“Griffin Warrior”: Movie Night in the Classics Library, October 29!

World of the Griffin Warrior - Archaeology Magazine

Classics at the University of Cincinnati has again created a world sensation as seen on PBS, BBC, The Discovery Channel, and many more TV channels and numerous newspapers and magazines around the world, now also on the Smithsonian Channel!

For details, see flyer:


— The Smithsonian Cable Channel

“The Griffin Warrior Project has been excavating the area surrounding the Palace of Nestor since May of 2015

The project, which is sponsored by the University of Cincinnati and operates under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies, follows in the footsteps of Dr. Carl W. Blegen, the Cincinnati-based archaeologist who explored much of the Bay of Navarino region in the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, Blegen, along with his team and Greek counterpart, Dr. Konstantinos Kourouniotis, first discovered the Palace of Nestor, the most completely preserved Bronze Age palace on the Greek mainland. For fifteen seasons, Blegen, archaeologist Marion Rawson, and their team excavated the site, which proved to be a remarkably intact Mycenaean palace. Now, half a century after Blegen’s last season, a University of Cincinnati team has returned to the site to continue excavating.

The ongoing project’s most significant discovery has been the grave of the Griffin Warrior. The unlooted shaft grave contained dozens of intricate seal stones, hundreds of gold and bronze artifacts, and the remains of a prominent Mycenaean nobleman from around 1500 B.C. Its discovery was heralded in the press around the world as one of Greece’s most significant archaeological finds in decades.”

New PBS-BBC series 'Civilizations' spotlights Griffin Warrior sealstone artifact in season premiere, University of Cincinnati

The Classics Library is Haunted — We Have Proof!

It’s Halloween month, but this is real. The photo below of the Classics Library’s book stacks was taken by Mike Braunlin a few years ago. However, only after looking at the photo recently, did he discover that in addition to the books, he had captured a real “live” ghost. The upper torso of the ghost can be seen flush with one of the book cases in the back while one of its arms can be seen closer to the camera and its legs on the floor. The ghost is clearly browsing the stacks. The profile of its head, chin, nose, eyes is just below the row of lights and its left shoulder and left arm are raised towards the stacks. Light is illuminating its torso. It may be carrying a book bag. It wears dark trousers, its right leg is straight and its right foot lies flat on the floor. Its left leg is bent backwards and it touches the floor with the toes of its left foot. Its sex and age cannot be definitively determined although it is tempting to think that it is John Miller Burnam himself, forever laboring to complete his monumental Palæographia iberica.

It was not Mike’s only encounter. One early morning, still dark outside, he was in a stairway in the Library when he heard a raucous laughter engulfing him. Mike was alone in the Library and he could hear the laughter coming from all directions in the stairway. Scared out of his wits, he ran to the apartment of a grad student on McMillan telling her about his harrowing experience and asking if he could relax there for a while. That grad student was his future wife, Susan, so the ghosts may in fact have been responsible for bringing them together.  And ghosts who live among books must be benevolent, so instead of being fearful, the Classics Library’s staff have decided to embrace their resident bibliophile ghosts.

A real ghost?

A fake ghost?

The Classics Library aims to be a welcoming and inclusive place for all!
Mike insists that our new security gate is either a portal to Another Dimension or a gate whose ultraviolet rays might very well prevent Covid, at least in cats.

We are looking forward to a graduate student organized “A Very Blegen Halloween” with Desk Decorating and Costume Contests, and Party on October 29, followed by a library organized Movie Night!!!

Happy Halloween UC Classicists!

Happy Halloween Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures


Ancient Medicine: Exhibition in the Classics Library forming part of a larger exhibition/event on Andreas Vesalius in Winkler

Before Vesalius there were many ancient Greek physicians whose works influenced both those of Vesalius and other post-classical physicians; for example, Galen of Pergamum (129–c. 216 CE) whose works Vesalius translated and was greatly influenced by; Rufus of Ephesus (late 1st/early 2nd centuries CE) who wrote treatises on dietetics, pathology, anatomy, and gynaecology; Soranus of Ephesus (1st/2nd c. CE) author of a four-volume treatise on gynaecology; Pedanius Dioscurides (c. 40–90 CE), physician, pharmacologist, and botanist born in Cilicia, Asia Minor, and author of De Materia Medica, a 5-volume encyclopedia on herbal medicine which was widely read and used in medical schools and hospitals for more than 1,500 years. His work is included in the exhibition in the form of a rare and extraordinary facsimile of the original Byzantine manuscript referred to as the “Vienna Dioscurides” and another facsimile of a medieval manuscript referred to as the “Naples Dioscurides,” also featured in the exhibition; Asclepiades of Bithynia or of Prusa (c. 129/124–40 BCE) whose treatments included diet, exercise, and bathing; Herophilus of Alexandria (325-255 BCE), often called the “Father of Anatomy” who influenced Galen and was much quoted by him; Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460–c. 370 BCE), the “Father of (Modern) Medicine” and the author of the Hippocratic Oath, still in use today; Alcmaeon of Croton (510–430 BCE) who has also been called the “Father of Anatomy” although he, unlike Herophilus, did not dissect humans to examine human anatomy; Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570–c. 495 BCE) was a polymath, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, physicist, music theorist and is said to have made important contributions to medicine as well, especially to what we today would call holistic medicine. Before the Greek medical texts there were The Edwin Smith Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text and the oldest known surgical treatise on trauma from c. 1600 BCE, also featured in the exhibition, and the Babylonian medical text referred to as the Diagnostic Handbook, written by Esagil-kin-apli of Borsippa in the late 2nd millennium BCE. Continue reading

Classics Library: Student Assistant Positions Available — Apply Now!

