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Photo by Herbert Goetsch on Unsplash

Today marks the end of the publication of new content on Eidolon. I hope that its closure doesn’t diminish what we accomplished in the past five years, and that we’ve proved that there’s a need for an explicitly progressive, public-facing publication in the field of Classics. We were able to make a mark on the field not in spite of our politics, but because of them.

Eidolon was not, at its inception, a “feminist” publication. It was founded as a “modern way to write about the ancient world,” and a venue for public-facing, broadly accessible essays that had “a strong authorial voice and a unique point of view.” This is not to say that feminism was not always a part of its project — because it was, from the very beginning. I was Eidolon’s founder and Editor-in-Chief, and I was a feminist, and the article I wrote as part of the launch in April 2015 was about the challenges of reading Euripides as a feminist. …

On the Ethics of Classical Reception

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Photo from Oakland Women’s March by Tom Hilton on Wikimedia Commons

In May 2019, actress Alyssa Milano called for an unconventional response to the surge in state-level efforts to restrict abortion rights: withhold sex to exert political leverage.

Although some thought Milano couldn’t possibly be serious, it quickly became clear that she was. She followed up the tweet a few days later with an op-ed on co-authored with activist Waleisah Wilson, arguing, “Lysistratic protest is a longstanding, effective and empowering method to fight for change… When utilized as part of a broader strategy of coordinated action, sex strikes can raise awareness and achieve a wide range of political objectives.”

The unusual term “Lysistratic protest” refers to Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, a comedy that was first performed in Athens in 411 BCE. In the play, the title character convinces the women of Greece to refuse to have sex with their husbands until they end the Peloponnesian War, which had at that point been raging for twenty years. After a great deal of innuendo, teasing, and debate, the men agree. Lysistrata summons a naked female figure named “Reconciliation” (Diallage), and the Athenian and Spartan delegates use Reconciliation’s body as a metaphorical map of Greece to decide which hills and meadows each side will take. …

My Penultimate E(i)ditorial

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Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

How can I spend my energy reading Greek and Latin when a pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans? How can I read and think slowly and carefully when there’s no justice for the murderers of Breonna Taylor and countless others, and when the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg means that our judicial system will be even more an enemy of real justice in the future? How can I write coherent sentences when I think about the growing danger of an autocratic coup by the Trump administration? How do I tell myself that it’s important to learn about and focus on the ancient Mediterranean when ash is falling from an orange sky and I need to keep my children inside for weeks on end? …

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

On March 9 I asked my editorial board how we should celebrate Eidolon’s impending five-year anniversary. We agreed to brainstorm ideas. The same day, Donald Trump retweeted a meme of himself fiddling, just ten days after we’d published a light humor piece about the evolution of the “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” meme as part of our special issue on the topic “Classics and the End of the World.”

All of that seems like it happened in a different lifetime. We had no idea, when we were evaluating pitches and editing drafts for that special, that just a few weeks after it ran we would be facing a world with an undeniably apocalyptic atmosphere. I had no idea when I was thinking about anniversary celebration ideas that we were only a week away from the Santa Clara county’s shelter-in-place order being issued, a belated and necessary measure that has turned my life into something that, six months ago, I wouldn’t have imagined possible. …

And Other Children’s Books for Parents on Coronavirus Lockdown

by Randi and Donna Zuckerberg

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via Unsplash. Note: your house will never be this clean again.

Don’t Hop on Pop: A Guide to Social Distancing
Please stay at least six feet away from pop at all times.

Everybody Poops… But Your Neighbor Bought All the Toilet Paper
What does Prince Charmin need with 200 rolls?!?!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Who Do You Facetime?
Even bears get lonely in self-quarantine.

Where the Wild Things Are: Costco
Not to be confused with the sequel, Where the Wild Things Are (Part II): At my house jumping off the walls because school is closed indefinitely….and HELP! Send wine!

