A Year In Italy, From Exams To Experiences

Paideia students in Rome.

It’s a liminal time for many folks right now, and what threshold we are passing is unclear. My liminality this year is spent living at home with my parents in Upstate New York, sending out Ph.D. applications, reading my readings, and teaching online or as a substitute in the local school district. I’ve learned to adjust to different rubrics, whether it’s putting a star on a first grader’s corrected spelling worksheet or covering the outlined syllabus of a Latin student’s upcoming exam. It’s sedentary and familiar.

Yet, in my dreams, I am in movement. Leaning over my seat at the…


A Retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice Story Set in the Bronx

Boy, has it been a while since I read a Young Adult novel. In the span of one Saturday afternoon, Lilliam Rivera sucked me into the world of Never Look Back, her Latinx retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. This summer romance, set in contemporary Bronx, alternates chapters between the perspectives of two protagonists, Pheus and Eury. …


A Classicist Reviews “Ovid and The Art of Love”

Many people do not know that we classicists study Publius Ovidius Naso, a Latin poet who, among other things, wrote a guide on the art of seduction. Starting on May 19, anyone with streaming services will fall in love with Corbin Bleu (of High School Musical fame) and his portrayal of this grand poet in Esmé von Hoffman’s Ovid and The Art of Love. If you are looking for a movie to escape from the problems of today, this is not the movie for you.

The plot is framed by the story of Jamal, a young schoolboy who spends the…


You’re Going to Suffer, So Suffer Like a Hero

This is probably taking the resentment a bit too far. (“Achilles Triumphant,” by Franz Matsch.)

Sing, O Muse, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilles at the devastation, the thousandfold pain, the bitter conflict of break ups!

We all know that Homer’s Iliad is about Achilles’ wrath, but have you ever read his wrath as that of a broken heart? If you think you can’t get over your significant other, find out how Achilles gets over the most significant of all significant others, Agamemnon! (The following translations are adapted from Richmond Lattimore.)

Name-calling

When it’s time to call it off, call ’em out with some epic epithets: “O wrapped in shamelessness, with your mind forever on profit,”…


The Testamentum Porcelli Is One of the Strangest Texts to Survive From Late Antiquity

Roman mosaic in the Vatican showing pig with truffles. (source)

“Come here, you home-wrecker, soil-uprooter, fugitive pig! Today, I end your life.”

“I ask, my Lord, I beg for my life! Grant a beggar’s wish!”

“Go on, boy. Get me a knife from the kitchen. I’m gonna make this pig bleed.”

No, this is not a snippet from a Quentin Tarantino gorefest flick now streaming on Netflix. This is a rather curious addition to Latin literature from the 4th century, the Testamentum Porcelli.

Edward Champlin, professor of Classics emeritus at Princeton University, claims that “the Testamentum Porcelli will never win great popularity as a work of literature, with its high…


Panel with tiger, 4th c CE, Found on the Esquiline hill — Basilica of Giunio Basso

Let’s preface this with a reminder that, for the most part, we all wish to be healthy and happy, so let us acknowledge that we want to be healthy and happy, let us acknowledge that the people around us want to be healthy and happy, and heck, let’s wish ourselves and others health and happiness!

There are some different ideas of how to achieve those states of being. Diet is a big part of health, and unfortunately, there is no current consensus of what the best, or even a decent, diet is. There are growing, stark, extremes, one side outlawing…


If I am ever visiting New York City, as I was this past December, I try to stop by at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). The curse of being a classicist is that I know exactly what part of the museum I will wander into, and still I fail to leave feeling like I have seen all that I wanted.

The secret to a good museum visit, I found, is to stick to a small corner of an exhibit and really explore a juicy question.

Because I tend to the side of language and literature, asking legitimate archaeological/material studies…


A Way To Visualize Centuries, For Teachers and Other Tourguides

Sensory homunculus in toga (illustrations by the author)

Have you ever been at a party where you step out for two seconds, the house suddenly crashes down on all those still inside, and you have to use your memory to recall the seating positions of all party-goers to help identify the deceased? Hopefully this is an experience unique to Simonides alone (De Orat. 2.353). However, I bet we can still relate to Simonides’ subsequent ideas of perception, as Antonius describes them in Cicero’s De Oratore (2.357/8; translations are my own):

ea maxime animis effingi nostris quae essent a sensu tradita atque impressa; acerrimum autem ex omnibus nostris sensibus…


Situated between Sicily and Calabria is a body of water that carries murmurs of mythological monsters. Over three thousand years ago, the Strait of Messina was avoided at all costs by sailors who dared not face the six-headed, cave-dwelling, blood-thirsty Scylla on the Italian side, and the all-consuming whirlpool, personified as Charybdis on the Sicilian side. So the story goes.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus led his crew to sail through this narrow route and the men suffered the consequences. Odysseus recalls:

ἡμεῖς μὲν στεινωπὸν ἀνεπλέομεν γοόωντες:

ἔνθεν μὲν Σκύλλη, ἑτέρωθι δὲ δῖα Χάρυβδις

δεινὸν ἀνερροίβδησε θαλάσσης ἁλμυρὸν ὕδωρ.

ἦ τοι…


In his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari states, “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.”

I have been a student and employee of the Paideia Institute for the past four years. There’s a certain story in my head when I think of the word, “Paideia.” That story was t-boned when I read Sportula’s Statement on the Paideia Institute. Shock turned to self-doubt (“was I blind?”) to a heavy sadness and to rising panic. I am not writing to deny the unsolved issues that these…

Luby Kiriakidi

caution: Greek and Latin wordplay at play

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