University of Pittsburgh



The Department of Classics focuses on the interpretation of the culture and society of Greco-Roman antiquity in the widest sense of those terms. Learn more about us.

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Eta Sigma Phi

Learn more about the Classics honorary society for students of Latin and/or Greek.
Dr. Harry Avery is the faculty advisor for Eta Sigma Phi. We sincerely thank him for all the years of guidance and wisdom he has generously given.


Program in Classics, Philosophy, and Ancient Science

This graduate program is joinly offered by the departments of Classics, Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science.  Learn more about the Program in Classics, Philosophy, and Ancient Science (CPAS).


Archaeological Institute of America, Pittsburgh Chapter

Dr. John Newell is President of the Pittsburgh Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The University is host to several yearly lectures of international scholars. Read about forthcoming lectures here.




CONGRATULATIONS to John Scanlon on the successful defense of his dissertation "Generic enrichment, Reader Expectation, and Matapoetic Treesin Horace's Odes" on March 25, 2014.  Members of his committee were Dr. Mae Smethurst, Dr. Edwin Floyd, Dr. Dennis Looney and Dr. D. Mark Possanza.





Medieval Latin Reading Group (Spring 2014)

Dr. Bruce Venarde (bvenarde@pitt.edu) will convene the meetings this semester.

Over the past year, the Medieval Latin Reading Group has become a site of energy and community for medievalists and Latinists at Pitt and the larger community. Last year's group had faculty from a few surrounding regional colleges, an independent scholar, a high school Latin teacher, and an emerita professor from Penn State, in addition to Pitt faculty, grad students, and the occasional undergrad. So the group is not only interdisciplinary, but also interprofessional and multigenerational.

The group also represents a wide range of Latin competency, from my co-leader Bruce Venarde, the editor and translator of the Dumbarton Oaks edition of Benedict's Rule, to Ph.D. students in their first year of undergrad Latin and rusty professors. We are a very supportive group, with a no-shame ethos. We spend the first hour of every fortnightly meeting on assigned, prepared passages (however much you feel comfortable preparing), and the second hour sight-reading, for those who feel comfortable with it. 

This semester the MLRG is generously sponsored by the Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Humanities Center. 

Those interested in more information can contact Ryan McDermott, Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature and Culture in the Dept. of English at mcdermott.pitt.@gmail.com.


CONGRATULATIONS - To Nicholas R. Thorne, who successfully defended his dissertation "The Unity of the Gorgias" on July 2, 2013.  Members of his committee are Dr. James Allen, Dr. James Lennox, Dr. Dennis Looney and Dr. Mae Smethurst.


Benjamin Haller, (PhD, Classics, 2007) recently received tenure at Virginia Wesleyan University.  Dr. Haller is the Batten Associate Professor of Classics.


Best Wishes to Professor H. P. Stahl, Mellon Professor of Classics, who retired from the University after many years of scolarship, service and teaching. Thank you Dr. Stahl, nulli secundus.  During your many years of teaching you have instilled upon your students to respice, adspice, prospice.  We wish you well in all your future endeavors.



To Joseph Tipton upon the successful defense of his dissertation "An Aristocracy of Virtue: The Protagorean Background to the Periclean Funeral Speech in Thucydides" which took place on May 29, 2013.

Joseph Tipton and Dr. Harry Avery, his major advisor.  Committee of Dr. D. Mark Possanza, Dr. James V. Allen, Joseph Tipton, Dr. Harry C. Avery and Dr. Nicholas F. Jones


Congratulations to Dr. Mae J. Smethurst, Professor Emerita on her book "Dramatic Action in Greek Tragedy and Noh: Reading with and beyond Aristotle" Interdisciplinary Approaches Series Editor, Gregory Nagy, Harvard University (Lexington Books  2013).




To Jerry Heverly upon the successful defense of his dissertation, "Neglected Warnings in the Iliad: A Study in Characterization" which took place on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Committee chair and major advisor, Dr. Edwin D. Floyd, Jerry Heverly, Dr. Mae J. Smethurst, and Dr. Andrew M. Miller, Professor Emeritus.  Dr. Dennis O. Looney, also on the committee was present via skype and is not pictured.


Edwin D. Floyd has mentored two undergraduate students in their research through the Office of Experential Learning.

Andrew Tyler Lucas conducted his research titled "Veiled Criticism in Vergil" Damilola O. Akapo completed her research project titled "Analysis of Political Subtext in the Aeneid."

The Office of Experiential Learning connects Arts and Sciences undergraduates with opportunities to earn credits outside the classroom by engaging in internships, research, and teaching. It places students in “hands-on” activities that are tied to current coursework, and encourages them to reflect on and analyze their experiences in an academic context.


Classics Majors- There is now a Career Consultant for Classics to help you with career info and internship possibilities.  Contact Heidi McFerron with Career Development in Room 200 of the William Pitt Union.  Her email is hem27@pitt.edu.



