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Photo by Kelley Bennett.

Ancient Studies Week is a blast from the past

UMBC transformed into the ancient world last week with guest speakers, readings of Homer and a performance of one of Aristophanes’ plays– all to celebrate the Ancient Studies department at UMBC.

The week kicked off with a lecture from Victoria Wohl, a classics professor at the University of Toronto. Her talk “Love, Life, and Classical Athens” was a joint venture between the Dresher Center, the Gender and Women’s Studies Department and the Ancient Studies department. Wohl’s lecture covered how Athenian law defined citizenship and what that meant for the people of the Polis. After exploring a case study from an Athenian court case, she compared the legal ideal of Athenian citizenship law to the lived reality, as represented through Eurypides’ Medea. The lecture was well attended, and the library gallery was packed with students and faculty.

Tuesday, the department had the “Homerathon,” a live reading of Homer’s Iliad that lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., beginning at the University Center plaza before transitioning, fittingly, to the forum outside the Performing Arts and Humanities Building. Students and faculty took turns reading passages as listeners gathered around.

Later in the week there was a performance of Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen, and the week rounded off with a scribe school on curse tablets from Molly Jones-Lewis, visiting lecturer in the Ancient Studies department.

The Ancient Studies department, which was one of the founding departments at UMBC, puts on the events of Ancient Studies week to share “a small slice of what we offer, to the Humanities in particular,” says Timothy Phin, a lecturer for the department. “It’s a chance for the UMBC Community as a whole to learn about our department and what we do here,” he adds.

Megan Woods, a fourth year ancient studies major who read during the Homerathon, enjoyed Wohl’s lecture. “It was actually really cool!” she says, admitting that even though she came initially for extra credit in a class, she found the lecture interesting.

Jo Rennich, a sophomore double-major in environmental science and ancient studies, attended some of the events  during the week. “The department is amazing, the professors are amazing,” she said. “[It’s the] most interesting department on campus!”

For more information about the Ancient Studies department on campus, take a look at their myUMBC page and check back for more events.

The events of the week are an effort by the department to inform campus about what Ancient Studies has to offer. Professors emphasize that while they study antiquity, the department is relevant to today.

Phin commented, “I hope students will recognize the richness of antiquity and the relevance of it.”