Today, the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, in cooperation with the Klau Library of Hebrew Union College, commemorates the Bicentennial of the First Jewish Congregation in Cincinnati

On January 18, 1824, the first Jewish congregation in Cincinnati was formed, the first west of New York, making the Queen City a center of Judaism in the United States.

The first recorded Jewish man in Cincinnati was Joseph Jonas, a watchmaker, from Plymouth in England, who arrived in New York in October 1816 with the intent of making his way to the new city of Cincinnati. He left for Cincinnati from Philadelphia on January 2 in 1817 but did not arrive in Cincinnati until March 8, two months later, after a long and difficult journey traveling in horse carriage across the mountains and then on a flatboat (see below) south on the Ohio River.

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Aphorisms, candies, and music in the Classics Library

On the last day of Chanukah, ten brave classics faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and library staff took a few minutes off from exams, papers, grading, and book purchasing to gather in the Classics Library to read aphorisms in Latin, Greek, Sinhala, Mandarin, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Swedish, and English out loud, picked from a bowl of faux parchment scrolls with some 40 aphorisms, and listen to music from around the world, arranged and performed by the Library’s resident musician Yo Shionoya, munch on candy and gingerbread cookies, and have a few well-earned laughs.

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The Italian American Community was out in force at the Dedication of the New Lupa


On a gorgeous, albeit cold, November morning many Italian Americans, including a woman in her 90s who had attended the dedication of the original statue in the 1930s, a few Italian Italians, several Italophiles, and representatives from City Hall and Cincinnati Parks, some of Italian descent, channel 5, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and other press, gathered at Eden Park for the unveiling of the new Lupa statue with the original twin brothers Romulus and Remus on a marble base with gilded lettering announcing the gift of it from the Governor of Rome to the City of Cincinnati, the namesake of the Roman general Cincinnatus, in 1931 (not in place until 1932 as the “wrong” Lupa (a baby one) was initially sent). The governor in question was Prince Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi (Governor 1928-1935) who was sacked by fascist leader Mussolini, landed on Hitler’s “most-wanted” list, and aided Italian partisans and allies, e.g., welcoming the British Red Cross to operate from his palace.

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Seneca, Nero, Shostakovich, Stalin & Stoicism: “An Evening with Seneca”

Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BCE-65 CE) is a controversial figure in the political, literary, and philosophical history of Rome. Seneca was a remarkably versatile and prolific writer whose life was affected by several emperors from Tiberius to Nero. Claudius caused his exile from Rome and Nero his death. Seneca wrote a large collection of letters, full of memorable quotes (e.g., “If you live in harmony with nature you will never be poor; if you live according to opinion, you will never be rich,” quoting Epicurus, 16) and thoughtful philosophical essays about anger, death (shortness of life), leisure, the happy life, and tranquility, and also rather gruesome tragedies such as Medea and Thyestes, and even a satire with the impossible title Apocolocyntosis [instead of Apotheosis] divi Claudii (The Gourdification of the Divine Claudius) as well as a work on cosmology, meteorology, and astrology/astronomy. The main controversy stems from the seeming inconsistency of his adhering to a Stoic philosophy of decency, moral awareness, mindfulness, and moderation juxtaposed to his defense of the murderous dictator Nero and his own amassing of considerable wealth and power.  

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She-Wolf Exhibition in the Burnam Classics Library, November 3

Place: Eden Park and the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, UC.
When: November 3. 1. Dedication ceremony in Eden Park at 10:00 am; 2. Exhibition in the Burnam Classics Library after the ceremony.

Exhibition and Dedication Ceremony: In connection with the dedication of the new She-Wolf nursing Romulus (the eponymous founder of ancient Rome) and Remus in Eden Park on November 3, 2023, at 10:00 am (rescheduled from October 20), the John Miller Burnam Classics Library is hosting an exhibition featuring ancient texts about the story underlying the statue, Roman original coins depicting the scene, and photos and a video of the making of the new statue in Tuscany, Italy, before its transport to Cincinnati, and posters with newspaper clippings and other historical materials from the late 1920s and early 1930s concerning the gift of the statue to the City of Cincinnati, the gifting of a “wrong” baby wolf, the explanation of its location in Eden Park, and much more.

Parking: Please plan to visit the Burnam Library after the dedication ceremony. Parking in Cincinnati is always an issue because there are few public transportation options. For the dedication ceremony, plan to arrive at 9:30 am and park at the Krohn Conservatory and walk to Eden Park. For the exhibition, look for parking along Straight Street opposite the Blegen Library building and above, i.e., south of, McMillan Street at the top of Clifton Avenue. There is also metered parking along Clifton Avenue.

Lemonade: Will be served outside the Blegen Library building if it’s a sunny day; inside the lobby if it rains. While enjoying a glass of lemonade, note the Lupa with twins on a relief on the pylon beneath the roof and above the outside entrance to the Blegen building from the 1930s, inspired by the Eden Park statue, which in turn was modeled on a statue now housed in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy.

