The 11th annual “Ghosts in Togas” Halloween lecture will be held on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. Assistant Professor Nicholas Gresens of the University of Rochester will give a lecture titled: “Now I Lamia Down to Sleep: Searching for the Stuff of Ancient Greek Nightmares.” His lecture will be a fascinating exploration of what terrified the inhabitants of ancient Greece.
The ‘Ghosts in Togas’ lecture first began under HWS Classics Professor Lynn Sawlivich. In its first year, Sawlivich had invited Professor Deborah Felton, who is an expert on ancient ghosts and werewolves, and author of “Haunted Greece and Rome,” to give a talk to HWS students and faculty. In the lecture’s second year, Sawlivich asked Leah Himmelhoch (then a professor at Colgate) to give a talk on Haunted Chariot Race Tracks. It wasn’t until the third year, and Felton as the speaker once more, that Sawlivich titled the becoming tradition of a classics Halloween lecture: “Ghosts in Togas.” When Sawlivich left in 2003, Himmelhoch arrived from Colgate and took over.
“Lynn asked me to take over Eta Sigma Phi and try to make it work. Then he also asked me to try to keep his “Ghosts in Togas” series alive; I promised him that I would do my best.” Associate Professor Leah Himmelhoch kept her word as the series is now in its 11th year and still tied to the Eta Sigma Phi initiation ceremony.
Three years ago Professor Elizabeth Colantoni from the University of Rochester was invited to talk on Halloween and ever since, the HWS Classics Department and the University of Rochester ‘s Classics Department have been trying to create a classics community for the region.
“Both departments get along well, and we’ve traded talks,” says Himmelhoch. This year’s speaker, Professor Gresens, started his own Valentine Themed lecture series at the University of Rochester this past February. The connection between the two departments has also served beneficial to the students of both schools. Not long ago, Colantoni invited HWS students to apply for her summer dig site near Rome in which one HWS student was chosen and got to spend the summer in Rome.
This year’s speaker, Professor Gresens, specializes in Classics, Latin and Greek language, Imperial Greek Prose, Ancient Topography, Geography and Historiography and received his Ph.D in the Classics from the University of Indiana in 2009. The lecture is sponsored by the HWS Classics Department, the Eta Pi Chapter of Eta Sigma Phi (The National classics Honors Society).