Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Interchange of Plain Velar and Aspirate in Kronos/Chronos: A Case for Etymological Equivalence

    Author:
    Roberto Bongiovanni
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Tamara Green
    Abstract:

    Despite the current state of uncertainty regarding the etymology of Kronos, the equivalence long familiar to the ancients between Kronos and Chronos is still a moot point. Arguments denying their etymological equivalence can no longer firmly rely on linguistic arguments. It is therefore necessary to examine the validity of the time-honored interpretation of Kronos as the personification of Time. The solution to this problem is of considerable importance to Classical studies, since it will not so much as contribute to a better understanding of the myth of Kronos, as the interpretation of Kronos as Time is already familiar from ancient sources, but it will demand a rereading of Hesiod's Theogony to account for the possible relation of its myth and symbols to comparable myths and symbols of the transitioning ages of the world and consequent calendrical corrections.

  • Mensura Incognita: Queer Kinship, Camp Aesthetics, and Juvenal's Ninth Satire

    Author:
    Michael Broder
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Craig Williams
    Abstract:

    The dissertation addresses four problematic aspects of scholarship on Juvenal 9. The first two are matters of reception history: first, the poem has been understudied; and second, most major extant studies of the poem have been grossly or subtly homophobic. The other two problems are matters of literary criticism: Juvenal's ninth satire has traditionally been read as an attack on homosexuality, when in fact it is neither an attack, nor is it about homosexuality. The current study addresses each of these problems, reassessing the ninth satire in the context of queer theory and camp aesthetics. Chapter One traces the homophobic tendencies in the modern reception of Juvenal 9 across reception modalities including expurgation, biographical criticism, and persona theory. Chapter Two reviews relevant concepts in queer theory and the discourse of camp. Queer theory emphasizes the performative dimensions of sex, gender, and kinship. Camp is a counter-normative discourse in which incongruous situations and juxtapositions are presented in a theatrical manner for humorous effect, expressing the relationship of sex, gender, and kinship deviants to dominant discourses of normativity and embracing the stigmatized identity of the deviant, marginalized other. Chapter Three reviews the debate over Juvenal's moralism among scholars of satire beginning in the 1960s. This debate serves as an unwitting proxy for a debate about camp aesthetics by emphasizing the role of perverse wit in articulating a moral satiric vision. Chapter Four offers a close, detailed reading of Juvenal's ninth satire within the framework of queer theory and camp aesthetics laid out in previous chapters. The reading identifies instances of camp incongruity, theatricality, and humor, the embrace of stigmatized identity, and the expression of solidarity with the deviant. Particular emphases are the parody of social and cultural institutions such as marriage and patronage; literary genres such as epic, elegy, and declamation; and literary motifs such as servitium amoris, militia amoris, and exclusus amator, among others. A Conclusion recaps and extends some of the major contentions of the study and indicates directions for further research. Finally, an Appendix provides an original translation of Juvenal's ninth satire.

  • MEMORY AND MODERATION: THE IMPERIAL IMAGE OF AUGUSTUS AND ITS PERCEPTION AMONG LATER AUTHORS

    Author:
    Frank Cretella
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Joel Allen
    Abstract:

    Aware of the Roman people's weariness following decades of civil war, Augustus founded the Principate on the notion that the traditions of the Republic had been restored and that Augustus was not a monarch but an ordinary citizen serving his nation. This modest image of the emperor was characterized by his ceremonial refusal of honors and offices and his preservation of the Senate's dignity. However, the purpose of this thesis is not simply to examine the modest image of the emperor but rather to provide a detailed study of the memory of Augustus' moderation in the works of later authors. The first chapter will discuss Augustus' documentation of his moderate deeds in the Res Gestae and his attempt to preserve his legacy and provide an example for his successors to imitate. Similar depictions of his modesty are represented on coins and Augustan monuments such as the Ara Pacis Augustae and the so-called Laudatio Turiae. Lastly, this chapter will examine the poetic recusationes of Horace, Propertius, and Ovid as evidence of their skepticism regarding the sincerity of Augustus' political refusals. The second chapter will examine Pliny the Younger's political career under the tyrannical reign of Domitian and his praise of Trajan's moderation in the Panegyricus. Pliny exhibits signs of insincerity in his panegyric that resemble the methods of doublespeak used earlier by Horace, Ovid, and Statius. Pliny's false praise of Trajan's moderation reflects his suspicion of the Principate as a whole. The third chapter will discuss Tacitus' relationship with Agricola and his career under Domitian. Like Pliny, Tacitus is skeptical of imperial moderation but is more explicit in his condemnation. He criticizes the Principate for its feigned moderation and its capacity for cruelty. Tacitus attributes these problems of the Principate to its founder Augustus while criticizing his false modesty with a literary recusatio. The fourth chapter will discuss Suetonius' career as an imperial secretary under Trajan and its impact on his work. Suetonius enjoyed a post-Domitianic career and did not witness the same atrocities as Pliny and Tacitus. Thus, Suetonius lacked the impetus to convey the moderation of Augustus and the Principate in a negative light. Suetonius' negative depiction of Octavian might imply a perceived insincerity in the moderation of Augustus. However, it is evident from Suetonius' account that he is more concerned with his continuous display of moderation as emperor, which serves as a model for his successors. The fifth and last chapter will discuss Cassius Dio's career during the reigns of Commodus and the Severan dynasty. Like Pliny and Tacitus, Dio witnessed many atrocities committed by emperors. However, Dio seeks to remedy present ills by invoking Augustus' moderation as precedent for present and future emperors. While Dio explicitly recognizes that this modest image is false, he prefers the pretense of moderation over the open cruelty of a tyrant. This thesis will show that the moderate image that Augustus created was not a static representation of the emperor. Later authors manipulated the image of the emperor according to their own ideological goals. Augustus was no longer a man but an idea that could be invoked for praise or criticism of one's present circumstances.

  • Roman Tragedy and Medicine: Language and Imagery of Illness in Seneca and Celsus

    Author:
    Michael Goyette
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Craig Williams
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes the language and imagery of illness in selected tragedies and, to a lesser extent, the philosophical prose of the first-century CE Roman tragic poet and philosopher Seneca, reading these works with and against De Medicina, a nearly contemporary encyclopedic Latin prose text on medical theory and practice by the Roman encyclopediast Celsus. Inspired by previous studies of classical Greek tragedy together with the largely contemporary body of Greek prose writings on medicine known as the Hippocratic Corpus, my dissertation moves the discussion to Latin literature and is the first extended study to do so. I aim not only to provide insight into Seneca's and Celsus' writings, with particular attention to the question of vocabulary usage, but also to show how a shared language of human illness can inform a range of textual genres in Greco-Roman antiquity, from the prose literature of knowledge to philosophy to mythological poetry. I demonstrate that reading Senecan tragedy in tandem with Celsus' prose encyclopedia on medicine can shed light upon how illness functions as a prominent although previously overlooked theme in Seneca's plays. At the same time, my comparisons provide insight into vocabulary usage and rhetorical strategies in Celsus' De Medicina. My project examines both "physical" and "mental" forms of illness, calling into question the linguistic and conceptual boundaries between such categories as they are explored in the works of Seneca and Celsus, and as they relate to Roman medicine more generally. My readings are sensitive to cultural and historical differences, encouraging re-examination of modern ideas and assumptions about illness, health, and other aspects of medicine; my project thus makes a key contribution to the developing field of medical humanities.

  • Senecan Tragedy and Virgil's Aeneid: Repetition and Reversal

    Author:
    Timothy Hanford
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Ronnie Ancona
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the relationship between Senecan tragedy and Virgil's Aeneid, both on close linguistic as well as larger thematic levels. Senecan tragic characters and choruses often echo the language of Virgil's epic in provocative ways; these constitute a contrastive reworking of the original Virgilian contents and context, one that has not to date been fully considered by scholars. This study is organized according to three main themes that are argued to have strong intertextual aspects: repetition of the past, victor and vanquished, and maius nefas, or greater crime. In each case Seneca tragicus is seen to take a theme present in the Aeneid and give it new life, in the process questioning or undermining some of the assumptions, political, philosophical, and otherwise, that underlie Virgil's epic program. This project focuses on the two Trojan War plays of Seneca, the Troades and Agamemnon, as well as on his Medea. Consideration of the intertextual dialogue between Senecan tragedy and Virgil's Aeneid helps enlighten the nature of Senecan tragedy, Virgilian epic, and the process of aemulatio in Latin poetry in general.

