Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics


Ancient Athens was preeminent because of her naval power, and with the navy’s might came the prestige of her harbor city the Piraeus, where naval bases housed hundreds of triremes. The architectural glories of the Acropolis stood in second place to her naval bases, and as an unnamed Athenian author proclaimed, “O Athens, queen of all cities! How fair your naval base! How fair your Parthenon! How fair your Piraeus!”

In his lecture, The Ancient Athenian Naval Bases in the Piraeus – The Backbone of the World’s First Democracy, Professor Bjørn Lovén will explore how the ten-year Zea Harbor Project, digging on land and underwater from 2002 to 2012, uncovered extensive archaeological remains of the Athenian naval facilities. The lecture will show how the archaeological finds inform us about developments from the dawn of Athenian power in the late 6th and early 5th centuries BC, to the young democracy at the time of the Persian Wars, to the age of empire when Athens ruled the eastern Mediterranean, and to the waning years of the 4th century BC when Athens stood in the shadow of Macedonia.

Professor Bjørn Lovén is a Research Associate with the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, and is an expert in the archaeology of ancient harbors and submerged sites; he is the Director of the Zea Harbor Project at ancient Piraeus in Greece, Co-Director of the Lechaion Harbor Project in Corinth, Greece, and has done extensive fieldwork at underwater and harbor sites around the Mediterranean.
The Zea Harbor Project is a collaboration between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Ephorate of West Attica, Piraeus and Islands (both under the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports), the Saxo Institute, the University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Institute at Athens under the Danish Ministry of Education; it is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

The lecture will take place at Blegen Building Room 308, on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. It will begin at 6:00 PM, and is free and open to the public. It is part of the Archaeological Institute of America’s National Lecture Program, and funding for it has been provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York, which strives to support the work of scholars in the fields of ancient art.

A full size pdf version of the announcement poster can be downloaded here.

breyer barendt

Katie Breyer and Jack Barendt are undergraduate students in Classics. Jack is also a Semple Scholar. The recently reported on their year abroad at the Centro in Rome:

While our studies at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (the “Centro”) are based in Rome, our classes and experiences are not limited to the city itself. As students of the Classics, we have gained the opportunity to put what we have learned from the University of Cincinnati’s Classics Department into a more tangible context. One of the most exciting aspects of the program is that classes are held on site, allowing us to reconstruct the ancient city through frequent site visits, such as to the Imperial Fora, the Curia in the Roman Forum, and the halls of Nero’s infamous Domus Aurea. And yet, we are not limited to Rome, visiting sites around the Bay of Naples, as well as Sicily, such as Pompeii, Cumae, Syracuse, and Agrigento.

We came from the University of Cincinnati with a wide range of experiences and skills and interests; from the archaeological and material to the language and history of Rome. The Classics department provided us with the foundations we needed to in order to more fully engage with the currriculum at the Centro. The Centro has allowed us to expand upon what we already knew as well as challenged us to examine the Roman world through a closer perspective. Our experience at the Centro has made us eager to return to the department and more fully engage in our classes. We will bring different perspectives into the classroom and enagage the younger students with an interest in understanding the Roman world. We are incredibly grateful for all that the Classics Department has done for us, allowing us to enjoy such an enriching experience and promoting our studies of the Classics.


Classics congratulates alumnus Tom Tsuchiya (Class Civ ’95) who won the 2016 Arts & Sciences Distinguish Alumni award. Tom is a sculptor with roots in the humanistic traditions of ancient Greece and Rome. In Cincinnati he is famous for his portraits of Cincinnati Reds baseball players in front of Great American Ballpark. In these bronze sculptures, he captures the personality and character of his subjects, often spending time getting to know them before starting a design. He is now the official sculptor of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, responsible for the plaques with relief portraits dedicated to honor inductees. In every case his aim is to reflect the character and achievements of his subjects, their ethos and pathos, concepts he learned here, in the Blegen Library.

Tom also runs an environmentally responsible studio and gives back to the community. His “Atlas Recycled” sculpture emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship for the future of our planet. Like Atlas, we hold the Earth in our hands. Young apprentices from Boys Hope/Girls Hope often help out in his studio, and gleaming metallic commission doubles as a receptacle for donated canned goods.

“Atlas Recycled” will soon be installed in the lobby of Blegen Library. Stay tuned for updates and an opening celebration.

Ginsberg StagingMemory

Lauren Donovan Ginsberg’s wider research focuses on the intersection of drama, politics, and memory in early Imperial Rome. All of these interests contributed to her new book: Staging Memory, Staging Strife: Empire and Civil War in the Octavia out from Oxford University Press this December. This book focuses on a play named after Nero’s wife, Octavia, which happens to be the sole surviving history play from ancient Rome. The Octavia dramatizes the notorious age of Nero, the emperor’s murder of his first wife, and the events that led to his fall from power. At the core of her book is a question of the role that literature, and especially drama, plays in the way that we remember the past.

