Jim O’Hara named President-elect of the Vergilian Society

Jim O’Hara, George L. Paddison Professor of Latin at UNC, has been named President-elect of the Vergilian Society, and will serve in that position for a year before taking over as President for 2017-2019.

The Vergilian Society, founded in 1937 “to celebrate the ties of culture between Italy and America,” is devoted to the study of Roman poet Vergil and his world.  It sponsors conferences and study programs on Vergil, his influence, and the history and archaeology of his world, and publishes a scholarly journal.


The Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, in Cuma, Italy

The Society runs Classical Summer School study programs and tours, either at the Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, in Cuma, Italy (at the northwestern corner of the Bay of Naples, near where Vergil’s hero Aeneas met the Sibyl, and began his descent to the underworld), or at sites throughout the Mediterranean.  The Society runs a conference at the Villa on topics related to Vergil in the summer, the Symposium Cumanum.  More recently, the group has introduced the Fall Symposium Campanum on “the history, archaeology, art and architecture, and geology of Italy and Sicily.”  The Wilks Study Center at the Villa, which includes guest rooms and conference facilities including a kitchen, is also available to visiting scholars or groups.

The society’s journal, Vergilius, has been published since 1959.  The Society sponsors a panel at the January meeting of the Society for Classical Studies, and a translation contest for high school students.

Jim has been a member of the Vergilian Society his whole career.  He has published articles and reviews in Vergilius, and refereed manuscripts submitted for publication.  He has been a member of the Board of Trustees, the editorial board of Vergilius, and the McKay book prize committee.  In the summer of 2015, Jim gave a paper on “Prophecy in the Aeneid Revisited:  Lying, Exaggeration and Encomium in Aeneid 8 and the Shield of Aeneas,” in a Symposium Cumanum on the topic of “Revisiting Vergil and Roman Religion.”  In January of 2016, Jim was the respondent to the Vergilian Society panel at the Society for Classical Studies meeting in San Francisco.


View from the Villa Vergiliana of the half-excavated amphitheater

Professor of Classics emeritus George Houston was president of the Vergilian Society in 1979-80.

Cicek Beeby awarded two grants for cemeteries study

Cicek Beeby has been awarded two UNC grants that will support her research as she launches her dissertation work on the organization and distribution of cemeteries across Greek settlements in the Geometric period.

The first grant is the Pre-Dissertation Travel Award from the Center for Global Initiatives (CGI)—this award is designed to help PhD candidates conduct preliminary research in preparation for writing a dissertation proposal. Cicek will use the funds to travel to Greece in August and select case studies for her dissertation.

The second award is the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (CDHI) Graduate Fellowship for 2015-2016. This fellowship will assist Cicek in navigating the digital components of her dissertation. In the fall, she plans on creating social network models of how people are connected to each other through cemeteries. In the spring, she hopes to translate these network models into spatial distribution patterns using Geometric Athens as a test case. The fellowship provides funds for research and professional development during the academic year and concludes with a summer stipend for summer 2016.

Congratulations to scholarship winners!

The department is pleased to announce recipients of the Eunice and Luther Nims Scholarship, the Herington Scholarship, and the Preston H. and Miriam L. Epps Prize in Greek Studies. We congratulate these students for their terrific academic achievements!

Nims Scholarship winners

The Nims Scholarship provides junior and seniors in the department with funding for tuition, room, board, and fees for study at UNC or abroad.

  • Austin Glock Andrews, Classical Archaeology and Religious Studies, to participate in the Huqoq excavation
  • Allison G. Ditmore, Classics, to participate in the Azoria Project
  • Abigail Laurin Dupree, Classical Archaeology; to participate in the Azoria Project
  • Amanda Marie Kubic, Classical Civilization; for the College Year in Athens Summer Program
  • Jaboa M. Little, Classical Civilization; for the College year in Athens Summer Program
  • Jake Rohde, Classics and Philosophy; for the Oxford Program Study Abroad
  • Philip Murray Wilson, Classics and History; for Intensive Greek at University of Pennsylvania

Herington Scholarship winner

The Herington Prize is awarded to a first-year, sophomore, or junior major or minor who the faculty deem to be among the best students of Greek.

