Amphora Articles

by  Erich Gruen

What put me on the path to Classics? No single event, no flash of lightning, no sudden illumination. Nor was it a gradual move, an increasing affection for a subject that slowly grew on me as I matured, a route that became more distinct and compelling as years passed. It is easy to construct such a smooth course toward an inevitable outcome in retrospect. But that is not how it happened.

Like so many others, I was exposed as a child to the myths and legends of ancient gods and heroes. But the pretty stories, however entertaining and diverting, had no lasting effect. At least not consciously (I can’t speak for the sub-conscious). I did study Latin for six years in Middle School (we called it junior high in those days) and High School - - but not for any admirable reason. Taking Latin meant that one could appear to be among the intellectual elite at school, and superior to the hoi polloi. Hardly a laudable motive, and certainly not one that pointed to a future career. I did enjoy the good fortune (not that I welcomed it then) of having a stern and rigorous teacher who put students thoroughly through their paces- - and also thoroughly terrified them. Nothing was more crushing than to have Mrs. Cantrell say “Erich, will you translate this passage,” and then, after offering some inadequate rendition, to hear her say, “Mary, would you translate that same passage.” I managed to survive with some lasting scars, but never dreamed that I would look at another Latin text again.

When I entered Columbia University as an undergraduate, I had no clear academic direction. But I had definitely come to the right place. Columbia had just instituted a new, experimental system for undergraduates. They eliminated the requirement of declaring a major.  The idea was to present a smorgasbord of offerings and let students pick and choose whatever they liked. (There was, to be sure, a common core in the first two years, in which Columbia was a pioneer and which, in essence, remains to this day. And a “breadth requirement.” But there was no need to specialize). The only limitation imposed was that of a certain number of advanced courses in whatever areas the student selected - - to assure that one did not take only elementary courses in every discipline for four years. Those were what some administrator brilliantly termed “maturity credits.” In any case, it was tailor-made for someone like me who had no desire to specialize and who reveled in taking courses all over the map. Or not altogether all over the map. I gave science and math a wide berth. But I enrolled in whatever would fit on the program in History, English, Classics, Philosophy, Political Science, and Art History. I should note in passing that, after I graduated, Columbia terminated that experiment. Whether my exploitation of the system helped to speed that decision I cannot say.

View full article. | Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 10:10pm by Wells Hansen.

by Dr. Ellen Bauerle

After five years seeing the ebb and flow of classical practitioners’ thoughts about outreach, it’s time for me to step down as editor of Amphora.  I have very much enjoyed working with the many members of the Amphora editorial board – I’ve made some good new friends, learned about a lot of things going on in the international ferment we call classical studies – and made new discoveries about current pedagogical trends.  In the last five years Amphora  has moved from an all-print publication format, then to print + website, and now to website-only:  I am sure there will be additional developments upcoming as Amphora continues to change and adapt.

It’s hard to say goodbye, but I am delighted to announce that Dr. Wells Hansen, who has been my efficient and hard-working assistant editor, is taking over as editor of Amphora, effective with the next issue.  Wells and I are together putting the current issue to bed, but as incoming editor he will be taking over management of queries and peer review for prospective authors, guidance of the general direction of the publication, interface with several new SCS committees, and other tasks that fall to the publication’s editor particularly as the Society’s web page develops and changes.  The SCS has now made available dedicated addresses for the Amphora editors, meaning you can reach Wells at

I would very much like to thank those who have made the recent years’ issues of Amphora possible – the authors, the unsung anonymous referees of articles, the many members of the editorial board, and last but not least my immediate past predecessor Davina McClain, Mary-Kay Gamel as Vice President for Outreach, Adam Blistein as Executive Director of the APA/SCS, and specially helpful board members Ward Briggs and Judith Hallett, all of whom collectively provided information on APA practices, requirements, the history and goals of relevant committees, and many of the big-picture questions that an outreach program faces.  I am indebted to all of them, and I look for a bright future for Amphora in Wells’ hands.