The John Miller Burnam Classics Library is looking to hire energetic, hard-working, and responsible student assistants.

The UC Classics Library is the premier classics library in the country thanks to its world-class collections and it is a destination library for national and international students and scholars.

We are seeking highly motivated student workers for immediate openings. We offer employment of c. 10-15 hours a week. Unlike most jobs, we work around your class and exam schedules when planning the work schedule for each semester. Thanks to the variety of responsibilities and the excellence of the collections, working in the Classics Library can improve your research and library skills which are important for academic success as well as add to your CV and list of references.

In addition to being a valued member of an international and vibrant scholarly community and a distinguished library, you will be trained in varied and detail-oriented tasks ranging from staffing the circulation desk to shelving books, searching book lists against the library’s catalog, scanning documents, checking for broken web links, dusting shelves, and anything and everything a large and modern academic research library requires. We guarantee that you will not be bored, but because of our library’s important responsibilities and your limited work hours, you will be required to focus on the many tasks of the job rather than on personal social media or homework.

Because of the highly specialized nature of the Classics Library, we prioritize students with a background in Classical Studies and the Humanities in addition to students with western foreign language training besides in English, especially in German, French, Italian, Spanish in addition to in ancient Greek and Latin. Also, because of a limited budget, we prioritize students on a federal Work/Study grant although we do hire non-work/study students as well.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, please contact us to learn more and to set up an interview at your earliest convenience. Please submit your CV and application form to:

Shannan Stewart, library specialist, shannan.stewart@uc.edu and Rebecka Lindau, head, rebecka.lindau@uc.edu

The library is located on the 1st floor of the Blegen Library building.


Continue reading

The Classics Library Commemorates the 200-Year Anniversary of Greek Independence

The universities of Cincinnati and Michigan and all partner institutions in the “Greek Digital Journal Archive” (GDJA) program commemorate the 200-year anniversary of an independent Greek state.

Had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, the John Miller Burnam Classics Library would have celebrated this important occasion with talks, book exhibitions, Greek music, and Greek foods inside the physical library. As it is, this blog post will serve as a “poor” substitute. However, you will get to hear a conversation recorded for this blog with Associate Professor Alexander Christoforidis, Division of Experienced-based Learning and Career Education at the School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati and the Director of the Greek School at the Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, along with links to information about the War, to songs detailing the fight for independence, as well as a book exhibition of scanned Classics Library journal and book pages, and photos of Greece, Greeks, Greek-Americans, Philhellenes, Greek foods, and Greek music. Try to picture the day when we can celebrate with each other in person! Until then, Happy Bicentennial Greeks, Hellenists, and Philhellenes!


Watch Greek TV live of a special Independence Day Parade on March 25 in front of Syntagma Square in Athens and listen to the historic narrative!



The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution, was waged against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1829. The Revolution is celebrated by Greeks around the world on March 25 as Greek Independence Day. On that day this year, 2021, Greeks commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the official beginning of the Revolution leading to a new independent Greece after almost 400 years of Turkish rule. Continue reading

Happy Valentine, Greeks and Romans!

February is a rainy but also lovable month, so curling up with poetry is perfect. Many ancient poems expressed love in its many forms. For example,

Love of nature as longingly expressed by the great Roman poet Vergil in his Eclogue 1:


“…fortunate senex, hic inter flumina notaet fontis sacros frigus captabis opacum. hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite saepes Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro; hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras: nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes, nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo” (Ecl. 1.51-58).

“…happy old man! Here, amid familiar streams and sacred springs, you shall enjoy the cooling shade. On this side, as of old, on your neighbor’s border, the hedge whose willow blossoms are sipped by Hybla’s bees shall often with its gentle hum soothe you to slumber; on that, under the towering rock, the woodman’s song shall fill the air; while still the cooing wood pigeons, your pets, and the turtle dove shall cease not their moaning from the elm tops.”

