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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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Comic Spaces and Plautus’ Rudens

While there has been a resurgence in the study of the much maligned genre of Roman Comedy, the majority of work has focused on points philological, socio-political, and on comic word-play. Among Plautus’ work, the Rudens stands alone as a play set outside a city, as the most prolific Roman comedic playwright takes us to the seaside for a classic whirlwind farce revolving around a lost daughter, a besotted lover, mistaken identities, and prostitutes. The unique setting of this play allows the modern audience an insight into the spatial tensions within the Roman mind, as we explore what happens where sea and land meet.

The Piraeus and the Panathenaia: Changing Customs in Late-Fifth Century Athens

The architecture of ancient Greece has been a field of interest since the 18th century. Equally important to the Greeks of that time, if not more so, was urban planning. One example of this is the reconstruction and reconfiguration of Athens’ port, which coincided with the rise of Athenian democracy and empire. This paper explores the effects that the planning of Athens' port, the Piraeus, by Hippodamus of Miletus had on the celebrations of the Athenians during the Age of Pericles, specifically the Panathenaia. The paper uses a variety of sources, from archaeological evidence to contemporary political theory, to conclude that the rebuilt Piraeus had both directly and indirectly positive effects on Athenian civil identity into the late 500s BCE.

Thucydides' Mytilenean Debate: Fifth Century Rhetoric and its Representation

The paper will explain the significant contribution that Thucydides’ Mytilenean Debate makes to our understanding of fifth-century rhetoric and its representation: firstly, by vindicating Thucydides’ controversial methodology in his representation of speeches, of which this debate is paradigmatic; secondly, by illustrating the influence that the tradition of model forensic speeches had on these deliberative ones in form and content (i.e. arguments); and thirdly, by demonstrating the ambiguity of rhetoric’s dangerously powerful role in the political decision-making in Athens.

The Persian Alexander: The Numismatic Portraiture of the Pontic Dynasty

Hellenistic coinage is a popular topic in art historical research as it is an invaluable resource of information about the political relationship between Greek rulers and their subjects. However, most scholars have focused on the wealthier and more famous dynasties of the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. Thus, there have been considerably fewer studies done on the artistic styles of the coins of the smaller outlying Hellenistic kingdoms. This paper analyzes the numismatic portraiture of the kings of Pontus, a peripheral kingdom located in northern Anatolia along the shores of the Black Sea. In order to evaluate the degree of similarity or difference in the Pontic kings’ modes of representation in relation to the traditional royal Hellenistic style, their coinage is compared to the numismatic depictions of Alexander the Great of Macedon. A careful art historical analysis reveals that Pontic portrait styles correlate with the individual political motivations and historical circumstances of each king. Pontic rulers actively choose to diverge from or emulate the royal Hellenistic portrait style with the intention of either gaining support from their Anatolian and Persian subjects or being accepted as legitimate Greek sovereigns within the context of international politics. Overall, this paper illustrates how widely-circulating royal images are purposefully utilized and manipulated to advance the Hellenistic rulers’ political ambitions.