greek (Homer; Sappho; Herodotus; Euripides; Plato; Spoken Greek)

LATN 101-102: Introductory Latin I-II

LATN 120: Intensive Latin Review

LATN 200/300/400: Directed Readings in Latin (Transitional; Plautus; Terence; Lucretius; Martial; Lucan; Petronius; Pliny; Suetonius; Eutropius; Vergil; Catullus; Cicero; Sallust; Caesar; Sulpicia; Spoken Latin)

CLAS/HIST 130: Ancient Society (Sports in Greece and Rome; Greeks and Barbarians: Greek Self-Identity against the Ancient Middle East)

CLAS 200: Introduction to Classical Studies

CLAS 201/301: Classics Seminar (Tyrants, Assassins, and Demagogues: Seizing Power in Ancient Greece; Greek Tragedy; The Drama of War: Athenian Tragedy and Comedy of the Peloponnesian War)

CLAS 210/310: Classical Literature (Love and Friendship in Greece and Rome; Roman Comedy Alive: The Roman Comic Theatre, Analyzed and Performed)

CLAS 230/330: Mythology (The Trojan War and Its Aftermath; Heroes and Heroines; Dionysus and Myth in Drama; Classical and World Mythology)

CLAS 235/335: Greek, Roman and Mediterranean History

CLAS/COMM 290: Classical Rhetoric in Greece; Classical Rhetoric in Italy (both team-taught with Lori Walters-Kramer)

CLAS 295: Classics Day Leadership

INTG 101: Introduction to Liberal Arts

INTG 202: World Drama

SOFIA projects: Ancient Technology and Engineering, assisted by Megan Dailey ’25; Inside Ancient Greek Athletics, assisted by Olivia Matlock ’22; “Friends” in High Places: Politicians Making Constituents Feel Like They’re Friends, From Ancient Athens to the Contemporary U.S., assisted by Steven Mastin ’17

College for Kids: Sports in Greece and Rome (for second- to eighth-graders)


Selected Work

2024 “Teaching the Techniques of the Ancient Olympic Pentathlon: Connecting the Ancient and Modern Worlds through Athletic Physicality.” Classical Outlook 99.2: 73-89.

2024 “A Classics Professor’s Guide to Mutually Beneficial Relationships with K-12 Latin Teachers.” Classical Outlook 99.1: 11-15. Part of a special issue titled “Reaching over the Divide: Perspectives from K-12, College, and University Classics Teaching.”

2023 Demagogues, Power, and Friendship in Classical Athens: Leaders as Friends in Aristophanes, Euripides, and Xenophon. London: Bloomsbury.

2022 Introduction and notes to Men and Their Horses: Aristophanes’ Knights, translated by Wilfred Major and Michael Lippman, with a foreword by Jeffrey Henderson. Fargo: Theran.

2019 “How Can We Save Latin in Our Public Schools?” (opens in a new tab) SCS Blog, September 12, 2019.

2018 “‘Men, Friends’: The Sociological Mechanics of Xenophontic Leaders Winning Subordinates as Friends.” In At the Crossroads of GrecoRoman History, Culture and Religion: Papers in Memory of Carin M. C. Green, edited by Sinclair Bell and Lora Holland, pp. 31-44. Oxford: Archaeopress.

2018 “Making Classics (Even More) Cool: Building a Thriving Classics Day at a University.” Classical Journal 113.3 (February/March): 335-362.

In progress: Class Warfare and the Athenian Theatre: Euripides, Aristophanes, and the Age of the Demagogues.

In progress: “‘As Women Might See It: Suggestions of Transgender Identity in the Bacchae’s Pentheus.”

In progress: “Making Classics (Even More) Cool, Part II: Building a Thriving Classics Day at a Liberal Arts College in a Small Town.”

Selected Honors and Awards

2024 Charles Humphreys Award for Innovative Pedagogy. American Classical League.

2024 W. Jerome Hatch Award for Distinguished Scholarship. Monmouth College.

2024 Ovatio Award, for outstanding service to CAMWS and to the field of Classics. Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

2024 Award for Outstanding Promotional Activity (for 2023 Eta Sigma Phi national meeting and Classics Day). Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

2024 Faculty-Undergraduate Collaborative Research Award, with Jeff Schnetzler ’25. Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

2023 W. Jerome Hatch Award for Distinguished Service. Monmouth College.

2023 Award for Excellence in College Teaching. Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

2022 Advisor Excellence Award. Highlander Leadership Awards. Monmouth College.

2022 Service Excellence Award (for the Classics Department’s activities throughout the 2021-22 school year, including Classics Day and Ciders with Classics). Highlander Leadership Awards. Monmouth College.

2022 Service and Outreach Award (for Monmouth’s Classics Day, Ciders with Classics, and external speakers/performers). Eta Sigma Phi (national undergraduate Classics honors society).

2020 SCS Outreach Prize (for my eight Classics Days and the 2018 Classics Week). Society for Classical Studies (SCS).

What I have always found compelling about Classics is that its subject matter is always completely present; while we may be formally talking about a distant time and place, the content, and the way we approach it, always reflects contemporary life and events.

– Robert Holschuh Simmons