Or the touching love of a dog in Homer’s Odyssey (hey Mike!):


“…ἂν δὲ κύων κεφαλήν τε καὶ οὔατα κείμενος ἔσχεν, Ἄργος, Ὀδυσσῆος ταλασίφρονος…  ἔνθα κύων κεῖτ᾿ Ἄργος, ἐνίπλειος κυνοραιστέων. δὴ τότε γ᾿, ὡς ἐνόησεν Ὀδυσσέα ἐγγὺς ἐόντα οὐρῇ μέν ῥ᾿ ὅ γ᾿ ἔσηνε καὶ οὔατα κάββαλεν ἄμφω, ἆσσον δ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ ἔπειτα δυνήσατο οἷο ἄνακτοςἐλθέμεν…” (17. 290-291; 302-304).

“…and a dog that lay there raised his head and pricked up his ears, Argus, steadfast Odysseus’ dog… There lay the dog Argus, full of dog ticks. But now, when he became aware that Odysseus was near, he wagged his tail and dropped both ears, but nearer to his master he had no longer strength to move…”

Or the love of a cow for her newborn calf when he is brutally taken away to be sacrificed (or raised for veal) in Lucretius:


“…nam saepe ante deum vitulus delubra decora turicremas propter mactatus concidit aras, sanguinis expirans calidum de pectore flumen; at mater viridis saltus orbata peragrans quaerit humi pedibus vestigia pressa bisulcis, omnia convisens oculis loca si queat usquam conspicere amissum fetum, completque querellis frondiferum nemus adsistens et crebra revisit ad stabulum desiderio perfixa iuvenci; nec tenerae salices atque herbae rore vigentes fluminaque illa queunt summis labentia ripis oblectare animum subitamque avertere curam, nec vitulorum aliae species per pabula laeta derivare queunt animum curaque levare: usque adeo quiddam proprium notumque requirit…” (2.352-366).

“…for often in front of the noble shrines of the gods a calf falls slain beside the incense-burning altars, breathing up a hot stream of blood from his chest; but the mother, bereaved, wanders through the green glens, and knows the prints marked on the ground by the cloven hooves, as she surveys all the regions if she may espy somewhere her lost offspring, and coming to a stand fills the leafy woods with her moaning, and often revisits the stall pierced with yearning for her young calf; nor can tender willow-growths, and grass growing rich in the dew, and those rivers flowing level with their banks, give delight to her mind and rebuff that care which has entered there, nor can the sight of other calves in the happy pastures divert her mind and lighten her load of care: so persistently she seeks for something of her own that she knows well…”

Or the love of a woman as expressed by the greatest of the Ancient Greek lyric poets, Sappho:


“…ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ᾿ ἴδω βρόχε᾿, ὤς με φώναισ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ἔτ᾿ εἴκει, ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσᾴ <μ᾿> ἔαγε, λέπτονδ᾿ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ὄρημμ᾿, ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ᾿ ἄκουαι, κὰδ δέ μ᾿ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲπαῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι…” (frag. 31.7-14).

“…for when I look at you for a moment, then it is no longer possible for me to speak; my tongue has snapped, at once a subtle fire has stolen beneath my flesh, I see nothing with my eyes, my ears hum, sweat pours from me, a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener than grass…”

Or the love of a man as passionately expressed by Roman poet Catullus (and to the delight of all school children studying Latin)


“…da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum dein, cum milia multa fecerimus, conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus, aut nequis malus invidere possit, cum tantum sciat esse basiorum…” (5)

“…give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand, then a hundred. Then, when we have made up many thousands, we will confuse our counting, that we may not know the reckoning, nor any malicious person blight them with evil eye, when he knows that our kisses are so many…”

Or one of the many rather twisted and often sad love stories in Ovid’s Metamorphoses — Pyramus and Thisbe, Apollo and Daphne, Orpheus and Eurydice and countless others


Pyramus et Thisbe, iuvenum pulcherrimus alter, altera, quas Oriens habuit, praelata puellis, contiguas tenuere domos, ubi dicitur altam coctilibus muris cinxisse Semiramis urbem. notitiam primosque gradus vicinia fecit, tempore crevit amor; taedae quoque iure coissent, sed vetuere patres: quod non potuere vetare, ex aequo captis ardebant mentibus ambo. conscius omnis abest; nutu signisque loquuntur, quoque magis tegitur, tectus magis aestuat ignis…” (Met. 4.55-64).

Pyramus and Thisbe—he, the most beautiful youth, and she, loveliest maid of all the East—dwelt in houses side by side, in the city which Semiramis is said to have surrounded with walls of brick. Their nearness made the first steps of their acquaintance. In time love grew, and they would have been joined in marriage, too, but their parents forbade. Still, what no parents could forbid, sore smitten in heart they burned with mutual love. They had no go-between, but communicated by nods and signs; and the more they covered up the fire, the more it burned.”

Or that of Cupid (Amor) himself and Psyche in Apuleius:


“…centies moriar quam tuo isto dulcissimo conubio caream. Amo enim et efflictim te, quicumque es, diligo aeque ut meum spiritum, nec ipsi Cupidini comparo…” (Met. 5.6)

“…I would rather die a hundred times than be robbed of your sweet caresses. For I love and adore you passionately, whoever you are, as much as my own life’s breath, and I would not even compare Cupid himself with you…” [what Psyche does not know is that it is Cupid himself who caresses her]

Happy Reading!


