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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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The Princess, The Pauper and The Perpetrator- A Trinational Electra in the Twentieth Century

The Electra myth has been a popular subject throughout the centuries for dramatists. The three great ancient Greek tragedians (Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides) each created his own version of the myth, and these plays have been and continue to be translated or adapted into various languages. In contradiction to the famous phrase “lost in translation,” adaptations may incorporate political or cultural aspects of the country in which they are conceived, giving them even greater substance and meaning. The purpose of this paper, in turn, is two-fold. I begin by presenting and exploring the differences among the three Greek versions of the ancient tragedians and their implications. However, the majority of this paper focuses around three twentieth-century adaptations of each of the playwrights’ versions (namely, Jean Giraudoux’s French Électre, Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s German Elektra, and Eugene O’Neill’s American Mourning Becomes Electra). In addition to analyzing the changes made by these adaptations from their Greek “originals,” I also address why each adaptation may have chosen a particular Greek text as its source, as well as the political or social influences behind each adaptation.


Medea: Incarnate Queen of Disorder

A poem on the original queen of disorder and a part of whose spirit lives in all mothers and wives.

‘The Realm of Truth Confronting its Shadowy Other’? The Reality of Elite Self-Distancing Narratives in Classical Literature

This paper presents an oppositional analysis between representations of elite and non-elite spaces in classical literature, focussing on elite residences (Section I) and the common Roman barbershop (Section II). Its aim is to highlight the ancient literary elite’s selective deployment of the urban as a tool for reinforcing the divide between elite and non-elite. My main ancient sources are Achilles Tatius and Plutarch, and secondary literature (particularly from Tim Whitmarsh and Jerry Toner) is cited throughout the piece. It deals with issues of narrative authority, truth, and – although not explicitly framed in this term – 'fake news', a topic which of course has been at the fore of public discourse in recent years.

Indo-European Poesy and the 'Ship of State' in Aristophanes's "The Frogs"

Among several Indo-European poetic and literary inheritances from which Aristophanes draws in his play The Frogs, a crucial one seems to have been overlooked thus far, which ties together seemingly disparate beats and motifs in the play.  This is the metaphor analogizing poets to carpenters, their craft (poems) to ships, and recitation/composition as sailing, which besides its appearance in other branches of the Indo-European languages, is attested in other places in the Greek corpus too, especially in the works of Pindar.  Tying this inherited poetic trope in with the metaphorical “ship of state” (attested in the lyric poets, tragedians, Plato, etc.) and the on-the-ground importance of Athens’s naval culture and service to its polity makes the trope into more than just a technique for poetic embellishment, but rather, a crucial element in interpreting the literary and political significance of these aforementioned seemingly disparate sections of the play, the motivations of characters, and the play’s overall message, in what is one of Arisophanes’s plays which most pointedly comments on the process and importance of producing poetry.  By analogizing shipbuilding and sailing to poesy and by unifying the act of rowing in ships to citizenship, Aristophanes intertwines the proper construction and appreciation of poetry with the health of the Athenian polity and participation in it.

Woman of Tiryns

This painting, reproduced from a Mycenaean fresco from Tiryns (c. 1300 B.C.E) in watercolor, depicts a woman in a style quite characteristic of Bronze Age Greece, holding a pyxis, or an ivory box.

The Indo-European Religious Background of the Gygēs Tale in Hērodotos

In his exposition to the story of Kroisos in the first book of his Histories, Hērodotos narrates the rise of the Mermnad dynasty of Lydia through an act of assassination and usurpation by their founder, Gygēs. Commentators on Hērodotos’s text have seemingly neglected the resonances between the tale of Gygēs and the ancient Eurasian religious ideology of the sacred marriage, which conceptualized sovereign power as a goddess wedded to a male sovereign. This paper seeks to place the Gygēs narrative within the context of Indo-European traditions of the sacred marriage, suggesting that its origins lie in historicized myth.