  • Jaboa Little

Epps Prize winner

The Epps Prize is given to the student who “shows the greatest interest and promise in coming to understand the Greek language, literature, history, and outlook.”

  • Drew Cabaniss


Haggis headed to ASCSA, 2015-2016

Donald Haggis was appointed Elizabeth A. Whitehead Visiting Professor at the American School of Classical Studies  in Athens (ASCSA), for the academic year 2015-2016, by vote of the Managing Committee of the School in January at the Annual Meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America in New Orleans. Haggis will be one of two visiting faculty members in residence at the ASCSA next year, conducting research and occasional seminars.

Founded in 1881, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), providing graduate students and scholars from North American colleges and universities a base for research, fieldwork, and advanced study in Greek archaeology. UNC has been a member institution of the ASCSA for the better part of a century.

From classroom to conference

In fall 2013, Robert Babcock presented his Latin paleography graduate students with a challenge. He asked three of his students to determine the origins of a collection of over fifty eleventh-century manuscripts from the Belgian Royal Library. This neglected area of research would entail painstakingly analyzing the script, the corrections, and the marginalia of the hand-scribed documents to determine whether or not they were originally copied at the Gembloux abbey. Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich accepted the challenge and altered the way scholars understand this important collection. By identifying the origins of the manuscripts, Begley, Beeby, and Penich placed these texts in their rightful context, and went on to share their groundbreaking findings at a paleographic conference.

The valued collection of manuscripts came to Brussels in the eighteenth century from the nearby abbey of Gembloux, and contain several classical, patristic, and medieval texts, including Cicero, Lucan, Manilius, and Ovid. While textual scholars have long treasured the contents of the documents, the context of the creation of the manuscripts remained unknown. Paleographers were uncertain whether or not the manuscripts had originally been copied at the abbey or had been acquired by the abbey from elsewhere.

Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich (front, l-r), presented their work from Bob Babcock's Latin paleography class at the Texts and Contexts conference. Prof. Babcock (back) chaired the students' discussion of the origins of eleventh-century manuscripts from Gembloux, a Belgian abbey.

Will Begley, John Beeby, and Keith Penich (front, l-r), presented their work from Bob Babcock’s Latin paleography class at the Texts and Contexts conference. Prof. Babcock (back) chaired the students’ discussion of the origins of eleventh-century manuscripts from Gembloux, a Belgian abbey.

This is where Begley, Beeby, and Penich stepped in to assist Prof. Babcock and his Belgian colleague, Albert Derolez, with their comprehensive study of the collection.

The three each focused on a different aspect of the manuscripts — the script, the corrections, and the critical signs — to determine that the manuscripts did originate with the abbey. Deciphering the script, Penich analyzed the eleventh-century copy of Statius’ Thebaid and Achilleid. He compared the scribal hands of the collection to determine that the scribal hand of the Statius works matched that of one belonging to the abbey. Next, Beeby compared the scribal and correcting hands of Valerius Maximus to other manuscripts from Gembloux, finding that both hands were evident in many different Gembloux texts. Finally, Begley examined the system of critical signs, or marginalia, used in the Gembloux scriptorium in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Examining primarily Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations, he revealed how the Tusculans and other texts were read and understood by the Gembloux community.

Begley, Beeby, and Penich then translated their final papers for the course into a panel discussion at the Text and Contexts November 2014 conference at The Ohio State University. There, the academic community took note of their laborious study.

“The papers were brilliant. The manuscripts are all of prime importance for the editor of these texts, and each man had something new to say about his own,” exclaimed the conference’s keynote speaker, Francis Newton, PhD ’53, in an email after the conference.

“The UNC panel was widely described as one of the highlights of the conference,” Prof. Babcock, who chaired the session, reflected. “Our graduate students were praised for the quality, originality, and importance of their work, as well as for the clarity and organization of their presentations.”

“To me, a long-time student of Latin manuscripts and texts, it was fascinating and ground-breaking. The audience felt the same way,” continued Prof. Newton. “The presentation was professional, though I am happy to report that each also, at some point, let us see how enthusiastic he was about his project and his finds.”

