I came, I saw, I conquered at the Parilia

Speakers, guests and professors from Union at this year’s annual Undergraduate Research Conference in Classics for Parilia, which celebrates Rome’s birthday on April 21. (Courtesy of Hans-Friedrich Mueller)

Rome celebrated its 2,768th birthday on April 21, but the city, which celebrates this special event with parades and fireworks, was not the only locale celebrating the day.

Union participates in an annual Undergraduate Research Conference in Classics for Parilia — a celebration of the founding of Rome — with Skidmore College, Hamilton College and Colgate University.

This year, Union hosted the conference at the Kelly Adirondack Center with the attendance of Hamilton College and Skidmore College Classics Departments’ professors and students.

“It is always pleasurably instructive to compare notes with colleagues in one’s discipline, and our colleagues in classics at Hamilton and Skidmore are an accomplished group. We compared notes on student research at our respective institutions as well as our own,” commented Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Thomas B. Lamont Professor of Ancient & Modern Literature and Chair of the Department of Classics.

The conference included three paper sessions, in which a student from each of the three colleges in attendance presented a research paper they were either currently working on or had finished.

“The range of the papers was wide. I learned many things from, for example, how 1960s Hollywood films tried to recreate ancient music in their soundtracks, to how ancient Romans anticipated some of the financial instruments that we think of as characteristic of Wall Street today. Students also used the ancient Greek symposium (or drinking party) as way to understand and critique contemporary fraternity culture. I was impressed time and again at how students use their study of the past to understand their own world,” Mueller commented.

Ian James Walters ’15, Cydnee Raynell Somera ’15 and Julie Christine Warren ’15 presented their research topics at the conference. Each presentation was about 20 minutes long and questions were asked at the end of each presentation.

Warren discussed her project at the conference: “My project is a two-part creative thesis. In part one, I translated two poems from Ovid’s “Heroides,” which is a collection of elegiac poems — really letters — written from the perspective of women in mythology to their male lovers. In part two, I’m writing two letters in Latin as the corresponding male perspective. Essentially, I’ve translated love letters from women who have both been betrayed by the same man, and then I’m writing two ‘Dear Jane’ letters back to the women from that man’s point of view. It is a creative interpretation and experiment with gender writing.”

The paper sessions, like Warren’s, allowed for a creative and interesting topic to be explored and displayed to peers and professors within the discipline. This opportunity was exciting for many.

“Before the presentation, I was really nervous because I was not only representing myself, but also representing Union. During the presentation, the nerves went away and I enjoyed sharing my thesis. In the end, it was a great experience and I’m glad I was picked by the department to present,” Somera explained.

Somera’s presentation was about how the archeological evidence at Halmyris reflects the decline of the Roman Empire, which is also her senior thesis.

Professor Stacie Raucci expressed that the conference offers a unique and inspirational opportunity to classics majors, as well as people who enjoy the classics academic field.

“Parilia is a wonderful opportunity for faculty and students to gather for a day of exciting presentations and conversation. I always enjoy hearing about the creative and innovative work of students from Union and other colleges. My favorite part is seeing students come together from different classics communities for a shared experience,” she stated.


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