Nickolas Agathis ’10 (Classical Civilization and Chemistry), MD
MPHPediatric/Global Child Health Resident PGY4Chief resident,
Dr. Kelly DeScioli Global Child Health Residency Program
Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital 

Many of my peers who look to have professional careers in science and medicine gravitate heavily towards science and mathematics heavy coursework.  But by not focusing on liberal arts in undergraduate education, they are selling themselves short on the type of education and skill building they could gain from a broad comprehensive multidisciplinary education.  My classics education benefited me enormously and helped me become a better medical trainee and physician.

Studying Latin and ancient Greek made my medical study much easier.  Many of the terms we learn in medical training through our anatomy, physiology, and pathology courses have Latin or Greek roots.  For example, learning all the muscles of the arms and legs was ridiculously easy with my background in Latin and Greek.

One needs to understand humanity and the human experience, particularly how one confronts disease, to be a good doctor.  One needs to think about a patient as a holistic whole, not just a machine comprised of various organ systems and functions. Not many concentrations teach you the empathy to do this better than a classics education.  There are not many writers to learn better from than Homer and the tragic poets Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

Nearly every decision we make in medicine has an ethical component. Balancing between ensuring beneficence for the patient, the patient’s autonomy, and justice for society at whole represents the crux of medical decision making. I have been able to think about ethics effectively because of my classics education.  Classics taught me to think about problems in the context of a moral imperative.  It gave me the experience and judgment to help make just decisions for my patients.

Perhaps the major benefit from my classics education came from preparing me to learn how to read and analyze a voluminous amount of information in an efficient method.  It is important to take the background science classes for medical school, but one cannot succeed in medical school without reading comprehension and analytical skills.   

Classics also helped me to be a better communicator.  Reading and learning from the greats like Cicero and Aristotle helped me to develop verbal skills that can be used during daily medical rounds or at the bedside.  A great physician also needs to be a competent writer.  Whether it is documenting our notes in the electronic medical record or writing research papers, one needs to be able to express their thought process in a cogent and persuasive manner.  The numerous papers I had to write during my classics major significantly helped me improve my writing by understanding how to organize my arguments in an effective and comprehensive manner.

Jessica Paul, B.A.'97 

At Lehigh, I studied Latin and Roman culture through the Classics Program, and I took the opportunity to study those subjects in Rome for a semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies.  I can’t say enough about how much I loved studying at ICCS.  I was able to read the Roman poet Horace one day in Latin class and study the archeological remains of Horace’s villa the next.  I became the unofficial photographer there that semester, lugging around two film cameras, one color, one black and white, documenting my fellow “Centristis” perched on tops of the gargantuan capitals of a fallen temple in Sicily.  Or sitting on top of the world’s oldest dome.  Lehigh was able to provide that opportunity by being a member university of this wonderful program.

After graduation I went on get a masters in architecture at Columbia University, and I worked for a number of years in that field in New York before starting an architectural photography studio that serves the region.  I’ve even found time recently to write two novels while raising two toddlers.  Which college classes served as the foundation for developing my writing skills?  Funny enough, what I learned in Latin class. 

A Research Excursion in Digital Classics - Christopher Forstall, B.A. '04

Where will a career in Classics take you? The destinations are diverse, and often unexpected. After completing my PhD in Greek philology, I was offered the chance to spend two years as a post-doctoral researcher in Digital Humanities at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. There, I was part of an ambitious interdisciplinary project that examined the interaction of allusion and narrative in classical epic poetry.

Led by Damien Nelis, Intertextuality in Flavian Epic was a three-year research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Our goal was to investigate the ways that narrative structure and verbal allusion reinforced and sometimes challenged one another in Latin epic of the late first century CE. During this period, Imperial Roman poets used sophisticated literary techniques not only to establish links to their Classical predecessors and to one another but also to set themselves apart, seeking new voices in what was by now a mature genre. We applied interdisciplinary methods combining traditional close reading with computational analysis in order to probe this phenomenon more deeply.

Beyond the principal research project, the two years spent in Geneva provided a diverse set of experiences and invaluable opportunities for professional and personal growth. With my colleague Lavinia Galli Mili, I co-taught a seminar on Statiusâ Achilleid, examining the roles of genre and gender in this enigmatic, unfinished poem. I also had the opportunity to participate in workshops at the Electronic Text Reuse Acquisition Project in Gattingen, Germany, and the Fondation Bodmer in Colligny, Switzerland. We presented our own work at conferences in GrenobleBerlin, and Krakow. I made wonderful friends and valuable connections across a continent, and spent a stimulating two years with my wife and daughters embedded in a language and culture quite different from our own.

This is an exciting time to be in the field of Digital Classics. This year's meeting of the Society for Classical Studies saw packed rooms for the Digital Classical Association panel on Digital Classics and the Changing Profession, and the full day of Ancient MakerSpaces workshops. Among those present were recent grads who have made careers outside classics proper: in academic fields like Computer Science and Molecular Biology, at research posts in libraries, and in a number of other cross-disciplinary and non-traditional roles.

My own career has (for now) taken me, too, outside the field, to a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame. Nominally part of the Computer Vision Research Lab, in fact I'm still working on digital stylometry and text reuse, including ongoing collaborations with Geneva on Latin and Greek epic. I also teach a class in introductory programming. My lab is directed by Walter Scheirer, also a Lehigh Alum '04, and together we have a book in preparation, titled Quantitative Intertextuality, surveying, among other things, some of the work I've mentioned here.

