Classics gets its 15 minutes

Sue Spang

Last week, the Lawrence University Classics Department, in conjunction with the Lawrence University Philological Society, presented the 2006 installment of Classics Week, an annual weeklong celebration of classical studies at Lawrence.
Classics Week traditionally features the work of both students and faculty members, and seeks to reaffirm the presence and importance of the study of classical languages and history through a range of activities, both educational and entertaining.
The festivities officially opened with a Monday morning statement by President Beck; the short address, proclaimed from the steps of Sampson House, has become a staple of the week.
Tuesday evening, the 1953 film “Julius Caesar,” starring Marlon Brando as Marc Antony, was shown at the Wriston Auditorium. The adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, though not quite a portrait of historical accuracy, portrays the state of the Roman Republic and the reactions of heads of state to the assassination of Julius Caesar.
The events Wednesday and Thursday included a series of lectures. Senior Jennifer Nummerdor presented a talk called “Designing an Exhibit: Behind the Scenes of ‘Women of the Augusti,'” a discussion of her senior honors project, a Wriston Art Gallery exhibit. The exhibit focused upon Imperial Roman coins featuring women, drawn from the Ottilia Buerger Collection.
Additionally, junior classics major Sue Spang presented her work from a semester of Renaissance-era research at the Newberry Library of the Humanities in Chicago in a lecture titled “‘Exsurge, Domine!’ Classical Influences on 16th-Century Liturgical Censorship.” Spang’s talk focused upon censorship in Protestant Reformation-era Europe, and integrated aspects of both classical and modern censorship.
Hiram A. Jones Professor of Classics Dan Taylor, ’63, lectured on “How Not to Teach Latin: A Critique of Priscian’s Pedagogy” Thursday afternoon, an event well-attended by both Lawrence students and faculty and community members.
The week culminated Friday with a staged reading of Aristophanes’ comedy “Lysistrata,” an antiwar play in which the women of Greece cooperatively deprive the men of sex until the men consent to stop extensive war between the city-states.
The politically charged and often sexually risqu play was chosen, read and blocked by classics students, and was better attended than in any year in recent memory.
The week was a both successful reminder of the presence of classics on the Lawrence campus and a testament to the work and enthusiasm of the Lawrence classics department.