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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.


Playing Offense: A Deeper Look into the Motivations and Significance of Sulla's March on Rome

In 88 BCE, Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla marched on his own city for the first time in the Roman Republic’s history to procure for himself political control that had been awarded to Gaius Marius. This paper examines not only the impact of this decision, but also some of the most important motivations behind it that help to shape the march’s significance. Specifically, narratives of Appian, Plutarch, and Velleius Paterculus, that describe this event, in conjunction with commentary from modern historian Allen M. Ward, are presented to illustrate that Sulla’s march on Rome was politically significant in that it set a precedent of violence against the state as a means to attain military command. However, it was not necessarily novel on its own: in fact, it was shaped by the Marian military reforms, Sulla's personal struggle for power in a rivalry with Marius, and the ongoing popular revolt against Roman authority during the Italian War.

Ancient Roman Spaces that Served as Museums

Between the 2nd century BCE and 2nd century CE, ancient Roman spaces, both public and private, served as museums that met religious, political, and social needs. Museums in the sense that they were places that acquired and exhibited art and objects; however, the purposes of these museums were strongly linked to where they were located and that space's uses. In religious contexts such as temples, shrines, and sanctuaries, art served primarily as votive offerings. Public buildings like the Atrium Libertatis displayed collections that commemorated important military victories and furthered political agendas. Other spaces, such as the Templum Pacis, served religious and political purposes simultaneously. Spoils of war dedicated to the god(s) associated with the military victory were exhibited alongside artworks to memorialize the military victor's piousness and achievements. Private collections were shaped by the interests of the collector and became popular due to practices in Pergamon and other Hellenistic courts. Owners of domus- and villa-style homes, like the master of the Villa of Papyri in Herculaneum, collected and displayed art to present themselves as culturally educated, upper-class men. Many of these homes even incorporated architectural, decorative, and literary elements to display their high status and facilitate reflective thinking and philosophical discussions. Since ancient times, museums have served to present a multitude of ideas, invite dialogue, and inspire an interest in culture.

Arguing for the Truth: The Conflict of Truth and Rhetoric and its Ramifications in Plato’s and Isocrates’ Educational Ideologies

If truth is absolute, how is it possible that people can argue for or against it? If truth is not absolute, on what is our existence predicated? Plato and Isocrates, two contemporaries in Classical Athens, took very different stands on the age-old problem of truth and the rhetorical manipulation of it. A close examination of Platonic dialogues and Isocrates’ speeches reveals that they had different understandings of the concept and purpose of truth. This fundamental divergence caused Plato and Isocrates to have disparate notions of rhetoric and even “philosophy”. Accordingly, they devised drastically different educational programs suited to their respective visions of truth and rhetoric, attempting to realize their competing ideals by means of pedagogy.

The Rape of Persephone in Children’s Media: Feminist Receptions of Classical Mythology

In contemporary academic contexts, the ‘Rape of Persephone’ myth is a source of insight into the powerlessness of women in patriarchal, Greco-Roman society. In popular culture, however, the myth has found a surprising second life amongst children’s media as the story of two unlikely, star-crossed lovers. Instead of simply rephrasing the myth as it is found in ancient sources, some Western authors and artists have changed the myth’s plot and characterization of Hades and Persephone in order to transform this rape myth into a love story. In this paper, I explore the ways in which each adaptation deviates from the source material and reveals contemporary views of gender politics. On the one hand, there are some adaptations in which the ‘Rape of Persephone’ is altered just enough to be deemed appropriate for children. On the other hand, there are retellings in which the changes appear to not simply censor the myth, but to subvert the sexism inherent in the myth itself. I argue that this latter phenomenon is an act of feminist resistance against centuries of reception to the Classical myths that perpetuate the sexist gender constructs of ancient society. Ultimately, I believe these adaptations will draw young audiences to study Classical mythology and will also open up new discussions of Classical material and the ways it is received by modern society.

Conflating Piety and Justice in Euripides' Orestes

Scholars have long debated the exact difference between what is “pious” (ὅσιος) and what is “lawfully right” (δίκαιος). Many agree that τὰ ὅσια are actions or deeds that please the gods, while τὰ δίκαια are mortal customs. Although, by definition, these two realms of justice are distinct, they are largely conflated in Euripides’ Orestes. In the end, piety (ὅσιος) trumps justice (δίκαιος) and even the τὸν κοινὸν Ἑλλήνων νόμον.

This paper explores the syntactic differences between these two realms and how Euripides comments on them within the play. After establishing a general trend toward anti-intellectual and religiously motivated sentiment after the scandals of 415 BCE in addition to the many rumors of persecuting intellectuals for impiety, this paper seeks to understand why Euripides departed for Macedon just after the production of the Orestes in light of these sweeping attitudes toward intellectuals and impiety. If, in fact, the intellectuals and philosophers of Athens were being persecuted for their work, Euripides’ Orestes comments on the injustice of these allegations of impiety and puts the god Apollo front and center to correct the populace’s misgivings and misunderstandings on the meanings of ὅσιος and δίκαιος. Given these new developments, this paper explicates exactly how the Orestes fits into the political context of its performance in 408 BCE.