View full article. | Posted on Friday, February 2, 2018 - 9:26pm by Wells Hansen.

by Ronnie Ancona

Since my original article (see below) about Carl Sesar’s (then out of print) Catullus, many people have asked me whether the book is back in print. The very good news is that it has indeed been available, with some revisions, from Sesar’s own One Shot Press since 2013. He would be happy to answer questions about this publication via email ( or snail mail (Carl Sesar, One Shot Press, 7 Bardwell St., Florence, MA 01062).


by Ronnie Ancona

In 1974, Selected Poems of Catullus, a translation by Carl Sesar unique for its ability to capture Catullus’ poetic voice in colloquial English, was published by Mason & Lipscomb, New York; it had Latin text on one side and English on the facing page, with line drawings by Arlene Dubanevich and an Afterword by David Konstan. Then suddenly the publisher went out of business. The book did not exactly disappear (it can be found in public libraries and many college and university libraries), but, unfortunately, it has been “lost” to much of the general public, as well as to many, if not most, professional classicists. Although it appeared to extremely positive critical acclaim in the popular press and among distinguished writers and translators, it was never reviewed in a classics journal, to the best of my knowledge. I hope that by calling attention to this half-forgotten translation, both classicists and the reading public, more generally, will return to reading it and a press will consider its republication.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, December 23, 2017 - 2:27am by Wells Hansen.

If you’re new to academic conferences, or to the joint annual meeting of the SCS/AIA, you may be thinking that the Exhibit Hall is mostly for buying books. And if you’re at the start of your career and/or on a modest budget, you may think that there’s nothing for you in the Exhibit Hall as a result.  Au contraire!  Here’s a short list of things you can do there—completely aside from buying books—that can be beneficial to your career, fun, interesting, worthwhile, and generally good things to do. The Exhibit Hall is generally open about nine hours a day for the two full days of the conference, plus a half day on either side, so there’s plenty of time to try these in small bits.  As a press exhibitor myself (full disclosure) I spend many hours in the hall, so I have a chance to see the variety of exhibitors who transport their materials or goods or information to the conference, often from international origins, in hopes they’ll have an opportunity to talk with you.

One set of possible activities relates to developing your own publications, whether long or short.  Odds are you’ll need to write at least one book in your career, plus a number of articles and book reviews. You may find yourself editing a volume of essays written by others, or involved in an honorary volume (maybe a festschrift, or a volume honoring a campus event, or perhaps documenting a campus collection of antiquities).  Examining the journal and book offerings in the Exhibit Hall at this or other academic conferences is a real step forward in terms of developing your own scholarship in those different categories.

View full article. | Posted on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 - 10:49am by Ellen Bauerle.
Medieval Imagery

by Ellen Bauerle

This spring I was fortunate to hear an interesting panel discussion—stand-up-and-take-notice interesting—at the Medieval Academy of America’s annual meeting, hosted by Notre Dame University. The panelists’ observations seemed to me relevant to the SCS both as demonstrating additional kinds of outreach but more importantly as discussing the peculiar period higher education now finds itself in, and what might be done about that at every level, from junior scholar to dean.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 12:01pm by Ellen Bauerle.

by David Potter

On May 2, 2015, two men boxed for thirty-six minutes, and each made an enormous amount of money, splitting a record purse of $300 million. Fans may not have seen the greatest fight of all time, or anything close to it, but they did get to boo the winner, Floyd Mayweather, when he strutted around the ring after he was awarded the unanimous decision. The political ambitions of the loser, Manny Pacquiao, do not seem to have been damaged by his defeat. There are already rumors of a rematch. Tiberius Caesar would have been appalled.

On May 27, 2015, a series of indictments was issued against leaders of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for a wide range of corrupt activities in connection with the world’s most widely viewed sporting event, the World Cup. The modern notion that major sports organizations should claim to be self-policing and effectively free of governmental oversight—a privilege also asserted by, for instance, professional sports leagues in the United States and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—descends from the early days of these institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Claudius Caesar would have been astounded.

Tiberius Caesar rarely gets much credit for innovative thought, yet he is the first person who sought to restrain runaway spending on sport. He set limits on the cost of public spectacle—gladiatorial combat to be specific—and faced the question of what might be reasonable public expenditure on sports. Claudius likewise gets little credit for creativity, but it seems to have been in his reign that imperial regulation of independent athletic associations became the order of the day. Although dossiers of imperial letters that have come down to us on papyrus refer to earlier grants of privileges from the Augustan era, the dossiers begin with a letter of Claudius.