Winners of poetry competition announced

We are happy to announce the winners of this year’s Herington Prizes. Among undergraduate readers, Philip Wilson took home the prize for Latin and Emily Fleming for Greek. Each won a $250 prize. Winning a rare book donated by Sara Mack, Brian McPhee presented the best graduate reading.

The annual Herington competition has been held since Maynard and Florence Mack created an endowment for the competition in 1999. Named in honor of John Herington, Prof. Mack’s husband, the undergraduate prize is intended to encourage the performance of poetry and is open to all majors taking Greek or Latin coursework at UNC.

New Phi Beta Kappa members

Classics majors Drew Cabaniss and David Ortiz have officially joined Phi Beta Kappa. They join Alex Karsten, who was inducted in fall 2013.

To be eligible for induction into the nation’s oldest honor society, an undergraduate must have completed 75 hours of course with a GPA of 3.85 or better or 105 hours of course work with a GPA of 3.75. The Alpha of North Carolina order was founded in 1904 and is one of the oldest in the state.

We congratulate both students on this remarkable achievement.

Weiberg wins fellowship from American School



Graduate student Erika Weiberg has been awarded the Bert Hodge Hill Fellowship from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She will attend the Regular Program of the school as a Regular Student Member next year.

“Study at the ASCSA will help me integrate the material evidence offered by Greek art and epigraphy with literary analysis of texts so that we can better understand one aspect of women’s lives in ancient Greece,” Weiberg explained. Her dissertation will focus on the depiction of the traumatic effects of war on wives of returning veterans in Greek tragedy.

Weiberg becomes the third fellow from the department to join the school in the past three years. Currently Hans Hansen and Rebecca Worsham are participating in the school now.

The department’s ties to the school extend back to Eben Alexander, who formed early ties with the school during his early years as a faculty member in the department. The department’s relationship to the school was formalized when J.P. Harland was appointed as a faculty member in 1922 and our graduate program was founded. Since then, many members of the faculty have maintained our ties to the school: Henry Immerwahr was director for many years; Mary Sturgeon was a senior member, a member of the Corinth Excavations, a Whitehead Professor, and chair of the Managing Committee; and Ken Sams has long served as a voting member of the school’s Managing Committee. Donald Haggis’s archaeological site, the Azoria Project, also excavates under a permit from the school.

Earlier in the year, Weiberg also received special departmental recognition, wining the Preston H. and Miriam L. Epps Prize in Greek Studies for 2014.



UNC-Duke graduate students host workshop on pedagogy

This year the graduate students in Classics at Duke University and UNC are collaborating to organize the Inaugural Duke-UNC Graduate Workshop in Classics Pedagogy, which will take place the weekend of March 28-30, 2014. The workshop addresses an expressed interest among the graduate students in both departments in a wider conversation on pedagogy and its important role in their careers as PhD students and soon-to-be faculty members.

The organizing students received a Kenan-Biddle Partnership Grant to help fund the workshop, and are inviting three professors – Prof. Nita Krevans from the University of Minnesota, Prof. Andrea Berlin from Boston University, and Prof. Joan Connelly from NYU – to speak on pedagogy issues and to teach pedagogy workshops during the weekend.

More information can be found at the website for the event.

Colloquium schedule

Azoria Project accepting volunteer applications

Donald Haggis’s Azoria Project is now accepting volunteer applications for its summer 2014 field school. Applications are due April 1, and may be accessed through the Azoria website.

The Azoria Project has received international acclaim for its innovative Archaeological practices, winning the Archaeological Institute of America’s award for Best Site practices and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Co-directers Donald Haggis and Margaret Mook are lauded for simultaneously excavating and preserving the Early Iron Age-Archaic site on the island of Crete. They involve and educate locals in creating an eco-archaeological tourist site.

This is an opportunity for students to gain archaeological experience in the field and to culturally immerse themselves in the Greek culture. Volunteers will live alongside locals in Pacheia Ammos and Kavousi, two villages near the site, and work with students and locals at the site.