Sarah Ruden, a visiting scholar in classics, is the author of “The Old is New Again,” published in the Feb. 21, 2011 issue of National Review magazine. The article focuses on her work translating — from Latin — the first extant novel in western literature, The Golden Ass’ by Apuleius. Ruden’s translation is due to be published this year by Yale University Press.
In addition to her essays, the National Review publishes Ruden’s original poetry on a regular basis. This fall will also see the publication by Doubleday of the paperback edition of Ruden’s 2010 book on St. Paul, Paul Among the People. Ruden is continuing work on her Guggenheim Fellowship project: the translation of three plays by the classical Greek writer Aeschylus and is completing a translation of the works of Julius Caesar for the Landmark series of classical history for publication in 2012.
On Nov. 6, the Classical Studies Department brought about 20 students and four faculty members to New York City to visit museums and exhibitions related to classics. The group visited the Onassis Cultural Center for an exhibit titled “Heroes, Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece,” followed by a visit to Royal Athena, a commercial antiquities gallery. The trip culminated with a tour, guided by the faculty, of the extensive Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pictured in the center is Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, the Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, director for the Center for Faculty Career Development.
Sarah Ruden is a new visiting scholar in Classics.
Q: Sarah, you received a Guggenheim Fellowship to translate the Greek tragedy trilogy, The Oresteia. Please explain the cultural significance of this particular historical play and why your translation will differ from others?
A: The Oresteia is the first real tragic masterpiece. I think that the greatness of a piece of literature depends mainly on how much it lets us reflect on at once, and the Oresteia has everything: questions of human nature, the nature of the gods, the social order– in this case, the startling Athenian moves toward government by ordinary people. And it’s all conveyed in intense, complex, almost creepily beautiful language.
Debbie Sierpinski, administrative assistant, pictured here with Christi Richardson ’10, has worked at Wesleyan more than 24 years. She manages the budgets for Classical Studies and English Departments and for the Archaeology and Medieval Studies programs.
Q: Debbie, you’re the administrative assistant for the Archaeology Program, Medieval Studies Program and the Classical Studies Department. Anything else?!
A: In October 2010, I was given a promotion and added the responsibility of also working for the English Department and Writing Workshop in the new Downey House operations support system. At times it is a bit challenging, but I am good at managing my time and priorities so the work gets done in a timely fashion. I wear many different hats and wear them well.
Q: How many years have you worked for Wesleyan, and in what departments?
A: I have credit for 24 years at Wesleyan. I have been at Wesleyan longer than that but I did not bridge all of the time. I have worked for the Classical Studies Department and Medieval Studies Program for 18 years. After a few years, the Archaeology Program was added on and then most recently, the English Department
Students interested in Classical Studies edited and created the undergraduate journal, Metis.
The Greek Titan Metis was considered the goddess of wisdom and deep thought. Her name in Greek also means “wisdom combined with cunning,” a highly desirable personality trait to the ancient Athenians.
This year, a group of Wesleyan students with a knowledge and interest in Classical studies, released their own collection of “cunning wisdom” in a publication titled Wesleyan Metis. The Metis editorial board draws on the abilities and creativity of Wesleyan students to showcase their best examples of undergraduate Classics writing.
“Classical studies go far beyond ancient languages and, as evidenced by the essays in the journal, include studies of archaeology and drama or even ancient medicine, sociology, mythology, poetry and more,” says Metis creator Christi Richardson ’10. “There are so many fields of interest in the classics that Metis can illuminate for Wesleyan students. We hope that Metis can get the word out to the Wesleyan community and showcase the wide range of areas of study available to students.”