Honoring Professor Jack L. Davis: Exhibition in the Classics Library

Classics Library Exhibition Flyer 

The John Miller Burnam Classics Library celebrates Professor Jack L. Davis who has been awarded the 2020 Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement, the highest award the Archaeological Institute of America bestows. The exhibition in the main Reading Room of the Library, in the Blegen Library building, highlights Professor Davis’s illustrious academic career and extensive publications.

UC Classics has a long history of excellence in Classical Archaeology. Jack L. Davis joins the distinguished company of four previous AIA Gold Medal recipients from the UC Department of Classics: Carl W. Blegen (1965), John L. Caskey (1980), Emmett Bennett (2001), and C. Brian Rose (2015).

Professor Davis received his Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Cincinnati. The title of his 1977 dissertation was Fortifications at Ayia Irini, Keos: Evidence for history and relative chronology (CLASS Stacks C.U. 151.77.D28). Already as a student, Professor Davis had worked with another famous UC archaeologist, Gerald Cadogan, at Knossos and with Caskey at Ayia Irini on the Cycladic island of Keos.

He has since directed regional archaeological projects in the Nemea Valley, and on the island of Keos, and in Messenia around the Palace of Nestor. In addition, he has led regional studies and excavations in  Albania of the ancient Greek colonies of Dyrrachium/Epidamnos and Apollonia.

UC Professor Carl Blegen uncovered the “Palace of Nestor” and led systematic excavations at Pylos, 1952-1966, after his initial campaign in 1939. Already in his first year, he discovered a cache of a large number of clay tablets with a syllabic script referred to as Linear B, which was later understood to be the earliest example of Greek. Professor Davis resumed and directed excavations around the Palace of Nestor, together with his wife, archaeologist Sharon R. Stocker, many years later. In 2015, the couple created a world-sensation with the discovery of an intact Bronze Age shaft tomb containing more than 3,000 artifacts including weapons, jewelry, armor and silver and gold objects such as a very unusual Minoan seal stone depicting warriors in combat with detailed representations of the bodies of the men, leading some admirers to refer to the unknown artist as a Minoan “Michelangelo,” and four signet gold rings with detailed images of goddesses and bull leapers. The tomb has been dated to c. 1500 BCE, so most likely before the Mycenaean hegemony and the Palaces and the Trojan War, described in Homer’s Iliad.

Before Professor Davis came to UC as faculty in 1994, he had taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1977-1993. He later served as Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2007-2012. He has moreover held visiting professorships and positions at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cambridge, and Northwestern among other institutions.

A reception for Professor Davis was organized by the Classics Department with a thank you speech in which Davis most memorably thanked his mother, his wife (archaeologist Shari Stocker), and his mother-in-law. 

Professor Davis cuts a gold cake served in honor of his AIA Gold Medal award at the reception in the Classics Department.

Exhibition in the Classics Library honoring Jack L. Davis’s achievements, including his pioneering archaeological studies and excavations and extensive publishing output. 

Tytus Fellow Kenneth Sheedy, Research Associate Shari R. Stocker, Professors Jack L. Davis, and Peter van Minnen. 


Some of Professor Davis’s books include:

Papers in Cycladic Prehistory (Los Angeles 1979).
Keos V. Ayia Irini: Period V (Mainz 1986).
Landscape Archaeology as Long-Term History: Northern Keos in the Cycladic Islands (Los Angeles 1991).
Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino (University of Texas Press 1998).
A Guide to the Palace of Nestor, Mycenaean Sites in Its Environs, and the Hora Museum (American School of Classical Studies at Athens 2001).
An Historical and Economic Geography of Ottoman Greece: The Southwestern Morea in the Early 18th Century (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2005).
Between Venice and Istanbul: Colonial Landscapes in Early Modern Greece (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2007).
Philhellenism, Philanthropy, or Political Convenience (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2013), coedited with Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan.
Carl W. Blegen: Personal and Archaeological Narratives (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2015) with Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan and Vivian Florou.
Mycenaean Wall-Painting in Context (Paris and Athens, 2015), edited with Hariclia Brecoulaki and Sharon Stocker.
The Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2017), edited with John Bennet.

His articles, book chapters, book reviews, conference proceedings are too numerous to list here. A fuller account is included in the exhibition.


The Classics Library’s Winter Break Hours, Happy Holidays!

Macrobius, Saturnalia Book 1.16.

“Saturnalibus apud Vettium Praetextatum Romanae nobilitatis proceres doctique alii congregantur et tempus sollemniter feriatum deputant colloquio liberali, convivia quoque sibi mutua comitate praebentes nec discedentes a se nisi ad nocturnam quietem.

nam per omne spatium feriarum meliorem diei partem seriis disputationibus occupantes cenae tempore sermones conviviales agitant, ita ut nullum diei tempus docte aliquid vel lepide proferendi vacuum relinquatur, sed erit in mensa sermo iucundior, ut habeat voluptatis amplius, severitatis minus.”