To Christopher J. Kurfess upon the successful defense of his dissertation, "The Reconstruction of the Fragments of Parmenides' Poem" which took place on Thursday, November 8, 2012.

Committee members Dr. John Poulakos, Christopher Kurfess, Committee Chair and major advisor, Dr. Edwin D. Floyd, Dr. Mae J. Smethurst, and Dr. Andrew M. Miller, Professor Emeritus who attended via skype.


You can now "Like" us on Facebook!

The University of Pittsburgh Department of Classics now has a Facebook page.


 Study Abroad has some interesting information for Classics majors and the opportunities that exist to enhance their interest in learning and culture. Learn more about the study abroad opportunities for students in Classics. You may also stop by the department for a study abroad brochure.
New this past summer- Pitt in Greece Program!  










Contact Elizabeth Conforti, our department administrator, for more information.

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Classics
1518 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
[P] 412-624-4493
[F] 412-624-4419

Lectures, Conferences and Symposia:


"Epic Identity and Homeric Authorship"  


    With only minimal facetiousness, various aspects of Homeric recognition can be paralleled in the process, in an electronic age, of convincing an ATM machine or the like that you are really you.  At Odyssey 19.183, for example, the pseudonym "Aithon" calls to mind one of Odysseus' maternal great-grandfathers, just one generation further back than "mother's maiden name", and  24.336-344 includes an array of numbers (13, 10, 40, 50) to go with the names of trees (i.e., there is a kind of "alphanumeric" identification).

    Particularly interesting is the fact that still other recognition tokens pretty obviously suggest an overall "Iliad + Odyssey" unity.  At Od. 19.247, for example, "Eurybates" picks up an Iliadic name that is not otherwise found in the Odyssey, and at 23.200-201, Odysseus' mention of crimson decoration on ivory crucially recalls Iliad 4.141-14  (cf. Floyd 2011 in College Literature, 38.2, pp. 142-146).  


Edwin D. Floyd, PhD
Professor of Classics
Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 4:00 PM
149 Cathedral of Learning








March 21-23, 2014-University of Pittsburgh


Along with traditional theatrical reinterpretations, recent adaptations of Classical subjects in television and film have continued to make ancient Greek and Roman culture accessible to today’s audiences, and scholarly interest in these representations of the ancient Greek and Roman world through modern performance media has grown considerably over the last decade. To build upon this dialogue on the reception of the Classical world in performance contexts, we would like to offer young scholars the opportunity to put Classics ‘in the spotlight’ along with experts in Classics, Theatre Arts and Film Studies.


Through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops we will approach modern representations of well-known figures and themes of antiquity from various perspectives: how authentic are the portrayals of individual figures and settings, and of the social and political environments? How are Classical characters or plotlines ‘reinterpreted’ in order to comply with – or challenge – specific social and cultural norms? Finally, how should performers and audiences approach modern representations of Classical culture?


Participants will have the unique opportunity to explore these questions by staging a short scene from a Classical play under the supervision of directors and actors experienced in the performance of ancient culture.




Keynote Address

DR. MARCIA LANDY, Distinguished Professor of English/Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Mae Smethurst, Emerita Professor of Classics, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Paul Woodruff, Professor of Philosophy and Classics, University of Texas
Dr. Pantelis Michelakis, Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Bristol
Dr. Konstantinos Nikoloutsos, Assistant Professor, Saint Joseph’s University


Conference Schedule

Conference Registration


An interdisciplinary conference organized by the Departments of Classics, Theatre Arts, & English/Film Studies, University of Pittsburgh








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The Department of Classics welcomes its newest faculty member, Dr. Christina Hoenig, Assistant Professor of Classics.  Dr. Hoenig comes from Cambridge University. 


“My research focuses on the Roman and Greek philosophical writers from the 1st century BC to Late Antiquity. One of my central themes of interest is the translation of Greek philosophical vocabulary into Latin. In the past, I have also worked on Hebrew-Latin biblical translation. The larger part of my current research concentrates on the Latin Platonic tradition, especially on topics in natural philosophy and epistemology, but I am also interested in the Greek commentators on Plato and Aristotle.”





conference/lecture news



An interdisciplinary conference for Graduate and Undergraduate students organized by the Departments of Classics, Theatre Arts, & English/Film Studies. March 21-23, 2014


Nicholas Thorne, graduate student, presented his paper “Thucydides i.32-45: Safety in Justice” at the Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of Canada, May 13-17, 2013.


Dr. Mae Smethurst presented a lecture, "A Meeting of Men's Book Club in Meiji Japan" for the Transforming Classics conference at Duke University, March 22-23, 2013.


Dr. Mae Smethurst presented a lecture at the Ohio State University "Action in Realistic Noh", February 19,  2013. 


Dr. Edwin Floyd presented his paper, "The Etymology and Early Use of Greek  Sophos ‘Wise’ " at the International Linguistic Association, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City, on November 10, 2012.










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