The half-century before Tiberius took the throne as sole emperor in 14 CE was a period of extraordinary experimentation in public entertainment. Mime, with male and female performers, was becoming an increasingly important genre; women had started appearing as gladiators; new mythological dance routines—pantomime—had become amazingly popular; professional Greek athletics were increasingly interesting to Roman audiences; and there were now occasional aquatic spectacles. In summing up the events connected with the opening of Rome’s first permanent theater in 55 BCE, Cicero remarked that everything Pompey had to offer, people had seen before (Ad fam. 7.1). This may have been something of an exaggeration—an elephant massacre on the last day had been as novel as it was ill-advised—but the point remained that the aspiring autocrat needed to show some originality. Augustus had been determined not to make Pompey’s mistake.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 11:58am by Ellen Bauerle.

Elsewhere in this issue, in his article titled The Metal Age, Kris Fletcher discusses the relationship between classical studies and heavy metal music. Examining various metal appropriations of themes, characters, and ideas from classical antiquity, some less orthodox than others, Fletcher notes, “… these songs should remind us that we as classicists do not control this material.” On the SCS website, Mary-Kay Gamel and the Outreach Committee have voiced a similar view concerning the shared understanding of classical material: “We use the word ‘outreach’ not to suggest a one-way communication in which scholars inform others, but a complex interaction in which all involved contribute to a discussion of what Classics is and what it might be.”

Not surprisingly, then, in January the Outreach Committee enjoyed a lively discussion of the role of professional classicists and their students as editors of Wikipedia articles on classical subjects.

Wikipedia is, of course, “the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” It is also the world’s sixth most-visited website. It is an enormous public forum in which academic experts and the interested public negotiate which facts should be given weight as reflective of a broad consensus of expert opinion. Wikipedia is a site to which many professors say that they turn for information outside their area of specialty. Teachers at leading universities now require that their students actively engage with the Wikipedia community. And these trends seem to be as true in classics as elsewhere. A show of hands at the Outreach Committee meeting confirmed that quite a few professors had edited articles. One member of the committee talked about requiring students to help edit Wikipedia articles. Many other Wikipedia classics editors are students–current or former–who were inspired by these same professors.

The question of the relationship of the credentialed expert to Wikipedia has been a raging controversy since (and, in truth, long before) Larry Sanger’s break with Wikipedia and subsequent publication of “The Fate of Expertise after Wikipedia” (Episteme, 2009). However, there seems to be less debate about the claim that Wikipedia and its users benefit from expert participation.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 11:54am by Ellen Bauerle.

by Herbert W. Benario  

This play is one of Shakespeare’s oddest. The theme focuses upon the Trojan War, with constant interplay among the great figures of the Greeks and Trojans, in the seventh year of the war. The cause of the war, the Trojan prince Paris stealing the beauteous wife of

Shakespeare will pronounce harsh judgments upon the heroine of the play. Her behavior and character will be sharply contrasted with one of Tacitus’ prime female figures in the struggle between Romans and Germans. Both suffer the indignity of being handed over to the enemy by their fathers. But their response and behavior are vastly different.

The focus of the play is likewise upon a young man and woman, Troilus, a son of King Priam of Troy, and Cressida, hitherto unknown in the ancient legend of Troy. She plays a relatively small role in the drama; indeed, almost everything about her is quizzical. She is traded by her father, Calchas, a seer who went over to the Greeks at the beginning of the war, for the release of an important Trojan, Antenor, of whom the audience knows nothing. Her father’s name is barely mentioned. Why had he defected from the Trojan side to that of the Greeks? But Homer (Iliad 1.69) states that he had sailed with the Greeks in the attack upon Troy. How came he there? Had he foreseen the ultimate victory of Troy’s enemy? For seven years, although on Trojan soil, he has had no contact with his daughter. Cressida tells Pandarus, “I have forgot my father; I know no touch of consanguinity; No kin, no love, no blood, no soul, so near me as the sweet Troilus.” (IV.2.99-102) Why?

What significance did he have among the Greek aristocracy that he should be the one to propose that his daughter should be exchanged for a political figure? Did he know that Cressida had of late spent a substantial amount of time with Troilus, which ultimately led, it appears, to intercourse and expression of deepest devotion? And, when the time came for the trade, she left Troy with deep feelings of love and regret but these rapidly passed and she soon found a Greek lover. Shakespeare tells his audience nothing about Calchas the father. The audience in the Playhouse must have been bemused when this as yet unknown character begins the proceedings that have such impact upon his daughter. Could he have determined that he wanted to separate Cressida from the Trojan royal family at the point when she grew from child to woman?

