This coming week, May 14-18, Lawrence will commemorate the glory of ancient Greece and Rome by showcasing five speakers who will present on their recent studies in the classics.As it has in the past, Classics Week will feature a guest speaker. On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Wriston auditorium, William E. Metcalf will discuss Lawrence’s collection of ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coins. Metcalf, a former curator of the American Numismatic Society, is one of the country’s foremost experts on ancient coins and medallions.
Unlike previous years, Classics Week will present a number of Lawrence students who will speak on an array of topics. This difference reflects the current strength of this year’s classics department. Not since the 1920s has Lawrence graduated six senior classics majors. All of them will give presentations this week.
Daniel Taylor, the Hiram A. Jones Professor of Classics, hopes that in the future students will continue to present most of the Classics Week lectures. In the past, the speakers traditionally have been Lawrence faculty. The original Classics Week began by chance when a number of Lawrence faculty were asked to give lectures and the whole event centered on a guest speaker.
Since that first event, Classics Week has occurred sporadically in years when it was possible to schedule the event. Now that the classics department has grown, Taylor would like Classics Week to happen annually.
The lectures this year include presentations on artistic representations of Hercules, different styles of manuscript writing, ancient Roman baths in England, and Latin readings of riddles and Dr. Seuss. To open the week, Lawrence seniors Sylvia Zwissler and Jenny Benjamin will speak on Herculean art from throughout the ages.
Several of the presentations involve research conducted abroad. On Thursday, Senior David Rees will be looking at Latin inscriptions which he copied and began analyzing while studying in Florence last year. To decipher the text, Rees had to wade through hundreds of years of erosion and daunting abbreviations. He and senior Heather Nabbefeld have combined their independent research to compare the styles of these inscriptions with medieval manuscripts.
Sophomore Sean Smith will present on his project that he completed with the help of the Wriston Scholarship. Last summer, Smith traveled to England While there, he took over 400 slides of ancient Roman ruins. On Wedensday, he will present on four types of Roman baths from the early centuries A.D.
To conclude the week, the Latin readings were scheduled as a bit of a lark. Still, they also reflect the recent resurgence of interest in speaking Latin. Senior Amy Haegele will present her Latin translation of Dr. Seuss, while freshmen Kelly Jones and Julie Beien will read from Aenigmata Latina.
On Monday morning at 11:05, President Warch will officially proclaim Classics Week open from the steps of his office. He and the students involved will reaffirm Lawrence’s commitment to the study of the classics.