Skip to main content
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.

Issue cover


Parody and Paradox: Novelty and Canonicity in Lucian’s Verae Historiae

The Verae historiae is famous for its paradoxical claim both condemning Lucian’s literary predecessors for lying and also confessing to tell no truths itself.  This paper attempts to tease out this contradictory parallel between Lucian’s own text and the texts of those he parodies even further, using a text’s/tradition’s ability to transmit truth as the grounds of comparison.  Focusing on the Isle of the Blest and the whale episodes as moments of meta-literary importance, this paper finds Lucian’s text to parody the poetic tradition for its limited ability to transmit truth, to express its distance from that tradition, and yet nevertheless to highlight its own limitations in its communication of truth.  In so doing, Lucian reflects upon the relationship between novelty and adherence to tradition present in the rhetoric of the Second Sophistic.

The Ionic Friezes of the Hephaisteion in the Athenian Agora

The Hephaisteion, the Doric temple of Hephaistos and Athena Ergane, crowning the Kolonos Agoraios hill (Fig.1), at the west side of the Athenian Agora, is the best preserved Doric temple from Antiquity. Despite its Doric order, the sculptural decoration of the Hephaisteion, which was constructed in the middle of the fifth century BC, included two continuous Ionic friezes set over the pronaos of the eastern side and the opisthodomos of the western side. Except for the Hephaisteion Ionic friezes, there are only two other cases preserved in Attica: one from the temple of Poseidon at Sounion and one from the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. However, only the Ionic friezes of the Hephaisteion have the unique advantage of being preserved in their original position on the temple, with only minor damage and alterations, so that their situation and function can be researched in situ. In this paper I examine in depth all the features of the Ionic friezes of the Hephaisteion, their architectural position, their visibility, their iconography, their audience, their function and the intention of their construction. Through my research, I attempt to show that the Ionic friezes on these Doric temples were not simply an artistic innovation of fifth-century BC architectural sculpture that flourished in the wealthy environment of Periklean Athens, but that their architectural order and iconography were used conciously by the city of Athens to transmit pro-Athenian messages and constitute eternal monuments of the Athenian achievements.

Dead men tell no tales: Speaking, Death and Poetic Authority in Propertius Book IV


Propertius begins his fourth book of poetry by claiming that he is a changed man. No more for him the pining after his domina, but instead he now styles himself as the ‘Roman Callimachus’, who is writing poetry in the service of his country (Roma, fave, tibi surgit opus IV.1.67). The fourth book of Propertius is notable for the cast of characters to whom the poet gives voice, and after a preliminary survey, the reader would be forgiven for thinking that Propertius was overtly obsessed with bringing the dead to life, particularly dead women.


This study explores the way in which these internal female narrators, including Arethusa, Cynthia, Acanthis and Cornelia, should be understood as mounting a narrative challenge to the wider context of Propertian poetics,  using the performative acts of both writing and speech to claim their own authority. This represents a contrast not only with the wider historical and social reality of the poems, but the dead women of Propertius also become provocative through the poet’s intertextual references to his great rival in aetiological poetry, Virgil.


Horace Ode 1.9

I originally translated Horace’s Ode 1.9 for a perfect translation exercise in Professor Ellen Oliensis’s “Lyric and Society” class. The poem has been a favorite of mine since I first read it because of its beautiful imagery and the way in which it melds several different scenes effectively into one piece. Particularly the first two stanzas struck me in their stark contrast of natural and human realms as did the last two stanzas which portray a sort of elusive intimacy that is completely different in setting and tone from the rest of the poem. My goals in translating were to remain close to the Latin, emphasizing details that stood out to me in Horace’s word choice, and to generally maintain the tone of each segment.

A Poetic Translation of Ecclesiastes, Chapters 9 & 10

Chapters nine and ten of Ecclesiastes in the original Hebrew stand as the most fascinating and enjoyable chapters in the opinion of the translators. We therefore wanted to express that pleasure by adhering to the original Hebrew, for the most part, as literally as possible. Further, we suspect that we have found a way to best express the poetic prose of the Hebrew: we have expressed our translation in relatively strict iambic pentameter. We have broken the meter where it felt fitting to the translation and where it seemed otherwise impossible to adhere. Our translation differs in a few key respects from King James and other translations; we therefore hope that the reader will examine their favorite translation and compare it with ours. Familiarity with the rest of Ecclesiastes is not necessary to enjoy our excerpt. We have left the Hebrew side-by-side with our translation for further scrutiny.