The Philadelphia Classical Society 78th Annual Latin Week Contests: The Thin White Duke and the Cross-Dimensional Value of Latin

​In the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary of the January 10th death of David Bowie, Robert Drake and others of WXPN radio characterized Bowie’s artistry and music as “cross-dimensional.” 

The events, highlights, and interviews of Philadelphia Loves Bowie Week, January 6th-14th, illustrated the various ways in which Bowie crossed dimensions through his dynamism, creativity, and innovation.

As a longtime fan-from-afar of Bowie, I am prompted to apply the concept of cross-dimensionality to my passion for Classical Latin, its richness, and its access to the phenomenal accomplishments of the ancient Romans.

This epiphany comes as the 78th annual arts and literary contests sponsored by the Philadelphia Classical Society get underway this month.  

It should come as no surprise to readers that nearly every secondary school in the Main Line has a thriving Latin program, with many students engaging in the PCS Latin Week contests.

Traditionally, the study of Latin has been ancillary to building an excellent foundation in English language vocabulary acquisition, grammar understanding, and creative composition.

In addition, the Philadelphia Classical Society arts and literary contests, combined with a rigorous competitive exam, offer cross-dimensionality comparable to Bowie’s lifetime output.

Currently, Latin students from Friends Central to Radnor High School are developing original projects in sketches, paintings, mosaics, costumes, jewelry, military costumes, architectural models, artifacts, and storyboards – all illustrating ancient Latin, and Greek, themes and connections to ancient Mediterranean cultures.

These contests also include many other schools in contiguous counties, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.

Additionally, students are encouraged to compose original prose and poetry in English and Latin, even following ancient meters and illustrating figures of speech.

For students who are eager to demonstrate facility in philology, the competitive exam for advanced students presents various questions based on two sight-unseen original Latin passages in prose and poetry from ancient Classical authors.

In other words, there is something for everyone, a testament to the polyvalency of the Classics.

Take a step back seventy-eight years ago and imagine the remarkable foresight of the PCS officers who planned the first week of contests.  

Surely, cross-dimensional was not a commonly-held term, yet those teachers were making provisions for student projects based on what we now term a diversity of learners.

This collaboration between philology and material culture produces a fabulous, on-the-edge, array of student work which would elicit awe in the Thin White Duke, David Bowie, the man and the artist.

For information about the Philadelphia Classical Society 2017 Latin Week contests, go to philadelphiaclassicalsociety, or email Mary Brown, PCS President, mary.brown@sju.edu. Students may also register independently of their schools for a fee of $5.  The Baldwin School will host the judging day on Saturday, February 25. 

Philadelphia Classical Society Fall Professional Day

  The Philadelphia Classical Society's Fall Professional Day held on Saturday, November 19 at The Baldwin School.  Celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Rudy Masciantonio: (pictured left to right) Dr. Andrew Fenton, The Haverford School and PCS 2nd Vice-President; Kerry Horleman, Haddonfield HS and Program Committee Member of The Classical Association of the Atlantic States; Professor Patrick McGovern, Bio-Molecular Archaeologist at Penn Museum and developer of the ancient recipe for MIDAS TOUCH; Dr. Henry Bender, Saint Joseph's University, Merion Mercy Academy, and CAAS Officer-at-Large.


The Philadelphia Classical Society’s Fall Professional Day held on Saturday, November 19 at The Baldwin School. Celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Rudy Masciantonio: (pictured left to right) Dr. Andrew Fenton, The Haverford School and PCS 2nd Vice-President; Kerry Horleman, Haddonfield HS and Program Committee Member of The Classical Association of the Atlantic States; Professor Patrick McGovern, Bio-Molecular Archaeologist at Penn Museum and developer of the ancient recipe for MIDAS TOUCH; Dr. Henry Bender, Saint Joseph’s University, Merion Mercy Academy, and CAAS Officer-at-Large.

 Midas Touch and Modernity. Enjoying a tasting in honor of Rudy Masciantonio: Karin Suzadail, CAAS President; Dr. Valentina DeNardis, Chair of Classics, Villanova University and PCS Webmaster; Mary Brown, PCS President and CAAS Executive Director; Dr. Patrick McGovern, Penn Museum, developer of ancient brews with Dogfish Head, DE.

Midas Touch and Modernity. Enjoying a tasting in honor of Rudy Masciantonio: Karin Suzadail, CAAS President; Dr. Valentina DeNardis, Chair of Classics, Villanova University and PCS Webmaster; Mary Brown, PCS President and CAAS Executive Director; Dr. Patrick McGovern, Penn Museum, developer of ancient brews with Dogfish Head, DE.

ASCSA Fellowships and Programs

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AMERICAN SCHOOL OF CLASSICAL STUDIES AT ATHENS http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/index.php/admission-membership/grants STUDY IN GREECE 2017-2018 ASCSA PROGRAMS AND FELLOWSHIPS The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, one of America’s most distinguished centers devoted to advanced teaching and research, was founded in 1881 … Continue reading

SALVI 2017 Programs: Registration Now!

Registration for the North American Institute of Living Latin Studies (SALVI) summer Latin immersion programs is now open.  Summer 2017 will feature Rusticatio Tironum (June 30-July 6) led by John Kuhner, Rusticatio Omnibus (July 7-13) led by Nancy Llewellyn, and Rusticatio Veteranorum (July 18-24) led by Justin Bailey.  SALVI is also hosting weekend Latin immersion programs: look for one in your area!  Please visit our event page for more information.

Euripides Helen at Montclair State University

Montclair State University’s Classics and General Humanities Department will  sponsor a series of four outdoors performances of Euripides’ HELEN this  coming spring, April 20, 21, 25, and 27, 2017, in the Greek-style Amphitheater on MSU’s campus,  adjacent to Kasser Theater. Performances are free and open to the  public, and will take place at 2pm on each of the performance days. For more information, see: www.msuhelen.org. For other theater productions, see our general website: www.msugreekplays.org, and/or contact Jeri (Dr. Jerise Fogel) at fogelj@montclair.edu