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 11:50am by Ellen Bauerle.

by Ronnie Ancona and Kathleen Durkin  

There is a shortage of certified Latin teachers in the United States. Latin teaching positions at the precollegiate level sometimes cannot be filled for lack of qualified applicants. In New York State, for example, where we both teach, in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, Latin was named specifically as a language with a teacher shortage by the United States Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 11:44am by Ellen Bauerle.

by Sebastian Heath 

As the tools and methods for creating 3D models of sites and objects become less expensive, archaeologists are increasingly putting them to good use in the field. This article focuses on my collaborative work to scan objects found at the site of Kenchreai in Greece and now stored nearby in the Isthmia Museum. It does cover practical issues and one goal of writing this piece is to encourage others to explore the creation of 3D content. Accordingly, I stress that 3D tools are becoming easier to use, not just less expensive. And it will be as important to think about what to do with these models after they are made. Permanent access to 3D models is a goal and initial steps towards that are described below. Likewise, rich linking of information about scanned objects to descriptions of their original archaeological findspot will further encourage contextualized studies of Greek and Roman material culture.

As 3D content becomes available on the internet, new approaches both to teaching and research will be enabled. This is particularly the case as virtual technologies move into consumer products, which is a development clearly seen in news coverage of relatively inexpensive virtual-reality headsets such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and FaceBook’s Oculus system. If immersive experiences are coming, classicists can prepare by creating materials that represent the cultures we study. Within this broad context, an underlying theme of the following discussion is that all members of the SCS community can choose to engage with the opportunities that three-dimensional renderings of the ancient Mediterranean world offer.

In recent years, a workflow that involves taking many photographs and processing them into a 3D model of a real-world object or scene has gained in both mind-share and actual results. This approach uses the overlap between photos in a set to calculate the position and shape of objects. That overlap can be discovered automatically and the resulting model has a realistic appearance and can serve as a useful surrogate for the original. Many practical examples and good discussions of photo-based modeling appear in the recent volume Visions of Substance: 3D Imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology, edited by W. Caraher and B. Olson and freely available in PDF form ( The work I describe here builds on themes developed in my contribution to that volume.

A major advantage of the photo based approach is cost. Many archaeologists working in the Mediterranean and elsewhere are using Agisoft Photoscan, which is available for an educational price of $59.00, though other solutions exist and there are more expensive versions of Photoscan as well.

View full article. | Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 10:47am by Ellen Bauerle.


About Amphora

Amphora is a peer-reviewed publication of the Society for Classical Studies that aims to convey the excitement of classical studies to a broad readership by offering accessible articles written by scholars and experts on topics of classical interest that include culture; classical tradition and reception in the arts; and reviews of current books, films, and web sites. Sponsored by the Committee on Communications and Outreach and supported by the SCS, Amphora is intended for anyone with a strong interest in or enthusiasm for the classical world.

Guidelines for Contributors

Amphora welcomes submissions from experts on topics dealing with the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome (literature, language, mythology, history, culture, classical tradition, and the arts). Submissions should not only reflect sound scholarship but also have wide appeal to Amphora's diverse outreach audience. Contributors should be willing to work with the editors to arrive at a mutually acceptable final manuscript that is appropriate to the intended audience and reflects the intention of Amphora to convey the excitement of classical studies. All submissions are refereed anonymously.

Publication Format:
Submissions to Amphora appear via the Amphora feed on the SCS blog and are highlighted with social media alerts. All published pieces are archived on the Amphora section of the SCS website.

Suggested Length of Submissions:
Although articles and reviews may be of any length, the typical Amphora length is articles of 1500-1800 words, and reviews of 500-1000 words. Lengthy footnotes are to be avoided, but links to supporting evidence and a reference list (when necessary) are most welcome. Images and media files will be accommodated whenever possible, provided the author and Amphora can secure proper permissions.


  • Wells Hansen, National Taiwan University

Editorial Board

  • Patrick Paul Hogan, Keith Country Day School
  • Seth Jeppesen , Brigham Young Univeristry
  • Brett Rogers, University of Puget Sound
  • Angeline Chiu, University of Vermont
  • Ward Briggs, Univ. of South Carolina, Emeritus
  • Kristopher Fletcher, Louisiana State University
  • Bonnie MacLachlan, University of Western Ontario
  • Thomas Sienkewicz, Monmouth College
  • Ben Strange, Masuk High School

Advisor to Amphora

  • Judy Hallett, University of Maryland

ex officio

  • Helen Cullyer, Executive Director of the Society for Classical Studies
  • Matt McGowen, Fordham University and Divisional Vice President for Communication and Outreach

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