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“An Evening with Seneca,” October 5, 4:00-6:15 pm

  • After a hiatus because of a pandemic, the John Miller Burnam Classics Library is poised to host its third annual author celebration. The honoree this year is Seneca the Younger, author, politician, and Stoic philosopher. We aim to vary the format each year adapted to the author honored. With that in mind, this year we have organized a panel with leading experts on Seneca (James Romm, Bard, Gareth Williams, Columbia, Christopher Trinacty, Oberlin) discussing the curious case of a man promulgating a philosophy of mindfulness and reason while seemingly condoning the murderous behavior of a madman, Emperor Nero, whose advisor and amicus he was.
  • The panel is followed by a presentation of an interdepartmental group of undergraduate students and their participation in an experiment entailing living like a Stoic for one week.
  • As usual, there will be a music performance, this time with chamber music, and, also true to tradition, under the leadership of Yo Shionoya, a DMA candidate at CCM and long-time student worker in the Classics Library, who has chosen to perform works by Dmitri Shostakovich, a composer who had to balance his creative voice with the demands of another madman, Joseph Stalin.
  • Also, as customary, there will be an exhibition featuring rare books, this time of the works of Seneca from the 16th and 17th centuries (below is a 1651 edition of his philosophical works), an incunabulum of the works of Tacitus, a chief source for the life of Seneca,

an original copper coin of Emperor Nero (the copper as below from 65 CE of Nero on the obverse and the closed door to the temple of Janus, symbolizing peace, on the reverse. The phrase S[ENATVS] – C[ONSVLTO on the reverse shows that the issuing of money was still the prerogative of the Senate),

and a reception serving Mediterranean appetizers.

  • For a special treat, Professor Romm will be signing his best-seller, Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero.

Place: Reading Room, John Miller Burnam Classics Library, Blegen Library building, 2602 University Circle, off of Clifton Ave.
Date: October 5, 2023
Time: 4:00 – c. 6:15 pm

For additional details, please download the program, flyer, and post below.

The “New Lupa” has Arrived in Cincinnati!

The Cincinnati chapter of the “Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America” has raised funds to replace the famous She-Wolf, which was stolen from Eden Park on June 16, 2022. A workshop connected to the University of Florence, Italy, has created a replica which was shipped to the United States and arrived in Cincinnati on Friday, August 25, 2023 (see the first three images below, taken by Joe Mastruserio, president of the Cincinnati lodge of OSDIA). The statue will be returned to Eden Park at a dedication ceremony on October 20, 2023, at 10:00 am.

The story of the Lupa (Latin for female wolf) is well-known and can be easily found on Wikipedia, so I won’t repeat it here, just to say that the statue that was stolen and vandalized after criminals had removed it from its base by cutting it off from the paws, leaving the twins and base intact, was originally gifted in 1931 (dedicated in 1932) by the City of Rome, Italy, under the fascist leader Benito Mussolini. He donated wolf statues also to other towns in the U.S. with some connection to Rome, however faint, such as a town in Georgia by the name of Rome. The Cincinnati “connection” was the name of the city and the Roman military leader Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. The statue was modeled after the so-called Capitoline Wolf thus named as the original is housed in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy (see the last image below). The date of the original statue is uncertain. Some scholars claim it to be Etruscan from the 5th-4th centuries BCE; others that it is early medieval from the 10th-11th centuries. Other dates have also been suggested. What seems clear is that the nursing twins are additions from the Renaissance (probably late 15th c.).

In connection with the dedication ceremony on October 20, a book exhibition devoted to the She-Wolf and Romulus and Remus will be on display in the Reading Room of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library at UC, featuring texts describing the story of the Wolf’s role in the Founding of ancient Rome, and original Roman coins, such as a silver denarius dating from the Roman Republic; other coins from the time of emperors Antoninus Pius and Constantine, representing the wolf nursing the twins. Interestingly, the depictions are of a wolf looking down at the twins, not at the viewer as in the Capitoline Wolf which, as I mentioned, did not originally include the twins. The relief of the Lupa and twins on the parapet of the façade of the Blegen Library building, housing the Burnam Classics Library, can be viewed at any time (see fourth image below).

As UC is a public university, the exhibition will be open to all. If you can, please attend both events, especially the dedication ceremony in Eden Park to convey the message that Cincinnatians will not allow theft or vandalism of their historic monuments and that we as law-abiding residents are reclaiming our parks as safe and clean spaces for families, wildlife, plant life — and for history!

Classicists — Burnam Library Updates and Happy Summer!

Happy Summer and congratulations to all our new graduates, not the least our new PhD’s this spring, Sarah Wenner, Cecilia Cozzi, Duccio Guasti, and Andrew Lund, and MA’s, Charlie Kocurek and Dalton Davis!

Please see the Classics Library Newsletter (link below) recounting several new and interesting undertakings, especially the many digitized items, and their descriptions and histories in the new Book Tour and much more. Happy Reading!

Spring Semester 2023 Classics Library April 28