“It is the Saturnalia: the leading members of the Roman nobility and other learned men are gathered at the home of Vettius Praetextatus, where they are devoting the time of the customary religious observance to cultured conversation, sharing meals with good fellowship all around, nor leaving each other’s company save to take their night’s rest.

During the length of the holiday they spend the better part of the day discussing serious topics and hold festive conversations at dinner-time, so that no time of day is left empty of learned or beguiling contributions. But the conversation at table is of a lighter sort, more pleasurable and less austere.”

UC Classics Library
Winter Break Schedule

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

15 December




16 December


8:00am – 5:00pm


17 December


8:00am – 5:00pm


18 December


8:00am – 5:00pm


19 December


8:00am – 5:00pm


20 December


8:00am – 5:00pm


21 December




22 December




23 December




24 December




25 December




26 December




27 December




28 December




29 December




30 December




31 December




1 January




2 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


3 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


4 January




5 January




6 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


7 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


8 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


9 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


10 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


11 January




12 January




13 January


8:00am – 10:00pm


14 January


8:00am – 10:00pm


15 January


8:00am – 10:00pm


16 January


8:00am – 10:00pm


17 January


8:00am – 5:00pm


18 January


10:00am – 5:00pm

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A Great Scholar and Friend

Larissa Bonfante, Professor Emerita at New York University, died on August 23 this year.  Although spending much of her life commuting between Rome and New York, she lived in Cincinnati for 7 years. She was a UC Classics alumna receiving an M.A. in Classics from the University of Cincinnati in 1957. The title of her master’s thesis was An Endymion Sarcophagus from Ostia in the Metropolitan Museum (CLASS Stacks C.U. 152.57.W3)She also worked at the Cincinnati Art Museum for a number of years during a time when women were routinely discriminated against and living in the rather narrow-minded mid-west for a worldly European and New Yorker was not easy, so her years here were not always happy. She once told me that she had cried herself to sleep every night. I suspect that some of that may have been for my benefit when I complained about “close-minded and lazy” Cincinnatians. Professor Bonfante was always supportive. She understood empathy and unconditional friendship. While in Cincinnati she and her then husband were good friends with and mentors to Walter E. Langsam, the son of former president Walter C. Langsam, after whom the Langsam Library was named. UC Classics Professor Barbara Burrell was a student at NYU of both Professor Bonfante and her late second husband Leo Raditsa. In 2005, Professor Burrell invited Professor Bonfante to UC as a guest lecturer in a graduate class on Roman Archaeology at which she spoke on “The Etruscans as Mediators Between Classical Civilization and the Barbarians of Europe.” Professor Bonfante eventually left Cincinnati to return to New York where she had earned a B.A. in Fine Arts and Classics from Barnard College in 1954 and, eventually, after having a daughter, Alexandra, and later divorcing her first husband, a Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University in 1966. The title of her doctoral dissertation was Etruscan Dress: Studies in Early Italian Art and Culture.

Larissa Bonfante was born on March 27, 1931, in Naples, Italy, but immigrated to the United States when she was only eight years old, at the beginning of WWII and at the height of Fascism in Italy, together with her mother and father, the linguist Giuliano Bonfante, Professor of Indo-European Linguistics at Princeton University, and her brother, journalist Jordan Bonfante. Professor Bonfante was a beloved teacher to many classics students at Barnard and later at New York University; her archaeology seminars at NYU were legendary. Not only was she a very knowledgeable and inspirational teacher, but she was also admired for her sense of humor and embrace of modernity. To her students she epitomized Terence’s homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.  As Professor Bert Smith introduced her when Bonfante gave the Haynes lecture at Oxford, “she has a restless intellect.” Her extensive (more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, a dozen books, many encyclopedia entries (Encyclopedia Britannica, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Oxford Companion to Archaeology, World Book Encyclopedia,  etc.), consultancy to the National Geographic, book reviews, book chapters, and conference talks, too many to count, and varied oeuvre in Italian, French, and English covered Etruscan culture and language, Roman history, and Ancient Greek literature and civilization. She was the founder of Etruscan News: Newsletter of the American Section of the Institute for Etruscan and Italic Studies, and in 2007 she received the Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Institute of America, the same honor now bestowed upon UC Classics Chair Jack Davis this year.

Much of her work in recent years was dedicated to examining the Etruscan exceptionalism in art and customs as reflected in frescoes, pottery, architecture, mirrors, funerary practices, language, family life, and influence on the Greeks, Romans, and the many neighbors in Europe and the Mediterranean with whom the Etruscans traded. She did not shy away from controversial subjects such as human sacrifice which she was convinced was a reality both in pre-Classical Greece and among the Etruscans.  Her research interests included Late Antiquity and the relationship between pagan Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate and his admirer, the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, and she translated The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim (Bolchazy-Carducci 2013).

