Classical Studies Blog


A Walk with Vergil: Esther Popel Shaw’s Journey with Latin in Dickinson College at the Turn of the 20th Century

Dickinson’s first female African-American student Esther Popel Shaw (1896-1958) was a devoted Latin student, and thirty years after graduation she named classicist Mervin G. Filler as a favorite professor. In the spring of 2017 Michelle E. Hoffer (’17) wrote about the academic experiences of Popel Shaw, with a focus on how she would have encountered the Aeneid. This […]


Nero’s Forgiveness: The depiction of a Tragic Emperor in Nero (2004)

Luke Nicosia (’21) discusses the surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the Roman emperor Nero that emerges from a 2004 film by British Director Paul Cohen released on television in the Imperium series. Nero is the second installation in the Imperium series; originally planned as a six-film series based on the history of the Roman empire, only […]


Cleopatra (1963)

The sexualization of Cleopatra in Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1963 screen epic does scant justice to Cleopatra’s political stature and acumen, argues Isabella Jurcisin (’20) Plot Outline     The film opens with Julius Caesar, played by the esteemed Rex Harrison, looking down upon the lifeless bodies of soldiers after the bloody Battle of Pharsalus. This battle had […]


Faith and Spectacle: Examining Quo Vadis (1951)

Claire Jeantheau (’21) argues that Quo Vadis is part well-intentioned message on religious devotion, part reflection of an era of global conflict, and part entirely empty spectacle. PLOT OUTLINE It is 64 AD, and Rome’s 14th Legion is returning home on the Appian Way after fighting against an uprising in Britain, led by commander Marcus Vinicius […]


Hollywood and History: The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)

Cameron Cunningham (’20) argues that Anthony Mann’s Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) served as a warning to the United States to resist corruption and discriminatory attitudes, and a reminder that great power should be used for good. The film I decided to watch was, The Fall of the Roman Empire, directed by Anthony Mann. I enjoyed […]


Dickinson College Classical Studies Department Hosts Classics Honor Society’s National Conference

Re-posted from the main Dickinson College website here,  April 11, 2018 Dickinson College’s Department of Classical Studies recently explored everything from the Hercules cycle to Caesar and the Battle of Alesia during the national conference of the Eta Sigma Phi classics honor society. Hosted on campus—and attended by nearly 100 undergraduates and 15 faculty members from across the country—the three-day annual […]


Classics Festival Pre-recorded songs, skits, and A-V projects

These are the Classics Festival Projects that will be judged by Dickinson Eta Sigma Phi members on Sunday April 22. Games Game # 8 write-up (Harriton) Skits Skit-1  Camp Hill/ Roman  Igitur Dinosaur  Performers: Nick Smeal and Michael Baturin;  Writer and translator: Nick Smeal Skit-2 Harriton/Cambria Ecce Romani Latin 1 students Alice Zehner Skit-3 East […]


Questioning and Responsible Citizens

The following is a slightly edited version of Dickinson President Margee Ensign’s opening remarks at the Eta Sigma Phi National Convention, delivered in Allison Hall, Dickinson College, March 24, 2018. Dickinson College was established in 1783, the first college founded at the close of the American Revolution. That was a revolution led by learned men, […]


Weighing Spartan Sacrifice

The Spartan ideals of duty and physical stamina are appealing, argues Claire Jeantheau (’21), but the society which the Spartans defended is one marked by the elimination of independent thought and the physically vulnerable. Before the final, climactic battle of Zack Snyder’s 300 (2006), the Spartan king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) sees Sparta-born Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan), […]


Ancient Sparta: Realities and Legends

ROTC cadet Thomas Forte (’20) reflects on Sparta, the film 300, and American military culture. In the last few decades, the Spartan legend has come to be highly regarded in American culture, especially among athletes, gym-goers and military personnel. The image of an athlete or combat veteran sporting clothing marked with the infamous Corinthian helmet […]