The Writing on the Walls: Reading the Sexual Passivity of the Women of Herculaneum

1§1 Ancient graffiti– drawings and text inscribed onto the face of a wall– are increasingly acknowledged as valuable sources for studying the daily lives of the ancients. Unlike monumental inscriptions or political programmata, graffiti are imbued with immediacy and do not require an intermediary writer to convey a person’s sentiments. For these reasons, graffiti offer … Read moreThe Writing on the Walls: Reading the Sexual Passivity of the Women of Herculaneum

Dead Dramatists Society

1§1 In his cycle of five epigrams on dramatic poets, Dioscorides assembles a “dead dramatists society” whose curious and unprecedented inclusion of both archaic and contemporaneous figures—Thespis, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Sositheus, and Machon—has fascinated modern scholars of Hellenistic literature. In recent studies on Hellenistic epigram and Alexandrian stylistics, this unusual series has attracted a number of … Read moreDead Dramatists Society

Idealized and Barbarous Rome: Militarism in Tacitus’ Germania

Introduction[1] 1§1 Tacitus reexamines Roman stereotypes about the Germanic tribes in his ethnographical work, Germania. The Romans considered the German tribes a primitive and savage people, like many of the other peoples Rome has thrust its conquering might at, yet distinguishable for their military prowess. Tacitus, throughout the course of his Germania, seamlessly works through … Read moreIdealized and Barbarous Rome: Militarism in Tacitus’ Germania

The Clemency and Cruelty of Tiberius in Tacitus’ Annals

1§1 Prior to Augustus’ reign, sovereignty and influence were largely distributed throughout the offices of the cursus honorum, Senate, and the Curiate, Centuriate, Plebeian, and Tribal Assemblies.[1] This served as a system of checks and balances and kept power from accumulating under a single man’s auspices. The Principate, however, was subjugated by one individual, or … Read moreThe Clemency and Cruelty of Tiberius in Tacitus’ Annals

The Threatening Pardon: Moderation, Mercy, and Cruelty in the Political Writings of Machiavelli and Seneca

1§1 Mercy and cruelty are opposing forces often found within one’s character. Their Roman counterparts clementia and crudelitas are held in a similar view albeit a different context. Seneca writes at length on both specifically in his De Clementia and De Ira. He argues that through clemency one holds himself in moderation leading to careful … Read moreThe Threatening Pardon: Moderation, Mercy, and Cruelty in the Political Writings of Machiavelli and Seneca

The Tragic Burp: Satire in Seneca’s Thyestes

1§1 The climactic feast in Seneca’s Thyestes is described to the audience by the character Atreus in lines 908–919. As he gazes upon his brother Thyestes gobbling down a sumptuous meal made from the meat of Thyestes’ own children, Atreus puts the scene in words: aperta multa tecta conlucent face. resupinus ipse purpurae atque auro … Read moreThe Tragic Burp: Satire in Seneca’s Thyestes

Liar, Liar, Rome on Fire! Seneca’s Philosophy of Deception

Introduction 1§1 In our surviving accounts of the Neronian period (AD 54-AD 68), we find a Rome brimming with deception in the highest political offices.  The Roman historian Suetonius, among his many accounts of the Emperor Nero’s deceptions, describes Nero’s pastime of dressing up as a commoner and secretly creating mischief throughout the city of … Read moreLiar, Liar, Rome on Fire! Seneca’s Philosophy of Deception

Gettin’ Jiggy With It: Writing Sex in the Philomela’s Daughter Episode of the Satyrica

Trigger Warning: The following text contains explicit material regarding sexual assault and pedophilia that may be triggering to survivors.     1§1 A moment of particular interest in Petronius’ Satyrica is the story of Philomela’s daughter, in which the crafty pederast Eumolpus attempts to gain sexual access to Philomela’s children by posing as a very … Read moreGettin’ Jiggy With It: Writing Sex in the Philomela’s Daughter Episode of the Satyrica

“Uelocitate pensant moram”: Rhetoric and Intertextuality in Seneca’s Natural Questions 3–4a

1§1 A study of Seneca’s rhetoric needs no apology. He has been called one of the “greatest writers of Latin prose in [his] (or perhaps any) period.”[1] The influence of his father, our source for the controversiae and suasoriae—practice speeches composed for the training of politicians and lawyers during the late Republic and early Empire­­—coupled … Read more“Uelocitate pensant moram”: Rhetoric and Intertextuality in Seneca’s Natural Questions 3–4a