In her scholarship she made a number of new and transformative observations. Even though her “Gender Benders” article (in Edward Herring and Kathryn Lomas (Eds.). Gender Identities in Italy in the First Millennium BC. BAR International Series 1983, Archaeopress 2009, pp. 109-116) was written, as she said, “for fun,” and read out loud at one of the wonderfully collegial meetings of the Accordia Institute in London, it revealed the stereotypical and erroneous interpretations of figures in ancient art as male or female when in actual fact the true identities may be the reverse. Her book Etruscan Language from 1983 (Manchester and New York, revised in 2002), which she coauthored with her father, and The Barbarians of Europe: Realities and Interconnections (Cambridge 2011), have both been highly influential and greatly enhanced our understanding of the Etruscans and their language, which we can read although not entirely understand, and the many discussions of its origin, and the Barbarians challenged long held beliefs and misconceptions about those in the peripheries of the Greek and Roman worlds.  Her introduction to the Barbarians, a book she edited, and for which she was the creative impetus, is one of the best introductions to the topic. Her not yet published book on Nudity as a Costume in the Ancient Mediterranean and her many articles on the subject altered our understanding of Greek nudity. She argued, based on Herodotus, that the Greeks used their innovation of male nudity along with the Greek language to distinguish themselves from “barbarians” and that in time male nudity became the mark of a Greek citizen, in particular in Athens and the mainland. Ionian kouroi were generally draped. She also made important observations about the Roman triumph in a series of articles as the central symbol of Roman military virtus. In contrast to the Greeks, who emphasized their distance from both contemporary barbarians and past ancestors, the antiquity of the triumph gave Rome its great prestige, and kept it from changing.

As prolific as her research about the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans were, she always felt that Latin literature was closest to her heart. It was this that she most enjoyed teaching and missed the most when she retired from teaching. “Teaching Lucretius,” she said, simply meant “sharing the wonders of his rugged rhythms and his images, both touchingly personal and magnificently cosmological” [personal communication]. “In the music of Horace,” she added, especially the poem about turning into a swan (Ode II. 20), she argued that “Horace is more open than usual about his personal feelings, about his fear of death and that accusations of its “grotesque” proved its effectiveness” [personal communication].

As is true for many scholars of her generation, she was a well-rounded classicist, i.e., she was equally at home in Greek and Latin philology as in ancient history, classical art and archaeology. She could discuss psycho-analysis (she was active in a NY group applying psycho-analytic methodology to classic literature) as easily as astrology. She once interpreted my horoscope. I was curious in spite of my disinclination towards anything religious or spiritual. However, her open-mindedness and “restless intellect” did not mean that she was not rigorous in her research, writing or teaching. When we students were not doing sufficiently well at reading Etruscan, she impatiently reprimanded us for being lazy and not applying ourselves. In our defense, it was our first class on the subject, but we all rushed to the library and hit the books. By the next session we were all quite proficient. When a visiting scholar gave a talk at NYU she criticized her “sloppy” research, methodology and findings in very strong terms. She could not abide by what she deemed to be careless reasoning by either colleagues or her students.

It is fairly easy to write about the teacher and scholar Larissa Bonfante. To speak about a close friend of 21 years I am not yet ready to do at length, maybe someday. Also, only a very cursory portrait can be painted in a blog post, but I cannot let this year end without saying something about this remarkable woman, scholar and friend.

My first encounter with Professor Bonfante’s embrace of all things human was when I and her other students were headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to give class presentations (mine was on the Euphronios vase, which was still at the Met at that time) when by the Cooper Union Square subway station Professor Bonfante with open arms walked towards and hugged some scary-looking youths with tomahawk haircuts, nose rings, and tattoos. I was quite horrified at the company she seemingly kept. They turned out to be friends of her son, a DJ.

In spite of her social ease, she was a very private person in many ways. Much of what I learned about her earlier life was through references to things she remembered in conversation. She had many, many friends and mentees (and mentors) over the years. Her friendships were as varied as her academic interests. I was genuinely impressed when she introduced me to Walter Caporale, the President of Italian PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and his now husband Carmine de Nuzzo, who was also her handyman in the neighborhood of Trastevere, Rome, where she kept two homes (after the death of her father). We all became good friends.  I was also amused when she mentioned en passant that Rita Mae Brown of Rubyfruit Jungle fame, who was Professor Bonfante’s student of Latin at Barnard, had had a crush on her.

Once I left NYU for Princeton, our friendship truly blossomed. One of our regular outings was to the Metropolitan Museum (every new exhibition), followed by lunch at Candle 79 (in later years), and a stroll in Central Park.  We visited numerous museums together both in the U.S. and Europe. A museum or exhibition visit with her was a treat. She was as interested in modern art as in classical; a futurist exhibition at MOMA could excite her as much as an artistic representation of classical mythology at Galleria Corsini. She was remarkably knowledgeable and noticed every detail in a work of art, which subsequently inspired and informed her research and writing.

