A Satyricon DiscoveryGAMBIER, Ohio (March 24, 2009) Latin and Greek major Jessica Wise '09 will present a research paper at a national collegiate convention on an aspect of literature and architecture under the Roman emperor Nero.
Jessica, of Metairie, Louisiana, is one of three students chosen to present papers at the 31st annual convention of Eta Sigma Phi, the honorary society for students of Latin and Greek, on March 27-29 in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the first student from Kenyon to present a paper at the convention.
"It's not just the language," she said. "It's the whole civilization that I'm studying. And language is the best way to understand civilizations.
"What I love about Latin, particularly in comparison to English, is that it has these words and ways for expressing things that you cannot capture in a modern language."
Her research included translating a portion of the novel Satyricon by Petronius. The novel concerns the life of Trimalchio, a Roman freedman, who builds a large, fanciful tomb to exalt his legacy. Jessica learned that the fictional tomb described by Petronius was not as exaggerated as it may seem when compared to the tombs of real Roman freedmen.
She submitted her paper to Eta Sigma Phi because she so much enjoyed writing it. "I'm really interested in Latin literature and Roman archaeology. This is actually a paper I loved writing. I was proud of it, and I wanted to put it out there."
"The paper was superb," said Adam Serfass, associate professor of classics. Jessica wrote the paper for an advanced Latin seminar on literature taught by Serfass and Kenyon President S. Georgia Nugent. Earning the opportunity to present the paper at the convention is a "considerable achievement," Serfass said. Eta Sigma Phi has more than 1,000 members.
"I'm delighted that she is presenting her research in such a setting," Serfass said.
Jessica is considering graduate school and a career as a teacher of Latin.