Friday dinner 6:30 at Cricket’s

Our location for the optional, pay-your-own-way dinner will be Cricket’s Grill & Draft House.

Starts at 6:30pm, but I am sure they will serve you whenever you show up!

Address is 221 Mary Avenue (although the front of the restaurant actually faces Franklin Avenue), and Google map is here.

The best way to get there from campus is:

(1) University Parks heading north, cross under I-35

(2) take a left onto Franklin and proceed one (short) block farther, just past 2nd Street

(3) find Cricket’s in shopping strip to left, near Diamondback’s and Ninfa’s, with large parking lot out front.

Menu includes sandwiches, entrees, vegetarian options, etc., and there are many, many taps.

Classics in the news: “Come and take it!”

How often does one come across an actual ancient Greek phrase that is in common use by every-day Americans? If that phrase is μολὼν λαβέ, the answer is “quite often.”

Try this as an experiment: Google the phrase “molon labe.” You will find that this phrase makes its appearance in fancy web clipart, tattoos, inscriptions on the lower receivers of AR-15s, and even in Youtube videos.  It does not take long to realize the connections between this phrase and what is commonly termed “gun culture“: the phrase was long ago translated into English as “come and take it,” which itself has enjoyed wide popularity in this (and other) contexts.

Yes, the phrase is usually mispronounced as “moe-lonn lay-b” (arguments concerning its pronunciation are sufficiently numerous to constitute a recognized sub-genre on certain online discussion boards); nevertheless, I believe we must treat the “molon labe” phenomenon as worthy of our notice as classicists.  My are reasons are:

(1) Comprehension of the Greek phrase in question depends upon at least a passing knowledge of ancient Greek history.  Yes, the users’ source for that history is Zack Snyder’s (partially animated, wholly silly) movie 300; nevertheless, I am willing to bet that most fans of the phrase know its attribution to Leonidas of Sparta.

(2) Habitual users of the phrase have, it would seem, created a conscious link between their own experience and that of the ancient Greeks.

(3) The context in which the habitual users have made this link happens to be an area of contemporary American culture that is currently under fierce debate.

In conclusion: with this phrase, a large chunk of America has demonstrated an interest in–perhaps even an aspiration to–the intellectual heritage of Greco-Roman antiquity.  We classicists like to think of ourselves as the keepers of that heritage.  It would appear that we have much to say to each other.

Keynote Speaker!!!


I am pleased to report that our keynote speaker for this year’s conference will be Dr. Loren J. “Jay” Samons II, Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University.  Dr. Samons’ main research interests have revolved around the history and literature of 6th-5th century Athens, especially relating to democracy and empire (see his faculty website here).  His book, What’s Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship (University of California Press, 2004), is especially interesting to me as an attempt to relate his interests in ancient history to contemporary American culture; the book has been widely acknowledged as both thought-provoking and important by reviewers, not all of whom agree with his conclusions (see the UC Press website for the book here).  Dr. Samons’ most recently published book is Pericles and the Conquest of History: A Political Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2016).  This should be a very interesting conference!


Classics in the News: “The Thucydides Trap”

If one types “Thucydides” into Google these days, odds are the second item on the automatically generated list of search term suggestions is “Thucydides trap.”

Until very recently, I had been unaware of this term, which (according to my preliminary research) was coined by Harvard foreign policy expert Graham T. Allison about five years ago, and is inspired by this short passage:

“The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable.” Thuc. 1.23 (trans. R. Craweley)

Prof. Allison applied this passage to what he perceived as a basic problem in contemporary international relations, i.e., how will the United States (Sparta) react to the growing strength and regional ambitions of China (Athens).  The term “Thucydides trap” has caught on amongst commentators, to the point that it is now apparently being used as a synonym for the whole “China question.”  (Follow this link for a recent addition to the literature:

What interests me as a Classicist is not only the appearance of an ancient Greek historian’s name in contemporary discussions; it is the fact that the reference presumes something much more than a merely superficial engagement with a referenced ancient Greek text.  This fact is heartening, even if the geopolitical context is potentially worrying.

Here is my question to you, my fellow members of TCA: Can we find and document other instances where similarly serious Classical references are popping up in contemporary culture?  I do not mean the common and trivial references one normally sees, e.g., the mere use of mythological names for literary characters; I mean references that presume some kind of actual knowledge of Classical antiquity, and that are being applied to non-trivial discussions in contemporary media?

If we can locate more of these serious Classical references in current discourse, we may have a better idea where the “market” for our wares lies.

2016 TCA Conference in Waco!

This year, the Annual Conference of the Texas Classical Association will be held in Waco, on the campus of Baylor University.  Dates will be:

Friday 28 October – Following an afternoon talk by our keynote speaker (to be named) we will adjourn to a reception.  Optional pay-your-way dinner to follow at a local restaurant.

Saturday 29 October – Full day’s conference with multiple paper sessions, breakfast, snacks, and combination lunch-and-business-meeting.

Please LET US KNOW YOU ARE COMING by clicking on “Registration Info” above and filling out our on-line form!!!

If you are interested in giving a paper at this year’s conference, please click on “Submit an abstract”!!!

Further details to follow!