Professor Larissa Bonfante in her “esse”. Here admiring the Chimaera at the National Archaeological Museum in Florence. She dismissed attempts at making the sculpture medieval as rubbish. She wrote extensively about this Etruscan masterpiece found at Arezzo. See for example, “Chimaera of Arezzo,” in An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology, ed. by N.T. de Grummond (Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 1996) 159-160, 276-77.

Professor Bonfante on one of numerous visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Here in the Egyptian section.

Our favorite hangout in Rome was a café at Piazza di Trastevere, the location of Rome’s most beautiful and enigmatic church, Santa Maria in Trastevere, also the location of her father’s funeral ceremony. The café used to serve spremuta d’arancia in very tall glasses and with bread that I used to feed the many pigeons at the square. She always said that she was going to pretend not to know me when I tossed the bread to the birds and we laughed. She was a closeted pigeon fan, too.

Our favorite Roman hangout, a trattoria on Piazza di Trastevere. They served delicious spremute d’arancia and good bread, morsels for the square’s pigeons.

Our last big adventure was at Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence when she came to stay with me for a few days when I lived nearby on Via del Parione. Afterwards, she wrote in capital letters that no one seemed to understand when she said that she had “CLIMBED MT. EVEREST.” We had started out at Porta Romana and walked to the Porcelain Museum and Costume Gallery and Palazzo Pitti. We had not had breakfast, but the café in Palazzo Pitti was closed, so we set out to find another place to eat and followed directions to something called Das Kaffeehaus, which sounded promising, but was no longer a functioning coffee house, so we climbed even further to eventually end up at Forte di Belvedere.  Our climb took hours. It was mid-August and the temperature was in the upper 90s. We were both exhausted, but Professor Bonfante had become dizzy. I was trying to find water for her. However, once we finally reached an actual and open café, she bounced back without difficulty. I had a harder time.

Professor Bonfante relaxing after a more than four-hour climb to Forte di Belvedere with a magnificent view of Florence, seemingly undeterred in spite of the mid-August pressing heat.

The spectacular view of Florence from Forte di Belvedere was perhaps worth the “climb to Mt. Everest.”

I wish we had known then that her lungs were besieged with cancer and not pneumonia with which her New York doctors had diagnosed her repeatedly. When she was finally correctly diagnosed, her lung cancer was at stage 4. I spoke with her as she was in a taxi on her way to her first and only chemo treatment. She was in fairly good spirits and happy to finally begin to combat her illness. We made plans for me to come to NY this week in December to go Christmas shopping as we had done many times before. When I spoke with her afterwards she was completely transformed. The doctors had said that she had looked 20 years younger and she did. She was extremely energetic and young at body and heart; after the treatment she said that she looked like a very old and frail woman and that the chemo had “destroyed” her. Her voice sounded small and unsteady; in her last email to me on August 16 she said that we “have something special, you and I” and in her last phone call a couple of days later she said that she was “proud of my career and proud to have been my teacher.” It was obvious that she knew that her death was near. On August 22, the day before she died, I told her on the phone how much I loved her. She was unable to speak at that point, but her daughter said that she had heard me. As I was on my way to chair a meeting at a conference in Athens, she passed away. I should have canceled my trip to Greece and gone to New York instead.

Her life, like most people’s lives, had challenges – burying both a husband and an ex-husband, the death of her mother and father (her father’s death at the age of more than 100 was particularly difficult for her) and of many friends and colleagues, one of her children’s battle with drug addiction and other issues.  One of her many Bonfanteisms – “life is full of misery, occasionally punctuated by great tragedy”– oddly comforts me. However, she also led a charmed life in many ways. She was lauded and admired as a professor and scholar, a very popular lecturer at conferences all over the world. She was loved by many friends. In her last few hours she was surrounded by her daughter and son and brother. Her beloved cat Lola was already at a friend’s house.

Professor Bonfante introduced me to the cat sanctuary at Largo Argentina in Rome of which she was a great friend, helping the cats and their caretakers with monetary contributions as well as penning letters to the City of Rome that continuously threatens to close them down.  She was also behind the popular standing feature of the Archaeocat in Etruscan News. Professor Bonfante had many cat companions over the years, ever since she was a girl in Princeton, New Jersey. Lola, seen here, became her last one.

I regret that future generations of scholars will not benefit from her willingness to edit their manuscripts, read their dissertation proposals and drafts, give them advice and remarkable support.  She left many unfinished projects; with me her Selected Writings, and for Professor Bonfante perhaps most importantly, she did not get to finalize the publication of the Jerome Lectures which she had given at the American Academy in Rome a few years back and on which she had worked tirelessly. Her lectures were usually colloquia, ad lib. She rarely if ever read from a prepared manuscript, so to subsequently publish talks that she had given necessitated much work. Larissa Bonfante was a great scholar and a true Mensch. Her necrology to Professor Margarete Bieber, an admired teacher and mentor at Columbia, is beautifully written and from which I would like to quote a passage that could perfectly and equally apply to Professor Bonfante: “A visitor to her warm New York apartment emerged from a long, book-filled corridor into a bright sun-filled room, to face her expectant smile, offer of tea and chocolate cake, and conversation about mutual friends and plans…” (Bonfante, L. “Margarete Bieber,” Necrology in Gnomon 51 (1979) 621-624).