Although Classics is arguably the oldest discipline in the academy, it continues to evolve and grow constantly. We who practice it often find ourselves in unexpected places as a result, learning from new friends and new fields, and integrating new ways of thinking into our own. And the journey is far from over! 

Professor Barbara Pavlock Gives an Invited Lecture at Rice

Professor Barbara Pavlock (pictured on the left) gave an invited lecture at Rice University in Houston, Texas, in April.  Pavlock, a specialist in Latin epic poetry, read a paper entitled "Scylla as Spoiler in Ovid, Metamorphoses 8" to faculty and students in the Classics Department at Rice.

Lehigh University Classical Studies - Professor Robert Phillips giving a guest lecture on intersections of Greek and Roman religion and myth in Barbara Pavlock's Mythology class in April

Professor Robert Phillips Gives a Guest Lecture

Professor Robert Phillips (pictured on the left) gave a guest lecture on intersections of Greek and Roman religion and myth in Barbara Pavlock's Mythology class in April.  Phillips, who was hired as a Classicist at Lehigh in 1976, taught Mythology for many years as well as numerous courses in ancient Greek and Roman history and in his special research area of Roman religion.  He will be retiring at the end of fall 2014.

Lehigh University Classical Studies - Professor David Small

Professor David Small Has Received a Fulbright Fellowship

Professor David Small (pictured on the left) has received a Fulbright Fellowship to work on Crete for spring 2015. During his fellowship period, Small will teach two graduate courses on Greek archaeology for the University of Crete and continue research on his model of small community evolution in the Cretan Iron Age.

Lehigh University Classical Studies - Classics Major, Jessica Morgan '13 attends Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome

Classics Major, Jessica Morgan '13 attends Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome
Classics major Jessica Morgan (class of 2013) spent the fall semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome.  As one of 35 students admitted to this prestigious program, Jessica had the advantage of taking a City course that focused on ancient Rome and the surrounding area.  The group got to visit sites not ordinarily open to the public and visited all the major monuments and archaeological sites in the area under the direction of the distinguished faculty teaching at the "Centro" this year.  The photo here shows Jessica in front of the Colosseum.   In addition, Jessica got to go with the group on a week-long trip to the Bay of Naples area, to explore the major classical remains there, including Pompeii and Herculaneum, and on another week-long trip to Sicily, to visit the ancient Greek as well as Roman sites.

Lehigh University Classical Studies - Professor Barbara Pavlock is Honored by the Classical Association of the Atlantic States

Classics Professor Barbara Pavlock (pictured left) was honored for her service as Secretary to the Classical Association of the Atlantic States at the Fall 2012 Meeting in New York City.  The "ovatio" below was written by Awards Committee member Judith Hallett and delivered by Frank Romer(pictured lower left), former Chair of the CAAS Hahn Scholarship Committee.

Ovatio: Barbara Pavlock (Latin)
Ovidius noster, laudans coniugem suam carissimam, scripsit illam suos casus levare, quod praestaret amorem impositumque firmam tueri onus. 1 Honoramus feminam quoque firmissimam atque carissimam, quae non solum scripsit opera docta laudataque de carminibus Ovidii nostri sed etiam diu levavit onera Societatis Nostrae optime scribendo. Vera filia huius excelsioris civitatis, adepta gradum Baccalaureae Artium apud universitatem sequentem rationis viam (post adepta gradum Magistrae Artium apud universitatem studiosam lucis veritatisque)  Doctor Philosophiae fiebat  apud universitatem conantem docere omnes homines omnes res.2  Multos annos ornavit universitatem in alia civitate, illustri propter amorem virtutis libertatisque, quae homines ministros et interpretes naturae colit, praecipienda amore litterarum Latinarum Graecarumque Britannicarumque.3  Causa artium aluit scientiam,  memorans res gestas Societatis Nostrae verbis dignissimis carmine vacuissimisque errore.4 Plaudamus igitur Barbara Pavlock.

Lehigh University Classical Studies - Frank RomerOvatio: Barbara Pavlock (English translation)
When praising his deeply cherished wife, the Roman poet Ovid wrote that she lightened his difficulties because of the love that she displayed for him and the steadfastness with which she assumed responsibility for the burden imposed upon her. We honor a woman, no less steadfast and cherished, who has not only written learned and critically praised words about Ovid's own poetry but also long lightened the burdens of our organization by writing most expertly. A true daughter of New York State, after she had received her B.A. degree from Barnard College (and her M.A. from Yale University), she earned her PhD at Cornell University. She has for many years brought distinction to Lehigh University, across the river in Pennsylvania, as Professor of Classics in the Department of English. She has strengthened the fiber of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States as our devoted secretary, preparing minutes in words worthy of a poem and totally free from error.  Let us therefore applaud Barbara Pavlock.
Judith P. Hallett - University of Maryland, College Park

1 Ovid, Tristia 3.4.60-62 illa meos casus ...levat/ ... levat hoc.• quod praestat amoremlimpositumque  sibi firma tuetur onus.
2 Excelsior, state motto of New York; Hepomene toi logismoi, "following the way of Reason", Greek motto of Barnard College; Lux et Veritas, Latin motto of Yale University; "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study," English motto of Cornell University.
3 "Virtue, Liberty and Independence," state motto of Pennsylvania; Homo minister et interpres naturae, Latin motto of Lehigh University; Ovid refers to himself as praeceptor amoris at Ars Amatoria 1.17.
4 Causa Artium Alit Scientiam, motto of CAAS; Ovid, Tristia 2. 207perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error.