Press Here (With Your Elbow)
Did you really just try to use your finger?? …

E(i)ditorial — January 2020

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Caravaggio, “St. Jerome in his Study” (1605–6 CE)

Part of what drove me to create Eidolon was that I wanted to hear how other people got into Classics, and why studying the discipline is important to them. I addressed this issue in an editorial several years ago:

In that editorial, I wrote “I had my own answers, of course, some of which are more compelling than others. None of those answers were completely satisfactory.” Significantly, I didn’t mention what any of those answers were. The reason for that is that people ask me all the time how I got into Classics, and honestly, my reasons weren’t that impressive.

The truth is that my Classics journey started when I took Latin in high school and did well but absolutely hated it. Most of the work for the class involved writing down the teacher’s translations of In Catilinam I, memorizing them, and reproducing them on exams. When I got to college, I wanted to be an English major, and I needed one more quarter of Latin class to fill all the requirements. That class, of course, was wonderful, and I filled my schedule with Classics courses and decided that I should study Classics forever. …

E(i)ditorial — October 2019

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Roman Fresco Depicting the Theft of the Palladium (c. 1st c. CE)

One of the aims of Eidolon is to explore the relevance of studying classical antiquity in today’s world. Even so, only rarely does something happen in the discipline that our team feels calls for timely coverage — and it’s even rarer for us to decide that an event calls for a timely special issue. We typically plan our content, particularly our special issues, months in advance. Although we have much more flexibility and speed in our publishing schedule than peer-reviewed journals, news hooks aren’t usually a major consideration for us.

On October 14, the Egypt Exploration Society published an announcement claiming that Professor Dirk Obbink took papyri without authorization and sold them to Hobby Lobby’s Museum of the Bible. This announcement was not entirely surprising to many. Rumors about Professor Obbink have been circulating for months, following the careful investigative work of several Biblical Studies scholars. But the formal statement by the EES and subsequent news reporting have brought the scandal out of academic circles and into the public eye. …

E(i)ditorial — July 2019

a book sits open and in profile; the middle pages are folded inwards to create a heart-shape
a book sits open and in profile; the middle pages are folded inwards to create a heart-shape
Photo by Aung Soe Min on Unsplash

Here are three important facts about Eidolon:

  1. all of the articles on are open-access.
  2. we pay our writers and editors.
  3. for two years now, Eidolon has been fully independent, without any institutional support.

If you’re thinking “Wait a second…”, you have probably noticed that in this case, 1 + 2 + 3 = $?!?. Yes, perspicacious reader, you are correct. These numbers do not add up. We were able to keep things going for a while with our Patreon, merchandise sales, and the support of a few generous readers; recently I’ve been keeping the journal afloat with book royalties and speaking fees. …

E(i)ditorial — June 2019

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Photo by Nick Mundackal on Unsplash

I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but: if, at the end of June, you are anxious that your summer is not turning out to be as productive as you hoped, it’ll be ok. Honestly. You’re doing great.

At the beginning of this summer, I found myself thinking of this Avidly article from last September, titled “How Was Your Summer?” and subtitled “Things To Say Other Than ‘I Didn’t Get Enough Writing Done’ When Your Academic Colleague Asks You How Your Summer Was So You Don’t Start the Year With a Goddamned Sense of Failure and Self-Loathing.” It’s a masterpiece. …

E(i)ditorial — May 2019

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Art by Sarah Scullin

In the past few years, I’ve begun to hear from scholars who taught Eidolon articles in their classes to great success. Teachers report that students find Eidolon articles much more accessible than peer-reviewed scholarship, and that they find our content engaging and thought-provoking. We’ve also heard that assigning our articles leads to fascinating class discussions that go in surprising but productive directions.

I suspect that the reason why our articles work so well in undergraduate classrooms is that we follow a simple truism for how to write good public scholarship: assume that your reader is a very smart person who doesn’t know much about your field. You don’t need to dumb your work down at all; you just need to provide enough background so that non-specialists can follow along, and you need to hold their interest. The result, of course, is that we’re often encouraging our writers to write articles specifically geared toward an audience of undergraduates who are bright and thoughtful but lack a broad base of knowledge about ancient Greece and Rome and classical scholarship. …


Donna Zuckerberg

Silicon Valley-based Classics scholar. Editor of Eidolon.

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