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Each summer the Vergilian Society runs a symposium in Cuma, Italy at the Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, which stands about a half mile away from the “cave of the Sibyl” (and about a half hour or so from Naples).  In the Summer of 2017 the topic for the Symposium Cumanum was “Vergil & Elegy,” and was organized by Alison Keith of the University of Toronto and Micah Myers of Kenyon College.  The conference featured thirty-five papers by classicists from six countries, with one session hosted by the Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, and a visit to the Naples Art Museum, where much of the best art from Pompeii is preserved.

The symposium this year had unusually strong representation from current or former UNC Classicists.  Three Carolina faculty and four of our PhDs gave papers.

Jim O’Hara as President of the Vergilian Society opened the symposium by greeting and welcoming the group, which for the start of the event included representatives from the US Consulate in Naples and from the European Parliament, and several local mayors—all of whom who have long supported the efforts of the Vergilian Society.

Former students giving papers included John Miller of the University of Virginia, PhD 1978, “Ovid, Virgil, and the Hesiodic ‘Days;’” Hunter Gardner, University of South Carolina, PhD 2005,  “Elegiac Revaluations of the Golden Age: Saturn’s Exile in Vergil and Tibullus;” John Henkel of Georgetown College, PhD 2009, “The Elegiac Program of Eclogue 1;” and Christopher Polt of Boston College, PhD 2010, “Beach Bodies: Elegiac Violence in Tarchon’s Landing (Vergil Aeneid 10.290–307).”

Three current UNC faculty gave papers: Hérica Valladares, “Shepherding Elegy: Pastoral Lovers in Virgil and the House of Livia;” Jim O’Hara, “Genre, Gender, and the Etymology Behind the Phrase Lugentes Campi at Aeneid 6.441;” and Sharon James, “Putting the Women Back in Hell: Elegiac Visions of the Underworld after Aeneid 6.”

This coming summer’s symposium will be organized by Chris Polt and by Ted Gellar-Goad, PhD 2012, on the topic “rerum cognoscere causas: Learning in the Late Republic and the Augustan Age,” and will take place June 26–30, 2018.

The Vergilian Society was founded in 1937 “in order . . . to celebrate the ties of culture between Italy and America,” and has been using the Villa since 1952. The Society promotes the study of Vergil and his world through conferences such as the summer Symposium Cumanum and the newer October Symposium Campanum (aimed more at the study of history and material culture), through its journal Vergilius, through panels at the annual meeting of the Society for Classical Studies, and through its summer study tours, now in their 46th year.  Study tours take place either at and around the Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, or at other sites in Europe, and are open to students, teachers, or any interested adult.  Membership in the Society is open to anyone who is interested in the study of Vergil, and there are special student rates.  The Society’s website is, and there is a Facebook page.