The Eta Sigma Phi Honorary Society for Classical Studies selects four students each year to present classical studies research projects at its annual national convention. This year, two of those are from Hillsdale.
Senior Katie Hillery and John James ’17 will present their research to fellow Eta Sigma Phi members, faculty advisers, and graduate school professors at the 90th Eta Sigma Phi Convention at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from Friday to Sunday.
Hillery and James worked with classics professors Laurie Ward and Joseph Garnjobst, who assisted in both the research and editing processes.
Hillery researched an image of Hercules from the Via Latina Catacomb in Rome. In her paper, Hillery explored the complex connection between paganism and Christianity portrayed in the image from a historical perspective.
“This image shows the parallel themes between the legendary figure of Hercules and what Christ represents — being trained in virtue and enduring suffering,” Hillery said. “Those aspects of the myth of Hercules are also fulfilled by the figure of Christ.”
According to Hillery, these common themes suggest a harmony between pagan and Christian culture.
“The convention will be a good opportunity for me to network and meet professionals and scholars,” Hillery said. “It will be nice to get connected within the classics community.”
Hillery plans to double major in history and classics. After graduation, she plans on studying classical archeology, history, and classics and eventually work in curation for a museum.
James researched the Gorgias, a pre-Platonic speaker. Before Plato coined the term “rhetor,” Gorgias’ peers labeled him as a sophist. The term later developed a negative connotation— they are typically viewed as individuals who learned to speak against philosophers and win argument without necessarily arriving at truth. In his research, James found that “rhetor” better defines Gorgias.
“I am excited to present this research,” James said. “I am also interested in discussing the questions I’ll receive and talking about it with people.”
James earned a Bachelor of Arts in classics while studying at Hillsdale.
Garnjobst has taken students to the Eta Sigma Phi National Convention since 1998. In the past 10 years, 18 Hillsdale students have been selected to present their research at the convention. Garnjobst currently serves as trustee for Eta Sigma Phi, and Ward serves as the faculty advisor for Hillsdale’s chapter of Eta Sigma Phi.
“This is a major asset for our students,” Ward said. “Any time you get to revise papers and work on public speaking and presentation skills, you benefit from that.”