Photos around Campus

Cornell University’s Dr. Frederick Ahl Visits Hampden-Sydney College

Dr. Ahl presents his lecture to a packed fourth floor lounge in Bortz Library

The Classics Department recently hosted a delightful visit by Frederick Ahl, Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. Professor Ahl guest-lectured in several classes during his visit on campus, was joined at dinner by members of Eta Sigma Phi (Classics national honor society) and Western Culture 101 faculty, and delivered an evening lecture in the library to an audience of over 80 students, faculty, and guests.

The title of Dr. Ahl’s talk was “Polyphemus and Oedipus: What Happens When You Let Nobodies Define You.” He discussed both Homer’s Odyssey and Sophocles’ Oedipus and specifically addressed the textual transmission of Sophocles’ Oedipus, showing how even the smallest incorrect emendation of an ancient text can skew our understanding of that text. In fact, we learned that many of the assumptions we make about Sophocles’ Oedipus are just that: assumptions. He shared the surprise he felt when he stumbled upon a discrepancy in translations only to track the problem to two conflicting versions of the original Greek text. Dr. Ahl’s impressive handout and his masterful presentation allowed everyone to follow along just fine – even those among us who don’t read ancient Greek.

The Classics Department would like to thank Thompson Hospitality, the Lectures and Programs Committee, and everyone who contributed their services and expertise to make this series of events such a grand success. dinner with Samantha Schmitz, Josh Gaskill, Parker Dunaway, Kevin Wade, Professors Irons, Professor de Luca, Professor Prevo, Professor Ahl, Professor Nace, and Professor Glont

at dinner with Samantha Schmitz, Josh Gaskill, Parker Dunaway, Kevin Wade, Professor Irons, Professor de Luca, Professor Prevo, Professor Ahl, Professor Nace, and Professor Glont

dinner with Dr. Ahl

Dr. Ahl regaling students in Dr. Siegel's Western Culture 101 class

Dr. Ahl regaling students in Dr. Siegel’s Western Culture 101 class

Dr. Ahl in conversation with Professors Nace and Siegel

HSC students and faculty travel to Randolph College to see Oedipus

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On Sunday October 5, about 140 HSC students and faculty traveled in a caravan of Prince Edward County school buses to Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va. to see the technical dress rehearsal of their production of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (their real performance dates fell during our fall break). The unique venue of the production (performed in an outside theater called the Dell) and the impressive masks worn by the actors (made with a 3-D printer) are only two of the memorable aspects of this fabulous experience. Congratulations to director Amy Cohen and to her fine assemblage of actors, musicians, stage workers, and everyone else who worked so hard to bring this production to the stage. We really had a great time and we look forward to their next production two years from now!

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Bell Wins Fulbright U.S. Student Award

Eta Sigma Phi Inititation

A Trip to See Metamorphoses

On Sunday, February 24, 2013, Ryan Justus, Alexander Sefton, Sam Haden, and James Theuer (see photo) accompanied Dr. Janice Siegel on a trip to Washington D.C. to see a play based on the work of the Roman poet Ovid. Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses presents a number of episodes from Ovid’s magnum opus of the same name: Orpheus and Eurydice (along with Rilke’s treatment of the same myth), Cinyras and Myrrha, Pomona and Vertumnus, Midas and the Golden Touch, Cupid and Psyche (which is from Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, not Ovid’s), Phaethon, Erysichthon, and Baucis and Philemon.  All these tales somehow grapple with the themes of grief and loss. This production at the Arena Stage presented these tales light-heartedly but did not forfeit any of their intrinsic meaning. It was a remarkable live theater experience.

After the play, we walked to the National Mall, peeked inside the Air and Space Museum, took a whirlwind tour of the National Gallery of Art, and then walked to Chinatown for a great dinner. We can’t wait for the next classically-inspired play to hit the theaters!
The Department of Classics is grateful to the Associate Dean of Faculty Michael Utzinger for providing full funding for tickets and transportation, and to the Dean of Students Office for paying for our breakfast and dinner. A great time was had by all!

Can you find the mistake?

The results of a Latin Scrabble game played by Dr. Richard McClintock, Mrs. Debbie McClintock, their grandson Benjamin Wade, HSC junior Daniel Hopkins, HSC sophomore Shawn Stum, and Dr. Janice Siegel. Alas, in our zeal to use unusual forms, there is one mistake on the board…can you find it? (Dr. Siegel takes responsibility for the error).

Eta Sigma Phi

On Wednesday March 21, 2012, Hampden-Sydney’s Beta Theta chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national Classics Honor Society, held its annual induction ceremony, and students from HSC, Sweet Briar, and Randolph College came together to celebrate our appreciation of the classical tradition and our successful completion of the entrance exam. The exam explored the knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheons, the literature of Homer and Virgil, the leaders of the Roman Empire, and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 

The Hampden-Sydney Classics Department is proud to announce the following students as the newest inductees into our Beta Theta chapter here at HSC:
Drake Bishop, Connor Crowley, Thomas Duhamel, Zachary Fox, Jordan Hock, Brian Talbert, and Julian Yates.

