Monthly Archives: July 2008

Yale Classics next big step for Thomas Biggs ’08

Seems it’s time for another story about Rutgers (founded 1766) and a slightly older university (founded 1701) located in New Haven CT.

Thomas J. Biggs ’08 will be attending Yale University’s PhD program in Classics starting in the fall.

Tom graduated this May from Rutgers College summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with Departmental honors, double majoring in English and Classics.

As a senior, Tom received funding from the Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates to complete his thesis, “Eunuchs and Castration Ritual in the Cult of the Great Mother.” Sarolta A. Takács, Professor of History and Dean of the Honors Program at the RU School of Arts of Sciences, directed the work.

The road to Yale might not have been long for Biggs, but it certainly was winding.

Tom started his undergraduate career at the Rutgers-Camden campus with a major in English. “I began studying Latin after taking a course on Renaissance epic”, Biggs explains, “and was encouraged to further develop my interests in classical literature by several professors who could tell where my interests were going. That year I went to Rome for the first time, and attended my first talk given by a classicist (which was a talk Corey Brennan gave in Camden on Roman games and chariot races). I then decided to transfer to New Brunswick so I could major in Classics as well.”

Hold on, there’s more.

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Yale University Press to publish RU master’s thesis by Brian Beyer (MAT’07)

Well, that was quick.

Brian Beyer received his MAT from Rutgers Classics in winter 2007. And in fall 2008 Yale University Press will publish his master’s thesis, an edition of Book III of Eutropius’s Breviarium of Roman history, aimed at the introductory Latin student.

Beyer’s work aims to solve an age-old problem in Latin pedagogy, namely, to supply the beginning Latin student with his/her first “real” Latin text after a semester and a half or a year’s introductory work on forms and grammar.

To address this issue, Beyer has pressed into service Eutropius, a fourth century AD summarizer of Roman history. In just ten books, Eutropius’ Breviarium historiae Romanae somehow manages to cover the story of Rome in a clear and accessible style from Romulus and Remus to the accession of the emperor Valens in AD 361.

Book III of the Breviarium covers the period of Roman history that students often find most interesting—the Second Punic War. In Beyer’s edition of this book—entitled War with Hannibal: Authentic Latin Prose for the Beginning Student—Eutropius’s narrative is presented with no adaptations or omissions past the (digressive) first sentence.

“Eutropius writes in good, standard classical Latin,”, points out UNC-Charlotte’s Dale Grote in the Preface to Beyer’s work, “so we don’t have to undo what we taught our students. His style is lucid and simple, without being insultingly juvenile. It challenges the emerging Latin students without annihilating their confidence, as Cicero does more often than not. Beyer supplements the readings with generous notes, which deftly point out the way without eliminating the little bit of pain that’s necessary to leave students a sense of accomplishment when they’ve worked things out.”

Brian Beyer’s first degree was in English, from Rutgers College. There he was a witness to history. “While an undergrad I took courses with [RU Classics professors] Palmer Bovie during his last semester at Rutgers, and Lowell Edmunds during his first.” T. Corey Brennan advised the MAT thesis.

Beyer currently teaches Latin in central New Jersey at Montgomery High School (“where we have over 120 incoming Latin students next year!”). Previously he taught Latin at Princeton High School, as part of the New Jersey Department of Education’s World Languages Model Program. He also taught English at Birmingham High School in Los Angeles in the Humanitas program.

While earning his MAT in Latin in the RU Classics department, Brian Beyer played an invaluable role as the Interlibrary Loan borrowing coordinator for Rutgers University Libraries. He lives in Highland Park NJ with his wife and three children.

But wait, there’s more.

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