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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.

Volume 7, Issue 1 Fall 2018


Fall 2018 Cover

Fall 2018 edition of BUJC, designed by Anna-Tessa Rodriguez (Class of 2020, UC Berkeley)

Letter from the Editor Fall 2018

a short introduction by the new Editor-in-Chief of this semester's publication

Frayed Around the Edges: Ovid’s Book and Ovid’s Identity in Tristia 1.1 and 3.1

In Tristia 1.1 and 3.1, Ovid grapples with his sadness at being exiled from Rome to the empire’s periphery. Scholars typically interpret these poems, in which Ovid imagines his book journeying to Rome on his behalf, as exhibiting either Ovid’s total longing for Rome, or his total withdrawal in exile. Ovid’s identity, however, is more nuanced. Applying the theoretical lens of center/periphery to Tristia 1.1 and 3.1, I conclude that when Ovid wrote Tristia, his identity was actually in flux. Reading Ovid’s poems through the lens of center/periphery, we see how he engages with themes of exclusion and alterity. Thus, we can better appreciate Ovid’s shifting self-conception: no longer of the Roman elite, but a marginalized figure. Reflecting this change, Ovid draws on the contemporary poetic tradition of aestheticizing books, but he turns it on its head. Instead of emphasizing the color and refine of ideal Roman books, Ovid emphasizes the “other” nature of his book, which is color-less and un-refined. Ovid also uses such othering descriptions for the Getae, residents of Tomis, and for Briseis, the Trojan concubine. As Ovid shifts focus towards these peripheral figures, his identity shifts as he becomes a more peripheral figure. Therefore, in Tristia 1.1 and 3.1, Ovid grapples with his identity, more than with his sorrow; as his attitude adjusts, he begins to come to terms with his own status as a peripheral other.

Searching for Answers: Lucretius’s Atomic Soul

In his De Rerum Natura, Lucretius strives to scientifically explain several aspects of the natural world. At times, however, his explanations suggest that his philosophical principles precede scientific evidence. This paper examines the relationship between Lucretius’s science and philosophy in general, and his treatment of the human soul more specifically. Based on the Epicurean principle that the fear of death is irrational, Lucretius attempts to prove that the soul is entirely physical, and will therefore cease to exist after death, while accounting for its sentience. He must describe an atomic soul, no matter how complicating this becomes, in order to satisfy the principle that nothing comes after death. This entails describing the soul in the same manner as perceptible phenomena, and for this reason his evidence meets with several obstacles. Lucretius’s scientific explanation for the soul presents compelling evidence that he forms a scientific basis around pre-existing philosophical principles, contradicting the assumption that science predates philosophy.

The Philosophical Satire of Apuleius' Cupid and Psyche: Alignment and Contradiction in Allusions to Plato and Lucretius

Cupid and Psyche, the expositional myth that interrupts the narrative of Apuleius' novel Metamorphoses, has been regarded as Platonic allegory for how the soul falls in love. However, inconsistencies and faults in the Platonic logic of Apuleius' allusions have caused some scholars to question the strict Platonic reading. Additionally, Apuleius' allusions to philosophic beliefs are not limited to the Platonic. His extensive quotations of Lucretius and his De Rerum Natura have long been recognized, though they are rarely studied at great length. Looking closely at the allusions to De Rerum Natura in Cupid and Psyche, I have found a rich coexistence of philosophical alignment and contradiction to Lucretius' Epicureanism. Therefore, considering the existence of allusions that correspond to and contradict both Platonism and Epicureanism and the relationship between those allusions and the rest of the text, I shall demonstrate that the tale of Cupid and Psyche is not simply an exposition of Platonic philosophy but rather a philosophic farce. Apuleius draws his readers in with a multitude of references to the canon of Mediterranean literature and then subverts and satirizes those works. His fantastical story–– which on the face seems to be a lofty myth about love and heartbreak, heaven and hell, labors and celebration–– becomes a well-crafted joke and a lesson in intellectual humility.

Ganymede the Cup Bearer: Variations and Receptions of the Ganymede Myth

A beautiful young boy carried away by an eagle up and became a cup-bearer on Mount Olympus—this is the myth of Ganymede. But who is this young boy? And why is he carried away by an eagle? Interpreters, from mythographers in the late antiquity to historians still living today, have attempted to interpret this myth and to unveil the significance behind this young cup-bearer’s abduction. The Ganymede myth is told differently by many myth tellers—from Homer to the tenth century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda—and interpreted differently by many interpreters. In this essay, I focus on how four different interpreters—Fulgentius, Natale Conti, Jan Bremmer, and Petra Affeld-Niemeyer—are interpreting differently the elements of Ganymede’s abduction, the eagle which carries Ganymede away, and the liquid Ganymede is bearing in his cup. I argue that the four interpreters interpret the Ganymede myth differently because of their varying presumptions about the fundamental nature of the myth. They interpret the act of abduction differently because they have different presumptions about the creator of the myth, and they interpret the eagle and the liquid differently because they have different assumptions about the meaning of the myth.

Timeless Masters of Rhetoric: Socrates and Johnnie Cochran

In contrast to its recent pedagogical decline and ongoing negative perceptions, the enduring significance of rhetoric as an independent, systematized discipline continues to be emphasized by modern scholars. In light of this dichotomy, this study presents a coherent, cross-cultural review of two renowned, juridical speeches which aims to highlight the vitality, applicability and confluence of classical Greek rhetoric in contemporary legal speech. Employing its own rhetorical taxonomy, this study seeks to illuminate rhetorical interconnections between examples of classical and modern, North-American forensic oratory by highlighting the homogenous and canonical methodology of ancient and modern orators.