The early evening event featured a lovely dinner hosted by Randolph College in Lynchburg with presentations by Dr. Dennis Stevens (Hampden-Sydney’s incoming Dean of Faculty, and Randolph College’s outgoing Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College), and by Dr. Bryce Walker of the Sweet Briar College Classics Department. We would like to thank our hosts and speakers for their generosity, and our Classics Department here at HSC for supporting our students in the study of the Classics. If you are interested in learning more about Eta Sigma Phi and how to become a member, contact Dr. Daniella Widdows ( or Dr. Janice Siegel ( for more information.

Team Wolverine wins the Second Annual Classical Legacy Certamen at HSC!

     The spirit of competition was alive this weekend at HSC as the Second Annual Classical Legacy Certamen was held Saturday morning, February 4, 2012. Students from a variety of different majors, freshmen to seniors, went head-to-head, testing their mettle against a series of questions and squaring off to determine which team could best navigate the etymological, mythological, and philological obstacles set before them. Contestants were asked about a wide range of subjects, including the origin of the Pactolus River’s golden sand (the result of King Midas’ rinsed hands), the beauty that caused an ancient international war in Troy (Helen), and the original four elements according to Empedocles (earth, air, fire, and water).

     The Classics Department would like to thank all current students who participated in the event, including Thomas Calderwood, Thomas Browne, Thomas Duhamel, Zach Fox, Marcus Pendergrass, Samuel Haden, Clifton Hudson, Lewis Bell, Jordan Hock, Matt Buchanan, and Parker Dunaway. Also, we would like to thank two returning alumni – and former Certamen champions – who took part in the festivities as special guest competitors (Dr. Siegel would especially like to thank them for their good sportsmanship even after they realized that the deck was stacked against them! It was great to see them!). After the dust settled, the members of Team Wolverine (Lewis Bell, Parker Dunaway, Matt Buchanan, and Jordan Hock) walked away with the cash awards as winners of Hampden-Sydney College Classics Department’s Second Annual Classical Legacy Certamen.

     Everyone on the student and alumni teams (guests April and Elizabeth teamed up with Tal and Will) received a new book of their choice. Thanks to Ron Pullins from Focus Publishing and Hampden-Sydney’s own chapter of Eta Sigma Phi for providing those prizes, and thanks to the Lectures and Programs Committee for their generosity and to Dining Services for the yummy reception. Last but not least, thanks also go to Dr. Daniella Widdows, Dr. Janice Siegel, Dr. James Arieti, and Dr. Richard McClintock, without whom this event would not have been possible.


       Drs. Siegel and Widdows:                 Participants in the Second Annual

 Classics Trivia is serious business            Classical Legacy Certamen at HSC



 Alumni and 2011 Certamen Champions

 Will Riggenbach and Tal Covington

Prizes and certificates for participating

Presentation by Professor Andrew S. Becker

     On January 26, Dr. Becker, guest of the Department of Classics, spoke to a full house in the Chairman’s Room. Afterwards, he fielded questions and mingled with faculty and students at the reception generously provided by the Lectures and Programs Committee.

“The Old Words Have Blood on Them: Ancient Texts and Us”

Classics Department Event

Thursday January 26, 4:30 in the Chairman’s Room, Settle Hall

A Presentation by Professor Andrew S. Becker, Virginia Tech


     In this talk Dr. Andrew S. Becker (Virginia Tech) will explore a variety of (relatively) modern poems & perspectives (from literature, anthropology, and linguistics) that we can use for thinking about ancient Greece and Rome, and then explore ways of using our study of these ancient literatures as “equipment for living.”


     In his presentation, he will draw on a wide variety of authors such as philosophers José Ortega y Gasset and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Kenneth Burke (literary and cultural theorist) Wendy Steiner (art historian), Toni Morrison (novelist), George Miller (psychologist), Háj Ross (linguist), and poets Ellen Hinsey, Kenneth Koch, W.H. Auden, Donald Hall, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Louis MacNeice, and Eavan Boland to show us that the study (and just plain reading!) of classical poetry can enrich our lives today!


     Dr. Becker has won several awards for teaching and undergraduate advising at Virginia Tech.  He has published a book on Homer’s Iliad, as well as articles on Plato, Vergil, ancient rhetoric, and several on the rhythm and meter of Latin poems.  He is president of the Classical Association of Virginia, and of the national organization called the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature.  He and his wife, Dr. Trudy Harrington Becker, also a Classicist, lead study-abroad courses to southern Switzerland and Rome in the summers.