I am proud, and grateful, to have been Professor Bonfante’s student, but even more so to have been her friend.

A brief bibliography

1955 “Caere, Necropoli della Banditaccia,” Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, 1955,   57 (excavation by the Istituto di Archaeologia dell’ Università di Roma, 1951);

1970 “Roman Triumphs and Etruscan Kings: The Changing Face of the Triumph,” Journal of Roman Studies 60 (1970) 49-66; 1971 “Etruscan Dress as Historical Source: Some Problems and Examples,” American Journal of Archaeology 75 (1971) 277-284, pls. 65-68.

1976  Editor, with Helga von Heintze, In Memoriam Otto J. Brendel. Essays in Archaeology and the Humanities (von Zabern Verlag, Mainz 1976).

1978  “The Arnoaldi Mirror, the Treviso Discs, and Etruscan Mirrors in Northern Italy,” American Journal of Archaeology 82 (1978) 235-238.

1979 The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim, with Alexandra Bonfante-Warren, 1979. Bolchazy-Carducci.

1979  “The Language of Dress: Etruscan Influences,” Archaeology 31 (1978) 14-26.

1980  “Historical Art: Etruscan and Early Roman,” American Journal of Ancient History 3 (1978) [1980] 136-162.

1981  Out of Etruria. Etruscan Influence North and South. British Archaeological Reports, International Series S103.

1983 (revised edition in 2002) The Etruscan Language: An Introduction, with G. Bonfante (Manchester and New York).

1984  “Human Sacrifice on an Etruscan Urn,” American Journal of Archaeology 88 (1984) 531-39.

1985  “Amber, Women, and Situla Art,” Journal of Baltic Studies 16 (1985) 276-291.

1986 Etruscan Life and Afterlife. A Handbook of Etruscan Studies, Detroit, MI.

1989 “Nudity as Costume in Classical Art,” American Journal of Archaeology 93 (1989) 543-570.

1989  “Wounded Souls: Etruscan Ghosts and Michelangelo’s ‘Slaves’,” with Nancy de Grummond, Analecta Romana Instituta Danici 18 (1989) 99-116.

1989 “Aggiornamento: il costume etrusco,” Atti, II Congresso Internazionale Etrusco, Firenze 1985 (Rome) 1373-1393, figs. 18 on 3 pls.

1990  Reading the Past: Etruscan. British Museum Publications. London and Berkeley, California.

1990 “Caligula the Etruscophile,” Liverpool Classical Monthly 15.7 July (1990) 98-100.

1992  “The Poet and The Swan: Horace Odes II 20,” Parola del Passato N.S. 47 (1992) 25-45.

1994  The World of Roman Dress (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press), co-editor, with Judith Lynne Sebesta

1996 “Etruscan Sexuality and Funerary Art,” in Sexuality in Ancient Art, ed. by N. Kampen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996) 155-169.

1997  Etruscan Mirrors. CSE USA 3. New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art (L’Erma di Bretschneider, Rome)

1997 “Nursing Mothers in Classical Art,” in Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology, ed. by C. Lyons, A. Koloski-Ostrow (Routledge, New York, London) 174-196.

1998 “Livy and the Monuments.” In Boundaries of the Ancient Near East. Festschrift for Cyrus Gordon (Sheffield 1998), 480-492.

1998  Editor, G. Bonfante, The Origin of the Romance Languages (Winter Verlag, Heidelberg 1998).

2003 Etruscan Dress. Updated edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

2008  “Freud and the Psychoanalytical Meaning of the Baubo Gesture in Ancient Art.” Source: Notes in the History of Art 27, Nos. 2-3: 2-29.

2011   L. Bonfante, ed. The Barbarians of Europe. Realities and Interconnections. Cambridge.

2013  “Human Sacrifice. Etruscan Rituals for Death and for Life.” In Chiaramonte Trerè, C., Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni, Francesca Chiesa. 2013. Interpretando l’Antico. Scritti di archeologia offerti a Maria Bonghi Jovino. Università di Milano. Quaderni di Acme134. Milan, Cisalpino. Vol. 2, 67-82.

2013 “Women and Children.” In J.M Turfa, ed. The World of the Etruscans. Routledge, Chapter 20, 426-446.

2014    “Conversando con Francesca: sul tabú del sacrificio umano.” In Memory of Francesca Serra Ridgway. In M. D. Gentili, L. Maneschi, eds. Mediterranea, vol 11 (1914). Studi e ricerche a Tarquinia e in Etruria. Atti del simposio internazionale in ricordo di Francesca Romana Serra Ridgway. Tarquinia, 24-25 settembre 2010. Parte II.

2015  Co-editor, with Helen Nagy, Highlights of the Collection of Antiquities of the American Academy in Rome. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.