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


Messenger, Prophet, Poet, Bee.

This paper seeks to explore the space that bees occupy within Greek religious practice. By exploring the appearance of bees within the visual and literary culture of Greek religion, I have tried to shine a little light onto a relatively untouched area of Greek religious culture.

Previous scholarship has taken the approach of a prosopography, referencing the appearance of bees without much analysis of their role or semiotics in Greek religious rites.


Instead, I have tried to present apian imagery and culture as a divine intermediary, able to confer divine gifts onto humankind. I have taken inspiration from some of my interests, including literature, philosophy, myth, and drama to paint a picture of the role of bees as messengers of prophecy and poetry.


I have concluded that bees operate as intermediaries of the divine, with the ability to transgress both the divine, the mortal, and the chthonic plane. They are akin to daimons, and platonic souls and offer us many new interpretations of Greek religious practice.

Gifts to Apollo: Tracking Delphi’s Changing Role through Dedicatory Practice

This text analyzes the offerings dedicated to Delphi by autocrats during the site’s lifetime as a sanctuary to Apollo in order to understand Delphi’s role as perceived by Mediterranean powers, and how this role changed through time. Using a combined approach from the fields of art history and classics, the evidence for this paper comes primarily from visual analysis of surviving dedications, as well as study of ancient texts written by classical historians and ancient witnesses to Delphi, such as Herodotus. Through chronological examination of autocrats’ dedications to Delphi, from the site’s genesis as a religious sanctuary in the 8th century BC until it’s decline under the Christian Roman Empire, this paper seeks to understand Delphi’s changing role and level of influence as perceived by both mainland Greeks and foreigners.

Socrates in Plato’s Symposium: a lover of wisdom who lacks wisdom on love

Traditional interpretations of the Symposium tend to treat Socrates as Plato’s mouthpiece, interpreting the philosophical meaning of the text based on Socrates’ speech alone. The aim of this essay is to discern whether incorporating literary elements, such as Socrates’ characterization and interaction with other characters, into the interpretive process changes the philosophical meaning of the Symposium. For this purpose I examine two aspects of Socrates’ character: his physiology and psychology. I demonstrate how Socrates’ oddity poses a problem for the theory that he is a mouthpiece for Plato’s philosophy verbatim and suggests that, contrary to traditional interpretations, he has not completed the erotic ascent described by Diotima and hence does not possess complete knowledge of love. In my analysis I pay particular attention to the speech of Alcibiades and the interpretations of Martha Nussbaum and James McGuirk. I then conclude by demonstrating how an ignorant Socrates’ characterization and role in the narration illuminates something essentially Platonic: the role of physical love in understanding beauty and the value of lived experience.

The Barbarian Dux Femina: A Study in Creating Boudicca

This paper will be concerned with unpacking the language employed by ancient historians Tacitus and Cassius Dio to create the foreign, rebellious queen, Boudicca. I will argue that Tacitus and Dio’s accounts each create a Boudicca that is more dynamic than simply a negative exempla. While there has been debate as to how legitamet Cassius Dio's account can be, and the extent to which Tacitus seriously portrays female characters, I believe that equally important history can be taken from the speech that both male writers put in the mouth of a female, savage queen. This paper will focus on each of the speeches given by Tacitus and Dio’s Boudiccas. It will then contextualize each author’s language by bringing in other materials concerned with women, sex, and gender in the ancient world.

A proposed framework for Roman "chastity crimes": Pudicitia in early Imperial Literature

Frequent concern over sexual ethics and behavior in Early Imperial Roman literature encompasses strict norms of what it means to be a good Roman man, woman, slave, soldier, or various other potentially overlapping identities, in a way that reveals the importance of ethical sexual behavior for the functioning of Rome. What to the modern imagination might simply be imagery of sexual indulgence and orgies is actually, at least in Roman literature, a complex system of expectations and measures working to keep individuals, families, and the city running smoothly. In patriarchal societies in which sexual morality is a concern, certain patterns of behavior are set in motion when a sexual transgression, typically implicating a woman, occurs. In early Imperial Roman literature, the operative category in cases of sexual deviance is pudicitia, or chastity.[1] This paper frames pudicitia governing over individuals and the city as a code, in comparison to codes of honor that govern societies and cultures in which honor crimes are prevalent.[2] An analysis of the literary tradition of pudicitia in Livy’s historical literature and the moralistic writings of Valerius Maximus against an anthropological framework of honor killings, in which the family is the dominant unit, reveals that threats to pudicitia pose a risk to not merely the family or even the local community, but the state and its constitutional form.

[1] See Section II below for a full discussion of the term pudicitia.

[2] Cynthia Helba & Matthew Bernstein. Report on Exploratory Study Into Honor Violence Measurement and Methods.12. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2015. Web. Honor crimes, which encompass honor killings, are defined as the punishment and/or elimination of girls and women whose actions display or even simply invite rumors of sexual transgression as a mechanism to maintain a family’s honor.