  • Ovid's Pentheus: An In-Depth Guide for Students and Teachers to a King's Anger and Fiery Oration

    Author:
    Benjamin Joffe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Philip Thibodeau
    Abstract:

    Born out of my years of using traditional commentaries for Latin and Greek texts, both for myself as a student learning the language anew and then as a teacher sharing my experience with others &mdash and still learning the language years later &mdash this in&ndashdepth guide to Ovid's version of the story of Pentheus I have conceived as a reimagining of the genre, at once a vehicle designed to allow students to navigate their own ways through the literature and also a tool for building their analytical skills to apply liberally, earnestly, and enthusiastically to other Latin and Greek texts, and really to any piece of writing, art, or other form of expression. Here in Vol. 1, my own exploration of the text brought me to notice a striking parallel between Pentheus' speech to the Thebans that dominates the first seventy&ndashodd lines of Ovid's telling of the myth and the guidelines to oration in general put forth by the Rhetorica ad Herrenium, a text that predates the Metamorphoses by enough time for Ovid to have read it and to have been influenced by its handy approach. I share the details of that observation later in the book, so as to allow other readers to engage with the text on their own first. Additionally, years of reading, rereading, writing about and discussing with others Ovid's beleaguered main character have allowed me to form a relationship with the mythical Pentheus, and so in this volume and in the two to come, I invite my readers to empathize with him, to understand his anger, and to allow him the space to be upset at the arrival of Bacchus at Thebes. In this way, when we can join him in his experience, his lamentable fate truly can become a tragedy.

  • Plutarch's Fortune: A Close Reading

    Author:
    Hannah Lansky
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Peter Simpson
    Abstract:

    Plutarch's Fortune has been ignored, if not dismissed, as a work of little or no importance. Certainly, there has been no in depth critical treatment of it in the current century or the twentieth century. To be sure, it seems an expression of superficial ideas. A closer reading, however, reveals a dense text which alludes or refers to numerous sources and literary genres, including philosophy, tragedy, lyric, comedy and oratory. Plutarch creates a subtle and complex fabric of association, which does not create a clear enough pattern to suggest his purpose in writing the work. Possible clues toward an understanding of such a work as this one appears to be, are provided by Leo Strauss, Eduard Zeller, William Thomas, and John Toland, authors of the twentieth, nineteenth, and eighteenth centuries, as well as Cicero, Gellius and Plutarch, in antiquity. They describe a technique used by ancient writers which presented a superficial, exoteric teaching for the casual reader, while a more sophisticated reader would discern a deeper, esoteric teaching. As Plutarch's opusculum demonstrates a number of the signs of such writing, it is possible that he has employed such a technique of obscure writing. This dissertation begins with an introductory chapter which outlines brief biographical details for Plutarch and the basic problems in studying the figure of Tyche, a description of the existing editions and previous treatments of the work, and introduces the problem of obscure writing as a possible approach to this essay of Plutarch. The complete text is presented in a commentary, which explores the references found throughout the essay and questions apparent discrepancies. The concluding chapter adds another aspect of the process of writing secretly, that of reading related works of different authors together to learn more of the underlying message. A short comparison between Plutarch and his contemporary, Favorinus, is presented. No firm conclusions have been drawn here, about the content of the inner teaching, but the project is intended as a foundation for further work.

