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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal of Classics is committed to the progress and proliferation of scholarship in the field of Classics and to providing a common medium through which undergraduates from all relevant disciplines can actively engage in one another’s work. In order to establish a channel for interdepartmental exchange and collaboration, we seek to publish exceptional papers and translations from a wide range of fields pertaining to Classics and the world of the ancient Mediterranean.


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Cover Letter

This is the cover letter for volume nine issue one


Manly Women and Womanly Men: An Analysis of Gender Stereotypes and Inversions in Terence’s Hecyra

In Roman New Comedy, each role is a caricature informed by societal expectations: the passive matrona, the grouchy uir, the abused but patient young uxor, the egotistical adulescens, and the self-serving meretrix. Hecyra stands out among Terence’s plays because it is unclear whether he is reinforcing or deconstructing these familiar stereotypes. Most scholars focus on the role of women, who are more involved in this play than any other by Terence. They seem to drive the plot forward and have more information than the men, but at the same time, they might be said to placate their husbands and sacrifice for their children. This begs the question, “Are the women in Hecyra acting unusually?” This paper will examine the expectations of women in New Comedy in relation to scenes where women in Hecyra might be said to be contradicting their prescribed roles. This discussion will prove that the wives are not acting in unexpected ways. Although they are active characters, they behave as is proper for mothers and wives. The question then becomes, “Why do the Hecyra women appear to be acting unusually to us?” To answer this, it will be necessary to look critically at the ways in which the women interact with the Hecyra men. As a result, it will become clear that it is not the women, but Pamphilus, the adulescens, himself who is defying gender expectations.

Defining Amantem: Dido and Popular Modern English Translations of the Aeneid

In the Aeneid, Ancient Rome’s seminal epic poem and Vergil’s greatest work, a queen falls in love and later commits suicide. This queen’s name is Dido, and her story contains some of Vergil’s best poetry, but it has also long been a source of interpretive debate by translators. This paper seeks to illuminate how popular, modern, English translations of the Aeneid have depicted this dynamic, tragic character. These translations (i.e. Ruben, Fitzgerald, Lewis, and others) are the ones read in classrooms and disseminated to the wider public. This paper will attempt to understand them by examining how a translator’s personality and philosophy affect their decisions about the translation’s fidelity, cadence, and expressiveness. It is a comprehensive outline of Dido’s journey through the modern age and how that journey may change as more translators come to the fore who have their own distinct, diverse stories. The Aeneid lives through its translators; it grows as the translators do, and it falters too when they do. Dido is the perfect case study for that.

AGAINST FATE AND FORTUNE: The Ethics of Agency in Books 1-6 of Statius' Thebaid

Statius' Thebaid, a Roman retelling of the infamous Oedipus myth, owes much to its literary forebears. The central tale the epic explores is borrowed from an ancient source: Greek accounts of an unlucky Oedipus and his unhappy offspring. But this first-century rendering is not a carbon copy of its antediluvian precedents, and Statius' treatments of fate, fortune, and human agency diverge distinctly from those of his most immediate narrative parallels. Indeed, it is in the Thebaid's departure from the causal framework of these assorted sources that its author's influence is most clear.

Throughout the epic's early books, the doubled determinism of Statius' literary inheritance gives way to a possibility of ethical independence for creator and character alike. This mirroring effect—the author's compositional agency is employed to endow his actors with more expansive moral options—serves within the text both to ennoble autonomy and condemn those individuals unwilling or unable to eschew inauspicious pasts. And while the poem's predetermined end leaves little room for autochthonous action (Statius' loyalty to his sources is incomplete but not absent), the Thebaid's first six books provide readers with a roadmap to an alternative arena of human conduct. By adopting and adapting narrative features evident in the works of Aeschylus, Apollodorus, and others, the Thebaid's creator crafts a moral message of his own.

Reception of Epicureanism at Rome: Cicero, Lucretius, and the Flexibility of Greek Models in the Late Republic

Epicureanism, a Greek philosophical school founded in Athens c. 307 BCE, conceives of “pleasure” (αταρξία) as the ultimate human good. This essay aims to investigate the reception of Epicureanism at Rome in the mid-1st century BCE, drawing on Cicero’s In Pisonem and Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura as case studies. Each work addresses the question of whether Epicurus could operate within the framework of Roman cultural and political values and, consequently, whether he should be appropriated into Roman thinking. Through close examination of these two texts, I argue that each author ultimately builds his own version of “Epicurus” to serve his distinctive rhetorical aims. Cicero and Lucretius therefore come together to provide examples of a broader phenomenon surrounding the issue of Hellenization at Rome, namely, that of Greek figures being rewritten and repurposed in different contexts to serve different Roman agendas, revealing the flexible nature of Greek models at Rome and of Romans’ engagement with the Greek past.

Ancient Information War within Greek Colonial Narratives: An Analysis of the Theraian-Cyrenean Founding Myth through Historiography and Archaeology

During the Greek Archaic Period, the Greek world saw rapid development in culture, economy and political organization.  These advancements led to increased prosperity and facilitated the formation of distinct political units.  However, these developments introduced new pressures on these nascent governments, which led to waves of Greek colonization across the Mediterranean world.  This introduced the new political relationship of ‘mother city’ and ‘colony’ into existing trans-Mediterranean networks, a complex structure that would play a large role in the politics of the Greek Classical Period.  This paper explores the colonial foundation narrative of Cyrene, one of the most well documented foundation myths surviving, by looking at the competing and contrasting claims put forward by Cyrene and Thera.  This paper examines the both the historical context and the geopolitical considerations at play behind the various components of the divergent traditions.  In the context of today’s increasingly fractious information space, this paper serves to show that manipulation and distortion of political narratives is not a new phenomenon, and that in the end, the victim is usually the historical truth.