The turbulent decade of the 60s CE brought Rome to the brink of collapse. It began with Nero's ruthless elimination of Julio-Claudian rivals and ended in his suicide and the civil wars that followed. Suddenly Rome was forced to confront an imperial future as bloody as its Republican past and a ruler from outside the house of Caesar. The anonymous historical drama Octavia is the earliest literary witness to this era of uncertainty and upheaval. In Staging Memory, Staging Strife, Ginsberg offers a new reading of how the play intervenes in the contests over memory after Nero's fall. Though Augustus and his heirs had claimed that the Principate solved Rome's curse of civil war, the play reimagines early imperial Rome as a landscape of civil strife with a ruling family waging war both on itself and on its people. In doing so, the Octavia shows how easily empire becomes a breeding ground for the passions of discord.

In order to rewrite the history of Rome's first imperial dynasty, the Octavia engages with the literature of Julio-Claudian Rome, using the words of Rome's most celebrated authors to stage a new reading of that era and its ruling family. In doing so, the play opens a dialogue about literary versions of history and about the legitimacy of those historical accounts. Through an innovative combination of intertextual analysis and cultural memory theory, Ginsberg contextualizes the roles that literature and the literary manipulation of memory play in negotiating the transition between the Julio-Claudian and Flavian regimes. Her book claims for the Octavia a central role in current debates over both the ways in which Nero and his family were remembered as well as the politics of literary and cultural memory in the early Roman empire.

Hollywood and modern pop culture often view Nero as the evilest of Rome’s evils. Recent scholarship, however, has begun to question the basis of this image: what sources do we have for it? In whose interest was it that Nero be remembered as a monster? This book takes these questions back to their beginning by examining how Roman drama and the stage reinterpreted Neronian history for a world without Nero.


Another issue of the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists has just appeared at Cincinnati. It is a volume of over 450 pages, with text editions and essays as well as shorter notes and reviews on a great variety of topics having to do with Greco-Roman Egypt. Highlights are two articles presenting Greek papyri from the earliest Roman period. One edits four poll tax receipts, which add substantially to what we know about taxation in early Roman Egypt. The other edits four labor contracts, two for a girl under the age of ten, who will feed olives into an oil press and do other chores as needed by her employer. There are very few texts that are as explicit about child labor in antiquity.

Peter van Minnen has been editor-in-chief of this international journal since 2006. Many graduate students at Cincinnati, in summer institutes, and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens have publishing their first articles in BASP, some assisting van Minnen in the production of the journal.

Eleven papers and one colloquium will be presented at this season's Society of Classical Studies and Archaeological Institute of America's combined conference in San Francisco, CA.


Lauren Ginsberg
“The Failure of Fides in the Octavia”

Antonis Kotsonas
“Early Iron Age Knossos and the Development of the City of the Historical Period”

Kathleen Lynch
“Not Sloppy but Hasty: Late Athenian Black-Figure”

Doctoral Students

Simone Agrimonti
"Xenophon and the unequal phalanx: a 4th century view on political egalitarianism”

Mohammed Bhatti
"Violating the City: Plutarch’s Use of Religious Landscape in the Life of Sulla”
Taylor Coughlan
"Dialect and Poetic Self-Fashioning in Hellenistic Book Epigram"

Flint Dibble
“The Chaîne-Opératoire of Professional Butchery in the Archaic to Classical Athenian Agora: Changing Foodways in an Urban Context”

Alison Fields
“The Purpose-Built Workspaces of the Classical Agora and Scales of Urban Production”

Kyle Helms
"Making rhetoric Roman in the first preface of Cicero’s de Inventione (1.1–5)"

Alexandros Laftsidis
“Exploring the Beginning of the Kerameikos of Pella in the Hellenistic period: Evidence from a Deposit East of the Agora”

Bea Peruzzi
“Finding the Peucetians: Using Burial Practices to identify a South Italian Culture”

Colloquium organized by 
Emilia Oddo [UC] and Kostas Chalikias 
“Exploring a Terra Incognita: Recent Research on Bronze Age Habitation in the Southern Ierapetra Isthmus"



Step into the Sherie and Len Marek Family Gallery at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and you are greeted by faces from the past -- two rows of ancient sculptures from the ancient Mediterranean and Egypt. Visible through the doorway at the other end of the room, a larger than life marble lion crouches, ready to spring off a pedestal in the Millard F. Rogers Jr. Gallery. Here, you will find the oldest piece in the museum: a red and black clay vessel from ancient Egypt's Naqada culture, decorated with an incised Barbary sheep.

On October 3, 2015, the Cincinnati Art Museum opened two new permanent galleries to display their collections of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art. This undertaking was the product of collaboration between students and faculty from UC, especially graduate students from the Department of Classics, and the Curatorial and Learning & Interpretation departments at the CAM. The partnership re-established ties between the distinguished Classics community at UC and the CAM, a fixture of the greater Cincinnati area since 1886. The invitation to be part of the re-installation of the antiquities collections was presented to Professor Kathleen Lynch by Museum Director Cameron Kitchin in February 2015, and the immediate answer was an enthusiastic yes.

pylos insitu
Bronze mirror with ivory handle in situ.

This summer's excavations at Pylos, lead by Jack Davis and Shari Strocker, yielded an unlooted warror grave with a full burial and over 1400 grave goods. Read about it here from the UC Magazine's article: UC team discovers rare warrior tomb filled with bronze age wealth and weapons.

This is also covered in the New York Times article: A Warrior's Grave at Pylos, Greece, Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations.

If you wish to support the conservation and study of the Grave of the Griffin Warrior, clickhere and enter Friends of Pylos in the comment box.