  • Ktiseis/Aitia in Various Ancient Greek Prose Authors

    Author:
    Paul McBreen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Jacob Stern
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I focus on "ktiseis," Greek prose narratives about the founding of cities and the city founders. Also, I discuss "aitia," stories about causes, origins, and originators of various cultural customs, religious practices and even verbal expressions. I conclude eventually that these narratives served a purpose in creating unity among people who shared a language and, to use broad terms for now, a culture and history, and geographical territory they claimed as their own. I typically refer to these narratives together as ktiseis/aitia, because my research into the composition technique itself of these Greek prose narratives suggests that the narratives were composed with the assistance of a familiar schema, a regularly used template, uniform in its composition, that assisted researchers who were studying texts in order to compose their own versions of narratives. With the assistance of Carol Dougherty's research, I have developed my Foundation and Etiology Narrative Schema (the Schema), the familiar template which I suggest forms the basis of ktiseis/aitia and other remembrance-based narratives. I describe the Schema thoroughly in the second chapter of this dissertation, especially as it appears in the mythographer Conon. The Schema assists in forming and cultivating relationships among peoples whose stories and histories are topics of these Greek narratives. These stories share such a familiar template that the people whose homelands and cultural identities are reflected and explained via the narratives become interconnected. This unity through mythical/historical narratives I develop throughout Chapter One. Chapter 3 explores the elements of the Schema both individually and in connection with one another. Thematic pairs and sequences of items are crucial to the efficacy of the Schema. The way in which the elements of the narrative structure combine to make meaning recalls Hayden White's discussion of literary tropes. The final chapter examines the Schema in a variety of prose authors to illuminate both its wide use and its centrality in remembrance-based narratives.

  • Who Stole the Daedalen Statue? Mythographic Humor in Ancient Greek Comedy

    Author:
    Alan Sumler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Joel Lidov
    Abstract:

    Abstract Who Stole the Daedalean Statue? Mythographic Humor in Ancient Greek Comedy by Alan Grau Sumler The following work adds another topic to the analysis of ancient Greek comedy. I cite excerpts from Aristophanes, Menander, ancient Greek comic fragments. I cover examples which contain mythological material. I compare them to ancient historiographic, philosophic, and mythographic approaches used by writers such as Hecataeus, Empedocles, Prodicus, Paleaphatus, Euhemerus, Heraclitus the Paradoxographer, and other writers. I am looking for instances of myth criticism, myth rationalization, and myth allegory in the comic material. My research adds another item to the list of ancient comic approaches and shows the prevalence of rationalism in ancient Greek world. Regardless of time period (Old, Middle, New) ancient Greek comedy contained a variety of mythological references. When isolating all fragments with themes of myth criticism, rationalization and allegory, some observations can be made about each particular comic approach to myth. Myth rationalization was another approach for the comic poets to employ and parody. Scholars have touched upon this topic, but have not treated it in full. According to them the few examples of comic mythological rationalization are found in Middle and New Comedy. Scholars have not designated this trend in ancient Greek Comedy. I will show that ancient Greek comedy as a whole had the tendency to rationalize myths. Mythographic humor was part of comedy from its inception.

  • Leonidas of Tarentum: A Wandering Poet in the Tradition of Greek Literature

    Author:
    Alissa Vaillancourt
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Classics
    Advisor:
    Dee Clayman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the poetry of Leonidas of Tarentum, a Greek epigrammatist from the first half of the third century BC. The study concentrates on the theme of wandering and his stylistic technique of to oligon, or meager, everyday subject matter, that is described in high language with elaborate diction and literary allusion, with reference to Homeric texts in particular. The project demonstrates how these themes provide coordination among his epigrams. Since his epigrams are preserved in the Greek Anthology, which is a combination of a number of anthologies from the first century BC through the sixteenth century CE, many scholars have doubted the possibility of a Leonidean, self-authored and autonomous collection. I argue that, through thematic coordination and a system of pairing, the collection proves to have once been an epigram book, comparable to the recently discovered epigram book attributed to Posidippus, also an author of the third century BC. This study reevaluates Leonidas' epigrams as part of their own autonomous collection, a collection that will be shown to have played an important role in the development of the genre of Hellenistic epigram and in the tradition of Greek literature.