Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Going Ancient Greek

This year, more University of Wisconsin students than ever are geeking out over going Greek and occasionally donning a toga.

No, they are not joining sororities or fraternities; they are joining Classics Society.

Classics Society started as a student organization geared almost exclusively toward classics and classical humanities majors, who study the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Middle East.


Now, the group is widening its scope in hopes of drawing anyone and everyone with an affinity for the ancient.

“I consider this our first year in terms of trying to get a lot of people involved,” said Sean Miller, Classics Society president.

Members of the UW faculty in the classics department see the organization as an opportunity for both majors and non-majors.

“The department itself serves a lot of students who aren’t majors but are interested in the ancient world,” said Jeff Beneker, assistant professor in the classics department. “This gives them another outlet to continue their interest without having to go all the way and declare a major.”

Although the subject is history, Classics Society has found ways of making ancient topics relevant to today and relatable to the larger student body. Earlier this semester, the group hosted University of Pennsylvania professor Ralph Rosen, who spoke on a very modern-day connection.

“He talked about ancient satire and hip-hop,” Miller said. “[He] compared the Latin satire to Eminem and Snoop Dogg.”

Next semester, the organization will bring in an academic Cleopatra expert to speak on the ancient Egyptian woman’s presence in popular culture. Miller said it’s an event the Classics Society hopes to make a campuswide event.

“People who are in the art world might be intrigued, or people in advertising would be interested to see how Cleopatra was used in popular art,” Miller said. “Essentially, it doesn’t matter which major you are, if you like [for example] Roman gladiators, then this is the club for you.”

Although the group welcomes non-majors, the group remains an effective networking tool for students.

“One of the things I’ve seen is that our majors in classics have really grown,” Beneker said. “We have about 85 majors or so. The Classics Society provides them with sort of a little community where they can interact with each other outside of class.”

First-year member and sophomore Katie Anstett-Dekker said she joined the group, “mainly just to see what other people were going to do with their classics degree.”

Through Classics Society events, Anstett-Dekker said she has learned of many options for graduates within the major.

“Some people go to law school, because Latin is really good for law,” Anstett-Dekker said. “I’ll probably just become a professor and go on archeological digs in the summer.”

Miller said he thinks the group provides a unique way for students to connect with each other and professors.

“I think that is a beneficial aspect of our club,” Miller said. “So that when you have classes together, you know someone. I don’t think that is necessarily provided anywhere else for ancient enthusiasts.”

But the society is not strictly concerned with academic study. When not listening to speakers, the members occasionally grab their togas and gather for symposiums, party-like events that pay homage to ancient Greek revelry. Earlier in the semester, they gathered to watch Disney’s “Hercules.”

Miller said events like this are a testament to the closeness of the group.

“Everyone’s really enthusiastic,” Miller said. “[I could say] ‘What movie should we watch? Let’s watch Disney’s ‘”Hercules!”‘ And everyone says, ‘Yes. That is brilliant.'”

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