In a discussion of the concept of the “good slave” in her book Reconstructing the Slave: The Image of the Slave in Ancient Greece, Kelly Wrenhaven rightly argues that “representations of good slaves are as much a part of the rationalizing ideology of slavery as bad slaves, as both help to justify and reinforce the institution.” Examining enslaved nurses depicted on Athenian tombstones, Wrenhaven points out that, out of a total of 15 extant tombstones for nurses, nine include the word chreste. Other inscriptions further confirm the association between the adjective chrestos and enslavement. On a 4th-century tombstone from Thasos, a shepherd named Manes is described as chrestos tais despotais (“useful to his masters”). Enslaved people are also described with this adjective in Menander as well as in Greek tragedy.
By Javal Coleman | June 20, 2022
Dissertation Spotlight: Vicinitas in Urbe: Neighborliness and Urban Community in Mid-Republican Rome
By Jordan Rogers | February 7, 2022
In Plautus’s Mercator, the senex Demipho, the archetypal lecherous old man, attempts to justify to his son his purported decision not to purchase the puella Pasicompsa as a maid for their household. While the audience understands Demipho’s dissimulation — he will, as we know, purchase the girl to satiate his lascivious desires — the old man must trot out a believable excuse to the lovelorn adulescens, whose own parallel obsession with Pasicompsa motivates the plot of the play. Rather than appeal to expediency or even to economics, Demipho argues that the presence of the girl in their household would bring shame to the family and harm their reputation:
By Krishni Burns | October 11, 2021
In the Spring of 2021, as her undergraduate UIC Honors College Capstone project, my student Luana Davila adapted and produced a version of Plautus’ Casina in the style of a telenovela. Due to COVID, she was not able to stage the play, but she produced a filmed version in collaboration with theater students at Columbia College in Chicago. For safety reasons, each actor’s scenes were filmed separately, then edited together. Below is an interview with Luana and the play’s director, Amy Gerwert Valdez, a Theater Directing major at Columbia. [Editor’s note: the transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.]
Krishni Burns: Can we start with a description of your project?
By Serena Witzke | November 27, 2017
Ancient comedy was a thoroughly performative genre, meant to be seen and heard, not read. This point should be obvious, but it can easily get lost in a traditional college or university course on comedy in translation, given the textual nature of the transmission of comedies, their distance in time and culture, the difficulties presented by translated material, and the demands and traditions of teaching Greek and Roman literature generally. In this post I describe a comedy-in-performance assignment that T.H.M Gellar-Goad and I created and have used in teaching general-education courses at two different American universities. One of us employed it in lieu of the usual final exam and term paper; the other was bound by writing seminar standards to include a term paper in addition to the performance project.